This past Wednesday was the 18th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks that killed 2,977 lives and injured thousands more.
It was a clear September blue sky morning and I remember it as if it was yesterday. Like all Americans, I can tell you exactly where I was when the news broke of the first plane crashing into 1 World Trade Center.
I will never forget that that day. I will never forget those that lost their lives going back into the burning towers to save their fellow Americans. I will never forget all of those who we lost on 911 and those who continue to suffer from health issues and the emotional scars.
Every time I go to New York City I visit ground zero and take a moment to reflect on America’s worst day in my lifetime. I am always overwhelmed by emotion. I am both angered by the evil that exists and then overcome with love and patriotism for our country, for our friends around the globe and for all the amazing acts of love that followed 911 in how we came together as one.
Since that day, we rebuilt our city and for a while we were headed in the right direction. The direction of love and caring for our fellow Americans regardless of cultural background, race, sexuality, and political party.
I believe that America still exists. I believe behind the divisive news headlines and awful things we see on TV everyday. I believe we truly are better than that. I believe the vast majority of us reflect the love and respect for one another that was so visible following those horrific attacks.
Last December I was in New York City for a commissioned photo shoot and while there, as always, I carved out one evening to visit the 911 memorial. Following my time at ground zero I took the train over to New Jersey to photograph the rebuilt One World Trade Center, or better known in my opinion, as the Freedom Tower. I experienced a moment of reflection and appreciation while I photographed this beautiful architectural symbol of our resilience.
The heavens pointing skyscraper was designed by architect David Childs with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. It is the tallest building in the United States and when you include the spire its total height of 1,776 feet is a reference to the year the United States Declaration of Independence was signed.
I am very proud of this photograph. I captured it during a peaceful December sunset. The air was very cold, I was shaking, the sound of the water was mesmerizing, and there I was by myself with the greatest city on earth.
I share these thoughts as a personal reminder to myself to not forget. We can never forget our fellow Americans we lost. We can never forget how our country came together following that day. We can never forget what makes us truly great. When we come together we are capable of the most beautiful love and accomplishments.
I share this photograph to celebrate what’s right in America.