The new Freedom Tower
The new Freedom Tower

It's hard to believe it's been 18 years since September 11th, 2001.  Chances are you can easily recall where you were and what was going on in your life when this tragedy occurred, but this year I thought I'd remember 9/11 a little differently.

I was in New York City two weeks ago for a little vacation.  To be truthful, the whole purpose of my trip was to see the Cubs play the Mets at Citi Field.

Being in a town like New York City, it's hard to not fall into tourist mode almost immediately.

Big buildings, famous landmarks and tons of chaos... it's fantastic.

I've been to NYC two other times.  The first was in 1997, before the 9/11 attacks.  The second was in 2008, well after the attacks.  And now, in 2019 I'm seeing the city one more time.

I stayed at Canal and Broadway, which is located in Chinatown in Manhattan.  Right outside my hotel was a subway station, so I was just a few stops from wherever I wanted to go.

We arrived on a Wednesday evening and attended a Staten Island Yankees game.  Thursday morning we woke up early and made our way down to the World Trade Center.  Standing in the plaza is so surreal.  It's a place you've seen on television a gazillion times and to see the tall buildings around you is truly breathtaking.

1 World Trade Center
1 World Trade Center

The Freedom Tower has numerous names.  One World Trade Center, One WTC and Freedom Tower are all references to the building that was opened on November 3rd of 2014.

At 1,776 feet, it's one of the tallest buildings in America.

We took the elevator ride to the 100th floor to see the observation deck.  The creators did an incredible job.  On a dark wall you see a quick video about the building.  As it ends the screen rises and the walls drop to suddenly give you your first glimpse of the city from the tower.  It's amazing.

I asked the lady working there "Do you have the best job on earth, or what?"

She quickly replied sarcastically in New York fashion "If you don't mind watching the same two-minute video all day, then yeah, this is the best job on earth."

The view is fantastic.  It's pricey, but if you're in New York City it's definitely a must-see!

Manhattan from the Freedom Tower

In the plaza below the building you'll find the memorial to the victims of the September 11th attacks, referred to as Reflecting Absence.  It is a stirring reminder of the events of that horrible day.

Reflecting Absence

Each fountain stands in the location of its fallen tower and is surrounded by the thousands of names of those who lost their lives that day.

The names of those who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001

Each day, someone from the 9/11 museum visits the name of anyone that would have celebrated a birthday and stick a beautiful white rose in their name.

The following morning we got to the 9/11 museum early and spent about 5 hours looking at the amazing exhibits.  We relived the day in the location where it all happened.  People would stop, sit down and start sobbing.  I spent the afternoon processing what I saw.

While it's a sad place, it's incredible to see the resiliency of a city and how far they've come in such a short time.

I was always told how rude and cold the people of New York City would be.  I remember my mother telling me "don't talk to anyone," upon my first journey to the city.

I found just the opposite.  A diverse city full of kindness, appreciating each other and their backgrounds, religions and cultures.

So today we take a moment and remember the nearly 3,000 people killed and 6,000 injured during the events of September 11th, 2001.

We also get to see how far we've come in both healing and rebuilding.

Stay strong, America.

~Chris Farber

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