NEW YORK -- The Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center happened when Jose Fernandez was a 9-year-old living in Cuba. The tragedy continues to hit home for the Marlins' 21-year-old ace.
On Thursday, Fernandez spent part of his off-day visiting the grounds where the attack occurred and the Freedom Tower now stands.
"That's more important than anything to me," Fernandez said. "I needed to go there. Being there makes you realize a lot of things we take for granted here."
As a child in Cuba, Fernandez knew something terrible occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, but he didn't have many specifics.
"We heard about it," he said. "Not exactly what happened, but we saw the images."
Fernandez has had his own quest for freedom, defecting from Cuba at 15, and settling in Tampa, Fla.
Fernandez posted a photo on Instagram (josedfez16) of himself at the Freedom Tower.
"It's pretty special to be there, even though I wasn't here when it happened," Fernandez said. "It was really special to go there and pay respect to people who died there."