The Saturday following my return home to New York City, after graduating from military school in Virginia, I literally found myself at the top of the world. It was my mom’s idea to take me up there. Tickets to the observation deck at the World Trade Center were the perfect high school graduation gift to her only child.
Afterward, we had lunch, crab cakes, and salad, at the newly reinvented Pier 17. It was just the two of us. We hadn't enjoyed a day like that since I was five. It was an enjoyable few hours. I cherish the memory more with each day that passes.
I was still a kid then, only 18. The world was my oyster. I had the feeling that nothing could ever go wrong. That was a naive thought, now that I am able to reflect on it.
The year was 1982; Ed Koch was our mayor, and the Big Apple was making a come back. Just when everything was looking up my world came crashing down.
Little did I know then that both my parents would soon be gone within five years. First I lost my mother to cancer in 1984, and my dad suffered a fatal heart attack in 1987. I never imagined that my fate could be so cruel.
I was able to talk to my mother before she passed, and I spent lots of time with my dad before his sudden death. The one thing I know they expected of me was that I should be an upright person and do the right thing - no matter what. To be hard working and honest as they both were. That’s how I've tried to live my life.
I worked my way through college, got a great job, married a fantastic lady, and had two beautiful kids. Life indeed goes on, even when it seems impossible to move forward. Our responsibility is to get back up and keep on moving. This river called life will push you forward – ready or not. So, always be ready.
On the morning of September the 11th 2001, terrorist hijacked four airliners. They crashed two of them into the towers of the World Trade Center. The others met their tragic destinies beyond New York.
I was just across the Hudson River, in New Jersey when it happened. I watched the two iconic towers burn and then collapse right in front of my eyes. 2,800 people died that day. It was a surreal moment. More like a nightmare.
As those events unfolded on 9/11, I was transported back in time to that Saturday morning with mom. The sky was clear and just as blue on both occasions. Two moments indelibly imprinted in my memory.
On that day New York, America, and the civilized world were thrown into shock and profound grief. I felt as though I’d been there once before, and I knew we would get through it. For the most part, we have!
Thus, I now feel that the appropriate time has arrived to take a trip back up to the top of the world. I will do it to honor the memory of all those who should still be alive today. They did not lose their lives in vain - the terrorist did not win. Now we all know that we can make it back to the top. Even after being crushed to the ground.
I look forward to surveying the New York City metropolitan area, and looking out 50 miles in every direction towards the horizon. The Freedom Tower’s One World Observatory and 9/11 Memorial & Museum are where I’m going today. I welcome your company.
One World Observatory tickets start at $34
9/11 Memorial & Museum tickets start at $24 for adults