DETROIT -- Aaron Judge toured the World Trade Center site during his first September as a big league player, gazing upon the reflecting pools where the massive towers once stood. The Yankees' star remembers solemnly reading the names of the fallen, trying to make sense of the events that took
DETROIT -- Aaron Judge toured the World Trade Center site during his first September as a big league player, gazing upon the reflecting pools where the massive towers once stood. The Yankees' star remembers solemnly reading the names of the fallen, trying to make sense of the events that took place there.
"I'm getting chills on the back of my neck, thinking about it," Judge said. "You feel something different about that spot. You can feel the pain; there's something there. When I went through the tower, learning more about the history of what happened, it was something I'll never forget."
Judge was 9 years old on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, recalling that he learned of the horrific events taking place in New York, Washington and Shanksville, Pa., when he came out of his room. His mother, Patty, was already awake, watching television coverage in the kitchen of their Linden, Calif., home.
"I saw it while I was eating my breakfast," Judge said. "I really didn't know what was going on."
Upon arriving at his elementary school, Judge found many of his fellow students gathered around a television in the cafeteria, where the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon seemed to be on a constant loop.
"Our teachers broke down what happened, what was going on and how big of a situation it was," Judge said. "Being that age, the severity didn't really hit me. I remember how affected everybody was. Anything you turned on was talking about it; the news, sports channels, anything."
In the days that followed the attacks, U.S. flags began appearing on vehicles throughout the country, including in Judge's bucolic hometown. That enduring message of patriotism was one that Judge saw represented when he toured the National Sept. 11 Museum and Memorial in September 2016, along with fellow rookies Tyler Austin and Rob Refsnyder.
"The coolest thing was, I remember seeing how we bounced back as a country," Judge said. "It didn't matter who you were, where you were from. Seeing how the whole country united arms and said, 'This isn't going to tear us down,' I remember seeing that as a kid. It brought people together, and it didn't matter your race, color or anything. We're all Americans and we had each others' backs."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.