Wednesday, February 16, 2022
On February 23, 1944, a 15-year-old girl gazed from an attic window at the topmost branches of a tree. In her diary, she wrote, “I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind. As long as this exists…and I may live to see it, this sunshine, these cloudless skies, while this lasts, I cannot be unhappy.” The girl was Anne Frank. She would die in a concentration camp less than a year after penning that entry. Decades later, the tree succumbed to old age; before it was removed, however, germinated chestnuts were collected, saplings sprouted, and Anne’s trees now grow all over Europe. Only a dozen so-called Anne Frank trees are rooted on U.S. soil, including at the Boston Commons and a 9/11 memorial park in New York City. The thirteenth will be planted on the University of Iowa Pentacrest on April 29, 2022. The tree was awarded to our campus and community in recognition of our literary heritage, for the UI’s excellence in tree stewardship, and in observation of the Pentacrest’s long history as a space of peaceful youth activism.