I always had a connection to "the woods." My Mom, Dad and Brother all shared my love for the great outdoors. My Dad hauled pulpwood for a living. He was a very hard-working man. Because of my Dad, I learned the value of a tree at a very young age. In elementary school, I wrote an essay about "The Life of a Piece of Paper." I saved that essay, and it is around here somewhere. In my story, I shared the journey from the harvesting of the tree . . . all the way to the paper mill in Ashdown, AR. I guess you could say, I appreciated the sacrifice of a tree.
Trees are symbolic in so many ways. After learning about the childhood of young Walt Disney, I immediately connected with his Dreaming Tree located on his family's farm in Marceline, MO. I do believe I continue on a journey in my life, where trees have held very significant meaning to me. And yet again, I find myself reflecting on another tree of great symbolism for the state of Oklahoma, The Survivor Tree. This beautiful American Elem, has a remarkable story to share. It was located near ground zero of the terrorist attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in April of 1995. Before the bombing, the tree had no significance whatsoever, other than the small amount of shade it provided in a sea of concrete jungle. After this horrific event in our Country's history, The Survivor Tree has grown to a beautiful ninety year old tree, and offers a symbol of hope, strength, and resiliency for not only Oklahomans, but for the world. The inscription around the tree reads, “The spirit of this city and this nation will not be defeated; our deeply rooted faith sustains us.”
On Friday of this week, I am taking my high school broadcast/print journalism students on a three hour trip from Howe to Oklahoma City to tour The Oklahoman during the "kickoff of the presses." What amazing things we will have the opportunity to learn about modern day journalism. While in town, we will also be visiting the Oklahoma City National Memorial and The Survivor Tree. I have a hunch, my students and I will learn so much more standing in front of this beautiful tree. Sometimes it's the side roads and winding trails in life, that lead you down the most meaningful journeys. And sometimes the story involves a tree.
Take time to watch the video below. It will be well worth your time. I hope you too will one day have a chance to visit The Survivor Tree and reflect on what is represented by the #okstandard. (I will be standing in line in April of 2016 to receive a seedling to plant our own place of remembrance for students and community members at Howe Public Schools, I hope you will consider joining me.)