Our guide stopped in front of a modest tree, called a Chanticleer Callery pear.
This type of pear tree, our guide continued, has a history. In October 2001, 9/11 rescue workers at Ground Zero found a Chanticleer Callery pear tree under the ruins. Its trunk blackened, its roots and limbs snapped, the tree was alive, just barely. It was nursed back to health and later replanted in 2010 in the National September 11 Memorial, where it became known as the Survivor Tree. That tree, the guide concluded, and the one planted here in Canberra to commemorate that awful day are both symbols of hope.
My friend and I hadn’t spoken during the tour; no one knew we were Americans. And yet the guide had told the story thoughtfully, and the Australians had listened with respect and sympathy. What could have been a moment of alienation and separation, of feeling so far from home, was instead intensely moving because of the kindness and empathy of the people around us. Thank you, Australia.