A special delivery arrived last Thursday in Boise: A sapling from a horse chestnut tree that stood in the courtyard of the Amsterdam house where the Frank family hid during the Nazi occupation.
Anne's diary includes mentions of the tree. Just three months before Nazis captured her family, she wrote, "Our chestnut tree is in full bloom. It is covered with leaves and is even more beautiful than last year."
The parent tree lived for about 150 years. It stood until 2010. Toward the end of its life, arborists preserved saplings to be replanted around the world. The Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial was one of 11 sites in the U.S. chosen through a competitive process to receive a sapling, putting it in good company. The White House, the World Trade Center site and one of the first Arkansas schools to be integrated in the 1950s are among the other recipients.
Boise's sapling was in quarantine on the East Coast for three years, said Dan Prinzing, executive director of the Idaho Human Rights Education Center. It's in the care of city foresters now. They'll plant it at the memorial once its trunk has grown to about 2.5 inches in diameter, said city forester Brian Jorgenson. That will probably take a couple of years.
The chestnut sapling is one of several new projects in the works at the memorial, said Prinzing. Others include an outdoor classroom, a 12-foot bronze interpretation of the chestnut tree, and a legacy garden in honor of Boise resident and Holocaust survivor Rose Beal.
The Idaho Human Rights Education Center is borrowing an idea from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., where visitors make rubbings from names etched into the memorial's walls. In May, the center will install a stone etched with a chestnut leaf and words from Anne Frank's diary. Visitors will be able to create their own mementos.
The growing memorial continues to hold a special place in Boiseans' hearts. Statesman reader Jo-Ann Kachigian nominated it as a Boise icon.
"We see violations of human rights every day, both here and abroad," Kachigian wrote. The memorial's elements "offer hope as well as the opportunity to ponder what each of us can do to end such abuses. My mother was an Armenian Genocide survivor. Her harrowing history inspired me to become a social justice activist. This beautiful place renews me."
The memorial grew out of a 1995 Anne Frank exhibit that toured Idaho, seen by 5 percent of the state's population. Its popularity inspired four women Prinzing calls the "founding mothers" - the Rev. Nancy Taylor, Leslie Drake, Marilyn Shuler and Lisa Uhlmann - to start the campaign for a permanent memorial and education center.
777 S. 8th St., Boise.
Anna Webb: 377-6431