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Trees Tagged For Inclusion in World Trade Ceter Memorial

NEW YORK.-Governor George E. Pataki today joined USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment David Tenny, World Trade Center Memorial Architect Michael Arad and Landscape Architect Peter Walker, Associate Architect Max Bond, the LMDC and the WTC Memorial Foundation to tag the first trees for the World Trade Center Memorial. The trees will be paid for with a $150,000 grant.

“The New York trees tagged today are a living symbol of our State’s resolve and renewal in the wake of enormous tragedy and will become living components of the World Trade Center Memorial,” said Governor Pataki. “The Memorial will be a lasting tribute to those we lost on September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993, that will not only honor the friends, neighbors and love ones we lost, but demonstrate the strength and resilience of our City and our Nation as we continue to heal, remember and rebuild.”

The Sweet Gum trees tagged in Eastport, New York will be a part of the Memorial Grove of trees on the over six-acre plaza of the World Trade Center Memorial. Additional Oak and Sweet Gum trees will come from locations in Pennsylvania, Washington DC and other areas of the east coast. They will continue to grow and be shaped, maintained and monitored. All of the trees for the plaza will be then moved to a central growing area with a similar climate to New York City. In the Fall 2008 and the Spring of 2009, the trees will then be moved to the World Trade Center and installed onto the plaza. By the opening of the Memorial in 2009, the trees are expected to be 30-35 feet tall.

David Tenny, the United State Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment said, “I am proud to be a part of this important event, working with Governor Pataki to select and tag trees to be used for the World Trade Center Memorial site. Nearly four years ago roughly 500 USDA Forest Service firefighters answered the call of duty, assisting in emergency rescue and recovery operations on scene at Ground Zero. This tree tagging event demonstrates our department and agency’s continuing commitment to help our nation recover and heal following the attacks of September 11th. This project uses trees to create lasting, living memorials to the victims of terrorism and to help ease the suffering of families, communities and the nation.”

The USDA Living Memorials Project has issued a $150,000 grant towards the purchase of trees for the Memorial. The Living Memorials Project invokes the resonating power of trees to bring people together and create lasting, living memorials to the victims of terrorism, their families, communities, and the nation. Cost-share grants support the design and development of community projects in the New York City metropolitan area, SW Pennsylvania, and the Washington DC metropolitan area. The USDA Forest Service was asked by the United States Congress to create the project out of the overwhelming desire to honor and memorialize the tragic losses that occurred on September 11, 2001.

LMDC and WTC Memorial Foundation Chairman John Whitehead said, “As the anniversary of September 11th approaches, it is important not only to reflect and remember, but also to move forward with our plans to permanently honor those we’ve lost. Tagging the trees, so that they can be cultivated and prepared for the site, is an important step in realizing the vision that we all share.”

LMDC President Stefan Pryor said, “Identifying trees is another important and tangible step towards the creation of the Memorial. These trees represent our City’s rebirth in the wake of tragedy and they provide a contemplative grove for meditation and reflection.”

World Trade Center Memorial Foundation President and CEO Gretchen Dykstra said, “The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation is proud to be the care taker of these growing trees. We commit ourselves to ensuring that the Memorial Grove remains as beautiful forever as it will be when the Memorial is opened to the public in 2009. Peter Walker has created an innovative landscaping design to help us safeguard the health of the trees in the years to come. We are grateful to Governor Pataki, the USDA Living Memorials Project, and the LMDC for helping to build this Memorial which will reflect the kindness and strength of our nation in response to September 11th.”

Michael Arad, Partner at Handel Architects, said, “As we tag these trees today, we are rebuilding New York, and bringing the realization of the Memorial design closer to completion. The trees we pick today will offer shelter to the visitors to the memorial, they will provide shade for workers of the rebuilt World Trade Center as they enjoy a lunch break, and they will enliven the commutes of neighborhood residents as they make their way past the site every day. These trees will embellish the vast open space of the Memorial Plaza and mark it as different and distinct from all that is around it - this Memorial Plaza will belong first and foremost to the Memorial itself, but it will be open and welcoming to all who come to this site.”

Peter Walker of Peter Walker and Partners said, “The grove will be a living and human component to the Memorial and will give life to the role of the Memorial within Lower Manhattan. Oaks and Sweet gums have been chosen for their health and durability, but more importantly, selected as graceful and hopeful symbols of life and longevity.”

Max Bond of Davis Brody Bond LLP said, “The selection of trees is another important step in the development of the World Trade Center Memorial. The creation of a verdant park surrounding the voids of the Twin Towers will create a place for rest and contemplation, while symbolizing spiritual renewal.”

The World Trade Center Memorial, ‘Reflecting Absence’, will honor the 2,979 heroes lost in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993. The Memorial will ensure that future generations will know where the towers once stood and will never forget each individual life taken during those tragic days. The reverent design was selected from 5,201 entrants from 63 nations and 49 states. This participation from around the world is itself a monument to our shared loss.

The over six-acre landscaped plaza will feature a large ceremonial one-and-a-half acre clearing that will serve as a gathering place for events of remembrance. Two voids puncture the horizontal expanse of the Memorial Plaza and make present the enormous absence felt by us all on September 11th. The size of the voids physically conveys the magnitude of the twin towers that were lost. The voids contain waterfalls that drop nearly thirty feet into reflecting pools below. Visitors can either circle around a pool, taking its measure, or descend underground through an adjacent ramp.

On the second memorial level, the names of all of those lost on September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993 can be viewed while water cascades behind them. Between the two pools, Memorial Hall offers a space for visitors to sit and reflect, and serves as an assembly place that orients visitors through the use of a directory to help loved ones find the names of those lost those fateful days. On the lowest level, history is preserved. The very foundations of the World Trade Center, the original box beam column remnants can be accessed and contemplation room provides a space for the remains of those lost and never identified with an adjacent area offering a sacred space for victims' families. The ascent back to the plaza and the return to daily life complete the Memorial experience and return the visitor to the living Memorial Grove of elegant trees.

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