Weatherford Democrat

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September 12, 2012

Remembering 9/11

WEATHERFORD — Like so many others across the country, Steven Chamblee remembers exactly where he was when the Sept. 11 occurred.

“I was in my truck driving across New Mexico, when I got a call from my friend saying ‘just in case something happens to us, I want you to know that I love you,” he said.

Chamblee, who had been listening to his tape player on the journey, was baffled, until the friend told him about the towers being hit.

“I pulled into a truck stop, right about the time the second plane hit,” he said.

At the time, Chamblee was working at Fort Worth Botanic Garden, and the events generated an idea for the horticulturist.

That year, he cut 4,500 strips of yellow ribbon, one for each of the assumed victims, and tied the ribbons to fencing along University Drive.

Since 2002, his memorial tradition has grown to the planting of a tree each year. Chamblee has six of those trees planted in Weatherford’s Chandor Gardens.

“It just seemed like the right thing to do,” he said.

Chamblee begins the process by digging a hole, then inserting the tree. Once the ground around it is covered, himself and whoever joins him participates in the “consecration.”

“Some might call it a blessing, or an announcement, but we gather around the tree and the main objective is to be grateful for being together,” Chamblee said.

Last year, he planted a Screwbean Mesquite tree, one of the most drought-tolerant trees, and this year’s was a Baldcypress, one of the more wet-loving plants in North America, he said.

“People always remember where they were when the World Trade Centers were attacked, but I remember where I was Sept. 11, 2001, Sept. 11, 2002, Sept. 11, 2003,” he said. “It’s just a nice tradition and it helps mark the anniversary for me on a personal level.”

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