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First Trees Planted At 9/11 Memorial Site

NEW YORK (CBS 2/1010 WINS) -- After years, life returned to Ground Zero in a very visible day Saturday.

Amid the concrete, steel and stone came a splash of crisp green as the first trees were planted at the 9/11 Memorial, reports CBS 2's Kathryn Brown.

"My God, there's nothing but joy right now, and that's not easy on this site," said Ron Vega, Director of Design of the 9/11 Memorial. "I mean this is a site that is full of sorrow and yet here we are in the midst of life."

Site workers painstakingly planted the first 16 trees in the 9/11 Memorial Garden and said, like everything there, the familiar work took on a special reverence.


"These are the most intensively-cared for trees, I would say, in the history of the planet," said Tom Cox of Environmental Design.

"It's an emotional project, so to see these trees starting to soar to the sky on a day that's not dissimilar to the way September 11th was, it's just a beautiful reminder that this is going to be a place a sacred place where people are going to really come and come together," said Joe Daniels, 9/11 Memorial President.

When completed, there will be 400 White Oaks at the site. They stood 30-feet but will reach heights of up to 80-feet when fully grown.

Their branches stretch to form a canopy over a park and they will surround two reflecting pools in the footprints of the Twin Towers.

The 9/11 Memorial Committee called the trees a tangible step toward progress.

"This memorial will open on time for next year's tenth anniversary," said Bill Baroni, Deputy Executive Dir. of the Port Authority. It is a cause that every one of these hard hats, every one of our construction workers, everyone at Port Authority, everyone at the Foundation is committed to."

The trees were all brought in from New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. to symbolize the areas directly impacted on 9/11.

"Trees are about life. Trees are about renewal. You know when you plant a tree in someone's name, it's a moment of reflection and respect and here we are," Vega said.

The soil that holds the souls of so many now bears hope and promise for the future.

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