Eleven years ago, America was the victim of the most brutal terrorist attack in history. Nearly 3,000 men, women, and children, were taken from us by “faceless cowards”, who crashed jumbo jets into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and western Pennsylvania (which did not meet its intended target thanks to the heroism of the passengers on board the hijacked United 93.) We mourned as a nation then, and we still do today, as the peaceful world many of us knew gave way to a world of war, fear, and resolve. As for the area where those 110-story buildings once stood, there now stands what might be the most fitting tribute to the victims: One World Trade Center.
For the past eleven years, there had been controversy regarding what should be done at that spot in Lower Manhattan. Should it be a memorial? Should new office buildings go in? Should it remain empty? The architects of that area decided to do both: build a 1,776-foot skyscraper on one side, and two waterfalls and a museum on the other. The skyscraper, now called One World Trade Center, or the “Freedom Tower,” is a fitting tribute because it represents the spirit of New York City, a place where the world does its business, and free people work to achieve a better life for themselves in a free society.
It is a place that once dominated the Manhattan skyline for three decades, and after eleven years, that skyline has been reclaimed; higher than ever before. It is in this new office building that the spirit of the victims will live on, in the boardrooms, in the cubicles, on the many floors, in the many break rooms, and around the many water-coolers. After all, that is what they were doing eleven years ago: coming in to work to earn money to better their own lives, and the lives of their families. It echoes what then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani said on the first post-9/11 Saturday Night Live, “New York is open for business.” It also demonstrates that when America is knocked down, we get back up stronger than we were before. While we still grieve for the victims and their families of that tragic and fateful day, who will forever be remembered with two waterfalls that mark where the original buildings once stood, and their names engraved along the sides, we show our resolve, and our unmistakably American knack for looking ahead towards a brighter future.
Lower Manhattan is now back to being the economic engine it once was, and New York City, though scarred, continues to hum with the activity of millions of people, from all genders, races, colors, and creeds, interacting with one another, as another business day begins in the city that never sleeps.
The terrorists tried to take that away from us. They failed.