Twelve young trees were planted Monday in Calvary Cemetery in Woodside to honor the victims of the World Trade Center attacks who are buried there.
Just six feet high, the trees are genetic clones of the largest varieties of red and green ash trees, called Champion trees. Some Champions alive today are about 4,000 years old.
“These trees will grow as we all will continue to grow. They will symbolize that life must move on,” said Congressman Joseph Crowley, who lost a cousin in the September 11th attack.
If the remains of John Moran, a battalion chief in the New York Fire Department, are found, they would also be buried at Calvary Cemetery, Crowley said.
As a boy, the congressman and his brother had played hide-and-seek at the Woodside cemetery, but “only in the daytime, never at night.”
A representative from Governor George Pataki’s office, Kevin Dempsey, also attended the planting ceremony. “We all shared in the horrific day, and it is an honor that you allow us to share in that grief.”
The Monday plantings will also help to replenish the tree groves at the cemetery which were lost due to infestation by the Asian long-horned beetle.
“So this is a dual effort,” said Andrew Nagle, spokesperson for Calvary Cemetery. “The trees honor the victims of September 11th and replace some of the trees that were taken from us.”
The beetle was first found at the cemetery five years ago. Since then, about 150 maple trees have been destroyed to prevent further infestation.
The Department of Agriculture will inspect the cemetery again later this month to determine if more trees need to be removed.
In the meantime, the cemetery will plant another 100 trees later this week. The species they are receiving—oaks, spruces, sweet gums and lindens—are generally unfriendly hosts to the Asian beetle.
The 12 ash trees were donated to Calvary Cemetery by the National Tree Trust, a federal program that plants trees around the country, and the Champion Tree Project, an organization of tree farmers based in Michigan.
Last year, Calvary Cemetery invited a representative from the National Tree Trust to the cemetery to determine if the location would be appropriate for memorial tree plantings.
“When (the representative) saw the hill overlooking the New York City skyline where the trees would be planted, he said ‘this is perfect,’” Nagle said. Soon after, the National Tree Trust secured the trees from the Champion Tree Project for the cemetery.
The 12 donated ash trees honor Trade Center victims Thomas Ashton, Timothy Coughlin, Claudia Alicia Foster, Michael Lynch and seven firefighters: Michael Brennan, John Crisci, Michael Elferis, John Florio, Robert McMahon, Michael Mullan and Lawrence Virgilio. More than 1,750,000 individuals are buried or entombed at Calvary Cemetery.