By Alyssa Sperrazza, News Editor
In rememberance of the 168 killed April 19, 1995, along with honoring the survivors of the Murrah bombing, OBU participated in a special event that will continue the memory of those lost in the terrorist attack.
Planted yesterday in an official ceremony by OBU President David Whitlock and a special committee, a seedling from the Survivor Tree now stands on the south lawn of Raley Chapel.
Though little in size, the seedling is now as a memorial site and a reminder of the attack in OKC 22 years ago.
“Every year they take cuttings from the tree and grow seedlings and then donate them to organizations [that apply for one],” head of facilities management, George Haines said.
“[OBU] did this year and explained to them what our purpose was, why we wanted one of the seedlings. We thought that would be a fitting way to do our first arbor day here at OBU.”
Arbor Day is a holiday where people are encouraged to plant and take care of trees.
Multiple countries celebrate this holiday, recognzing the need to take care of the trees that we have and encourage new growth.
With that in mind, the seedling of the Survivor Tree will not be just another ordinary tree.
“The tree itself symbolizes so much itself,” head gardener Lisa Hair said. “The American Elm is a huge, beautiful tree. It’s going to be here for years and years to come.”
As a certified horticulturist, the surviving of the tree in the bombing meant a great deal to Hair.
“For a very brief time when the bombing took place, we weren’t sure whether our niece and her son were in the building,” Hair said.
“All we knew is she worked a government job and she took her son, who had cerebral palsy, with her to work sometimes. So for about three hours till we heard from her, we were very hooked into the bombing. And when I heard the tree had survived, being a gardener, I was just ecstatic. Then when I heard they were doing seedlings from that tree, and they weren’t just giving them to the survivor’s families like the first year, I wanted one for our campus.”
As a part of the 20/20 plan, OBU is working on certification for the trees, taking pride in the various plant life on campus.
“We’re heading in this direction because one of the goals, as a part of the OBU 20/20 plan, one of the visions is to have our arboretum—which is our collection of trees—accredited,” Haines said.
“And also to have our campus be recognized as a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. So part of the way we get to that point is participate in Arbor Day and then do some educational sessions, get some students evolvement, have a learning project, which we’re going to be working on.”
Celebrating the very first Arbor Day, OBU aims for it to be an annual holiday.
“This vision was done prior to be coming to the campus, but what I can see is that OBU takes great pride in the appearance of the campus and recently was recognized as one of the most beautiful campuses for Christian schools,” Haines said.
“We have 131 different species of trees already and by taking that and just doing some documentations and submitting, an organization called ArbNet will accredit our school and we’ll be one of a handful of schools in the state that will have an accredited arboretum.”
131 species of trees is already quite the collection, and the adding of the Survivor Tree seedling enhances the collection.
“The Survivor Elm is a very old fashion looking tree,” Hair said.
“It’s very tall, very broad, very spreading; lots of overhanging branches to have picnics under and to eventually put hammocks under. And just the spirit of hope that that tree represents, the hope that we have in Christ, to me, tie hand-in-hand perfectly.”