The case against using plants as monuments

Rochelle Gurstein in The New Republic:

Twoers2 As we headed toward the Cherry Esplanade at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden so that we could take in one of the great joys of spring in New York—cherry trees in full, glorious bloom—we entered a path between a double row of youngish oak trees that were now beginning to attain the height and fullness that will eventually give them the stately architectural elegance of an allée. I was asking my husband if he remembered how forlorn they had looked as saplings when we noticed a bronze plaque at the foot of a tree just filling in with deep green leaves. It read: “In Memory of the Heroes of Engine Company 280 and Ladder Company 132 Who Made the Supreme Sacrifice On September 11, 2001 In Defense of Their Country,” followed by the names of seven men who were killed. And with that, our delight in the beauty of what was a perfect spring day was interrupted by the presence of September 11.

We were taken off guard, but then we remembered that a number of years ago these oaks had been planted to replace the magnificent allée of old, soaring Norway maples that had been planted by the first generation of Brooklyn Botanic gardeners in 1918 to honor the Armistice and that had sadly come to the end of their natural life spans over 80 years later.

More here.