The title of tonight's documentary on CNBC, Ground Zero Rising: Freedom vs. Fear, pretty much encapsulates the gamut of emotions I traversed as I reported on the rebirth of this sadly special 16 acres in Lower Manhattan.
As someone who has worked downtown most of my life, including that day 15 years ago, I have watched as a hallowed hole in the ground, a gravesite, has been turned into a thoughtful memorial and a bustling center of commerce.
I came into the documentary with what turned out to be two misconceptions, two that you might share as you sit down to watch it at 10 p.m. ET on CNBC. As someone who walks by the gigantic construction site every day, I had pretty much decided that it would take forever to put something together there, something that could meld commerce and remembrance in any dignified way. And I was a bit fearful to go there, something that was brought home when I instinctively ducked my head when I saw a plane reflected on the glass of the gleaming 1,776-foot-high tower on a crystal-clear day when we started filming.
But as we did interview after interview of those directly involved in the reconstruction, including the denizens of the new tower, I learned that the noisy coalition of interests that came together in our own uniquely democratic way was successful in accomplishing the impossible, building an honorable memorial to those who lost their lives as well as erecting a wondrous and secure tower that serves as a monumental statement of defiance and resilience that made me proud of our city and our country.
Merging commerce and remembrance in an honorable way seemed to me to be an impossible goal. After watching tonight's documentary, I would like to think you agree with me that the project has succeeded in doing both, but that's a uniquely personal judgment, one that you must make, too, as I urge you to go see it for yourself, go see the museum dedicated to the tragedy and then go to the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere -- and the most expensive skyscraper on Earth -- to ponder this metaphor for our nation's strength.
The people I interviewed were thoughtful and trenchant in their remembrance while simultaneously proud to look forward to the day when all the work is finished, something that's about to happen very soon, I bet a lot sooner than the vast majority of you realize. The new construction dovetails with the reflection pools that fit the footprint of the original towers far more tastefully and respectfully than I thought possible.
Most importantly, I went into the documentary thinking I would be fearful of working in the Freedom Tower and I finished with a realization that I was too fearful of the address of the building that's now known as One World Trade, recognizing that there's risk of terrorism everywhere these days and this site is just one more target, nothing less but nothing more.
Ultimately, Ground Zero is indeed rising in its own unique way, a story I am proud to have reported on and honored to get to share with you at 10 p.m. ET this evening on CNBC.