Danielle Anderson
May 11, 2016 08:00 PM

Talk about a never forget it, better stop and take it in, kind of scene!

Cole Swindell‘s latest hit “You Should Be Here” holds a special place in his heart because it’s about his late father. But performing it high on top of the World Trade Center in New York City on Tuesday for families of 9/11 victims, members of the military, first responders and construction workers is a moment that he considers one of the biggest highlights of his career.

“You have no idea how honored I am to be here,” Swindell, who is the first artist to ever play at the newly constructed 4 World Trade Center, told PEOPLE. “It’s something I will never forget.”

In fact, Swindell, 32, has had this date marked on the calendar for some time. “I’ve been looking forward to this and just wondering how it was going to go.” He even stuck mostly to his hits rather than try too much off his brand new album, You Should Be Here, out of fear of messing up. “I was nervous! It’s not a normal situation. You don’t want to mess up a moment like this. It is literally the coolest stage we’ve ever played on.”

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After his emotional performance, Swindell took time to mingle and talk to the families and first responders gathered there to see him. And there was one sentiment in particular he heard from over and over again. “Just how much they appreciated us not forgetting about it,” he says. “That’s the thing – never forget. I promised them we will never forget that day and those that were lost in that tragedy.”

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He continued: “I get to do what I love every night and there’s so many people from the police department, fire department, just everybody that risks everything everyday to make sure we’re safe. It just means a lot to me to be in New York and know that I live in a free country because of what other people are doing.”

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