tv America Remembers 20 Years Later MSNBC September 11, 2021 5:00am-9:00am PDT
we want to let you know, brian williams and nicolle wallace will continue our special live coverage after the break. ♪♪ good morning from ground zero in lower manhattan on this september 11th. a clear, stunningly beautiful start to a somber day. so much like that unforgettable morning 20 years ago today that left a hole in the earth here and changed our world forever. brian williams here with you along with nicolle wallace in the shadow of the freedom tower.
we're about a block from the reflecting pool where the twin towers of the world trade center once stood. president joe biden arriving at this moment in lower manhattan. he and jill biden will visit all three memorial sites today. starting here at the museum on this site. vice president kamala harris will speak in shanksville, pennsylvania later this morning, that's where united flight 93 was forced down. she and second gentleman, doug emhoff, will then join the president and the first lady at the pentagon. nicolle wallace, as i always say, for millions of americans especially anyone in the tri-state area, this is the saddest place on earth. >> there's no way to walk by this spot if you're on jury duty a few blocks away, on an errand or going somewhere else that you don't feel gutted by what was
lost here. our day job is to cover politics, what you have in this place and what you have in this remembrance is heroes. heroes who ran into towers. i think 20 years later that means more today than anyone could have imagined that day. >> it's so eerily quiet here. a lot of flight crews in full uniform remembering their own today, members of the fdny, members of the nypd, port authority police. all of them gathering in small groups on corners to be a part of the larger ceremony. >> the unity that new york modeled for the country and for the world is the most important thing to honor today as well as those families who lost loved ones. >> later in our coverage, i want to let folks watching know, i'm
curious to hear about your day that day, two decades ago now. because of your unique perspective on what folded as communications director for president george w. bush. i want to bring in someone we both know and that is mary fetchet. 2,977 people died in the attacks here in new york city alone just behind us. 2,753 people were killed. brad fetche it was all of 24 years old. a proud graduate of bucknell university. working as an equities trader on the 89th floor of the south tower. brad was able to speak with his dad, frank, in the minutes after the north tower was first hit. he left a voicemail for his mom, mary, assuring her he was safe in the other tower.
he signed off with i love you minutes before his own workplace, the south tower was struck. brad fetchet's mother, mary, is with us this morning. she's the executive director of voices center for resilience, formerly voices of 9/11. good morning. thank you for being with us and first of all, your thoughts on this day. you've been a friend for two decades. we check in regularly along the way, but these big anniversaries have a way of focusing the heart and mind. >> i think as you said, it's a somber day for all of our families. beyond that, the responders and survivors, so many people lost friends and colleagues that day. so it really is a national -- not just a national, but
international tragedy. 93 countries lost citizens that day. >> talk about the formation of your organization. how long did it take you after the initial shock, the initial grieving period to realize and like everyone else who lost someone, you were living your life. not knowing that advocacy was about to become a part of your life. how long was it before you realized you had a job to do? >> i was a clinical social worker at the time. so i contacted the families in connecticut. many of the families that lost loved ones, they were wives and caring for their children. unable to go into new york city. so pretty immediately after i started holding meetings in my home and traveling to new york, that's where all the decisions were being made. we needed to be at the table when they were making decisions
that impacted us. but as you said, i also got very involved in advocacy work. so i advocated for a process for that notification of remains. i certainly was involved in advocating for the proper memorial and the bipartisan investigation that led to the 9/11 commission. >> tell us about brad's life? how did he come to work at the trade center? it's a huge job for someone his age. >> well, brad worked for keith, barrett & watson. that firm was like a family to him. he just begun his job, he graduated in may. this was just in september. so i think he -- he was very interested had in certainly finance and of course this was the epicenter for finance.
so that's -- he ended up there and he was very much well-liked and he had his whole life ahead of him. >> mary, talk about time. it strikes me that 20 years don't -- we hear the bagpipes now. it doesn't feel like 20 years. what is your feeling about grief and time? >> it's certainly a milestone. one of the gifts of this horrible tragedy is the community we built. many of these families have been -- we're able to understand what they're going through at any given time. we're a source of support. now the community is growing as i'm sure you know. there's 83,000 responders and survivors in treatment for serious mental health and
medical conditions. now over 4,700 have died of those conditions. so the needs for support continue. everybody is sort of in their own place. everybody goes through grief on their own watch. we're still hearing from individuals we never heard from before for the first time asking for our help. >> our viewers were watching the massive motorcade of president biden arrive nearby, coming up the west side highway. you see him emerging now in front of the museum portion of this memorial. it has already been said hundreds of times on various media, it will be said so many more times that even the weather today is a beautiful way of being a painful reminder of why we're all here.
i have not heard such silence down here in this part of lower manhattan in so, so long. these are all family members, dignitaries, you'll see familiar faces throughout the crowd here today as you will watching the ceremonies at the pentagon and then shanksville, pennsylvania. mary, as you said, as a clinical social worker, your job was not advocacy. your job was certainly not politics. but here we are in this locked down portion of the city having been warned by the department of homeland security, which we remember was born, what, 13 days after the attacks here. having been warned that our biggest threat these days is internal, it's within our country. do you ever allow yourself a guess or a theory about how that might be? how we got where we are today
with our politics? >> it is of concern, but it was a very partisan environment we entered when we were pushing for the 9/11 commission. but what we saw in our advocacy work, we aligned with people that felt that there should be an investigation. that coalition, this 9/11 commission was put into place. and then we worked together with the administration to make sure that those 42 recommendations were implemented and funded. it's an ongoing process and you're absolutely right. i think in the current environment, not just the political environment, but our environment in our communities, people are very divided and really is of great concern to me, you know.
in the past years, the gun violence, the social unrest, attack on the capitol building, these are very -- it's very unpredictable and unsettling for those of us who have gone through a loss like we suffered on september 11th. >> final question, mary, we noted the name change over time in your organization. we noted the presence of the word resilience. for those in search of it, for those who could profit from it, what do they look for on the web? how do they find you? >> after the virginia tech shooting we realized there were no best practices. that's when we started conducting research. so we're providing long-term support for all those that were impacted by 9/11. certainly these brave families of the responders and survivors who have now died 20 years later
need our support. that's a growing population. but we learned so much about growing and healing and resilience from the 9/11 community, we're working with communities impacted by other tragedies both here in the united states and abroad. >> mary fetchet, my friend and neighbor for over 20 years. thank you very much. it's the statue of limitations that never passes on saying to someone like you we are sorry for your loss and thinking of you and all the families today. >> thank you, brian. >> thank you, mary. andrea mitchell is at the pentagon today. andrea, it strikes me that on that morning, that morning of wild sadness and shock and anger, the news media didn't get everything right. there were unsubstantiated
reports on the air, among them that the washington monument had been hit, a car bombing outside the u.s. state department in washington. i'll never forget hearing that on the radio. but then we heard something that seemed other worldly and outlandish beyond what was already the smoldering ruins here, that was the sight of flames and smoke over the pentagon. the pentagon, the center of our defense department had been hit. so talk about what a 20-year journey it's been there. >> a journey that for so many people in this building only ended in a way two weeks ago at the end of the war in afghanistan. but now the continuing presence of al qaeda as part of the taliban, whom we are working with. you talk to people here and elsewhere in the government, at the cia and state department who dedicated their lives trying to
find bin laden and designate al qaeda and fighting the taliban. you know how often there are multiple choice of duty in afghanistan. now we're dealing with them to try to get those we left behind out. the sivs, the translators, they were in combat. you know that, brian. you were over there so often. the translators, the drivers, they were more than that. they were the eyes and ears. they were intelligence operatives because it was they who understood the culture and the language and they could see who was a bad guy or potential threat better than our own people could. so that is part of the tragedy, the continuing tragedy and the concern, when you think that the 9/11 commission said one of the failures was our failure of imagination. we had seen hijackings overseas, bomb threats, but we had never seen an airplane used as a bomb
before. the president of the united states thought it was a small plane going into the world trade center, a tragedy, but not an enormous plot, about 30 minutes in i was able to report for us, from our sources that this was osama bin laden. it was not a shock that it was bin laden. that was the first instinct that all of us had. who else could have coordinated this kind of an attack? he coordinated the attack in 1998 in kenya and tanzania against the u.s. embassies killing so many people, and the "uss col." involved in the world trade center in 1993. a top clinton official said to me that day that we dodged a bullet because six people died, more were injured, but it was not an enormous tragedy. who else could have done this complex plot? it was khalid shaikh mohammed and osama bin laden. so you think back to that and how well prepared we are today.
there are concerns today that getting at the heart of al qaeda and the taliban and worse the isis-k, the haqqani network that is in the government in terms of security, these brutal terrorists originally from pakistan, getting at them without boots on the ground will be so more complex and without our allies. china stands to the north. vladimir putin says we can't base there, we have to take our drones from doha, 1,200 miles away. and in pakistan, such a complicated society. of course iran, we have no diplomatic presence of any sort. this is going to be complex going forward. sitting here on these grounds, you think of someone as complicated and controversial like donald rumsfeld, his record
in iraq and all the rest, what could he do? the president of the united states could not reach his defense secretary because he was running to the site of the blast because those were his guys. as a veteran of world war ii, that's where he was running, to the action. just as those first responders ran up the steps and not down. them thinking also on john theil, they added 200 more names or 250 more names because the incubation for a lot of these diseases they got during those days, months, weeks and months that they were working on the pile, they are just now finding, as he told me yesterday, everyone has a different immune system, everyone is getting sick at a different time. they're getting sick and trying desperately to amend the legislation and provide more coverage to so many more of the survivors who are now afflicted
with what they got just by being without any warning in toxic fumes for so many weeks and months when the government of the united states said there was nothing to worry about. >> you're so right. it's the almost singular tragedy while two decades ago, the death toll is not a static number. it changes. it has grown gradually over these 20 years. andrea mitchell at our post at the pentagon. we'll bring in geoff bennett, she's in shanksville, pennsylvania. it's home of the flight 93 national memorial. jeff, tell us what will happen there today. >> good morning. the ceremony here will pay tribute and honor to the selflessness of those 40 american heroes that were on
board flight 93. that crew and passengers saving the lives of thousands of people in washington, d.c., potentially at the capitol or at the white house. that was the presumed target of that flights. we know former president george w. bush will deliver remarks. vice president kamala harris will deliver the keynote. before that, at 10:03 a.m. eastern time, the precise moment that the plane crashed, all 40 names of the victims will be read allowed and then bells will toll. so much of what happened on board that flight is now part of american lore. flight 93 took off from newark to san francisco. about 45 minutes into the flight, as it was above the skies of cleveland, ohio. two distress calls came in from the cockpit. the passengers realizing that something was amiss as the hijackers set the plane via autopilot on a course to
washington, d.c., used the air phones on board the plane, 13 calls in all. people calling their friends and loved ones. they quickly realized their flight was part of a larger attack. the passengers, many of them strangers because so many of those folks had been flying alone, in this moment of intense, immediate, unspeakable danger, they took a vote. they took a vote and decided to take back control of that plane. todd beamer with that declaration and innovation, really "let's roll." within minutes that plane came crashing down in these pastoral hills outside of shanksville. what was once scorched earth here now has come to this. friends, family members pay tribute to that final act of courage. >> could not be a more stark way
to remember all those souls lost on that day. nicole, there was differing theories, was it headed for the white house? was it headed for the capitol? most of the investigation points to its ultimate destination being the seat of power at the capitol. but again, on that awful day, it was just one chilling aspect. >> it's in the 9/11 report, this detail about them taking a vote. it's a story of not just unthinkable courage, it's a story of collaboration, of democracy in the skies above pennsylvania. i met the families of those who were lost on flight 93. i was a white house staffer. they believe that their loved ones sacrifices saved, as you said, the seat of power, the united states congress, the white house. and we were talking at the beginning of the hour about what endures.
it's these extraordinary heroics. these extraordinary human beings who just got on airplanes that day and became forever heroes. >> joe biden is on the grounds. we're close enough we could hear the arrival of the motorcade. we're just going to be switching back and forth between the pictures that our pool cameras can pick up on this sight. site. this site took years and years to take shape. there were so many discussions, so many legal hurdles of what to do here, how best to represent what happened here. a good many of us thought maybe the most appropriate, stark, sharp memorial might have been that last tall shard of the remaining trade center that perhaps dramatically set off,
would of in its own way spoken for the attacks. it was decided on the concept of reflecting pools at the footprint of the two towers that -- the oculus, the museum. we can't urge people enough when visiting new york, be ready. it is a tough day. it's an emotional day on a good day. but the 9/11 museum, first of all, needs your help. it needs visitor dollars to survive and to curate the many, many exhibits they have. it tells the story of what happened here. it tells the story of the lives lost here. i keep dwelling on it. this is lower manhattan, even
though it is early, early on a saturday morning, nicole. i can't remember this kind of stillness. >> you can hear a pin drop. it is a remarkable -- i don't know if it's a symptom of the security around here or a combination of that with what this day means. not just to this city, but to this neighborhood. >> yeah. security is tight. that's a visual you see throughout the crowd. just everyone carrying a memento. it's safe to say that everyone you see down here this morning, everyone in the crowd, everyone in the gallery has a personal story. and that started with a loss, just like mary fetchet the morning of september 11th. you see the concept of the reflecting pools. among our correspondents who covered that day, who covered
the aftermath years on after september 11th, correspondent rehema ellis who is with us again today. i'm curious as to your perspective from where you are. >> brian, i'm struck by what you mentioned about the tower behind me. you're right, it took years. it was 14 years before this one world trade center, this stunning, sparkling tower behind me was built. and it didn't open until 2015. and here we are now and unfolding is a solemn tradition. just moments ago, we were looking at pictures of people standing by the reflecting tool. the tears were flowing. they were wiping tears from their eyes. the tears flowing like the water in the pool as they began to undertake or enact something that they've been doing now since 9/11. that is remembering those lost with a traditional reading of
nearly 3,000 names of people who were killed that day. it's striking to remember something also that there was one company that lost the largest number of people on 9/11. it was 658 people who died and worked for the cantor fitzgerald company. something beautiful has come out of it. 60 kids, of those who died, are now working in the cantor fitzgerald financial firm. i want you to listen in just a moment to a man, his name is howard lutnick. he's the ceo of the company. he's also grieving because his brother was among those who was killed. >> the way i think about it, the best way to show someone who died that you love them is to love the people that they loved. so you go out and you take care of their kid, right? i'll have a lot of friends up there. that's the best thing. so we got great young people, they love the firm. they care about the firm in a
way that regular employees just could never. and they're committed to us. we're committed to them. it's amazing. >> howard survived that day because he talks about he was on his way to work but he was going late. as fate would have it, it's because he was dropping off his son at school. that's the reason that he survived when so many others, including his brother, died. what he says now is we have to remember that life is short. it's so important to get on with your lives. and he says that giving back is what helps him to mend his broken heart. >> i just can't. >> the city is so full of stories like that. it became well-known in real time that's the only reason that howard lutnick survived. thanks to his survival he has
spent 20 years making good on that promise. >> yeah. amazing. >> absolutely. rehema ellis, thanks. as we believe that right now the president is certainly out of camera range but behind closed doors with families, so much has been said and written and shown about his empathy. and you got to see this at the white house level, the presidential level up close. what do you say? >> i remember the time president bush came up here, not the thursday when he came up here and grabbed the bullhorn and said i hear you and soon the world will hear you. he came back a few weeks later and met with families who knew it was a recovery effort, not a rescue effort at ground zero. he met arlene howard who gave
him the badge of her son. he carried it with him through his entire presidency. i believe during his convention speech or one of his big addresses he asked where the courage comes from to carry on. i think every president since 9/11 has been so humbled and moved by these families. by the survivors. by these rituals of grief. of reading all the names. by the act of running into towers. by the act of remembering. by the act of convening a meeting above the skies of pennsylvania and saying "let's roll." i think every president has been shaken, moved and fortified by those stories. >> we should probably mention for context the immediate past president issued a video today that is in part critical of the situation in afghanistan.
the immediate past president is planning on being a guest announcer for a prize fight tonight. >> well, that is what it is. i think that this is a day that is so above all of the sort of stench of our politics that -- >> it should be. >> -- his choices are his choices. i hope the people that see him have a good night. let's bring in our next guest. jim mccarthy, 9/11 first responder, president of the fdny. he was off duty on 9/11. drove into manhattan with a fellow firefighter when he heard of the attacks. he arrived at ground zero shortly after the towers had fallen. one thing that a lot of civilians don't understand. firefighters across the country walk around with the number 343
in their head because that was the death toll that day in the fdny. what was less clear to civilians, this was a decapitation of the management of the greatest fire department in the world. all the white helmets, all of the battalion chiefs responded. many of them were in the lobbies of those towers doing their jobs. chief pfeiffer famously was first on the scene as a battalion chief. first guy to call in and say make this three alarms. i think it went to 14. there's nothing higher in the city of new york. talk about that day. there were almost battlefield promotions that had to happen to fortify the ranks, to fortify management. >> among the 343 firefighters that were killed that day were 89 officers from the chief of department to deputy
commissioners. and they did lose a lot of the command, but the small units, the captains and the lieutenants and the firefighters took over as they often do and most of them work on the ground. so we worked very well with our individual companies. so they took over and did what they had to do because it was obvious from the -- from our experience with collapses that we have to do searches and that's what the individual companies do. >> in the fire service, certainly in the extended fdny family, there were legendary names lost that day. oreo palmer comes to mind, terry has th hatton comes to mind. where were you on that day? >> i was assigned to 55 truck by the bronx, yankees stadium. my brother dennis called me, he
lived in florida, and said a plane hit the world trade center. we turned the tv on, just watched it. i thought it was a tragic accident happened because it was so clear. then we saw the second plane hit while we were watching the news. i told him we're under attack, so i had to hang up and go into work. so i called three friends that are also fdny members, alex, jimmy and jeremy. we got together in town and got in one car and drove down here because we thought it was going to be difficult taking individual cars. jeremy castle's uncle is jay jonas, the captain of 6 truck, who we found in the stairwell with the rescuers during the collapse and he survived. we stopped by to see his wife to give her assurances we were coming down to help him and be part of the effort. we raced down to new york city and came into the firehouse in
the bronx. >> i know nicole has some questions. i'm curious, what were those initial -- fog of war, i'm sure -- what were the initial hours and days like for you here? >> well, i don't think we thought it was going to collapse. then when it did, you thought about the tragic loss of life. the number of people that were here in the towers and our brothers and sisters that were working down here at the trade center. you knew that there was a lot of people killed. a large number of people will be our brothers and sisters in the fire department. then we come to find out later that the number that we lost. but coming down here, traveling to the city and coming down to this site, you think about trying to find somebody, hopefully a survivor. after that, you want to find the remains of any of the team so they can bring them home to their families.
what is it like today? how often a day, a week, do you think about that day? >> the fire department, especially the fdny, we have a tradition where we put brass plaques on the wall at every firehouse. every one has the name, location, where they were killed and the date. we have a ceremony to bless them and put them on our walls in each firehouse. everybody that gets assigned to that firehouse has to research those people. get their names, get their story. and then report back to the senior guys and people in the unit. but we all know their stories. we carry on that memory of everybody. so every day we think about the people that were killed on the line of duty from the beginning of the fire department to today. so, never forget is not a slogan for us or a bumper sticker. it's a lifestyle. this is what we do.
>> just want to interrupt for one second and state the obvious for those watching. we have three american presidents within a few feet of each other. they just entered the grounds. we saw the bidens, we saw the obamas, we saw the clintons. president clinton is the closest to the camera now as they greet people in the crowd. again, the occasional siren connected with the various motorcades down here, but absolute striking silence as we mark this day coming up on 8:36 a.m. all of the moments that tick by now have a significance. the timestamps on everyone's memory, having to do with gruesome things like impact and collapse. impact and collapse several times over that morning in three different states.
we're talking with jim mccarthy, fdny. not far from here, we can just about see it from here, the 10 house, ladder 10, engine 10, which was the most heavily impacted in more ways than one. closest firehouse to this tragedy. i walked by last night, a lot of their members were enjoying a beverage next door at oh o'harrah's. a lot of them were greeting each other. some clearly had not seen each other in years. i took in the scene. it's a heavy atmosphere. firefighters do remembrance well. it's a heavy atmosphere. >> unfortunately we have extensive experience with the line of duty and all over the
country, it building a camaraderie to work together, keep each other safe, that builds a bond that goes on forever. we often say you can visit any firehouse around the country and certainly in this city and be welcomed by the members working there at the time. old friendships are renewed every time we get together. >> thank you very much for making us a part of your day. we know something about how solemn it is for you and your members. we appreciate it. glad to have you here. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. >> firefighter jim mccarthy. nicole, you were talking about our political traditions. here is one of our political traditions. it has -- i can say it without reservation -- it has always been pleasing to americans to
see their former leaders together. >> yeah. i think that, you know, i alluded to this earlier, this day calls on more than our angels, it calls on our better selves. there's a tradition of former presidents, and george w. bush will be in shanksville, pennsylvania. this is, with the exception of the most recent president, something that we will see all the others commemorate. i think they'll try to honor and lift up family members. >> they're going through the crowd. these interactions are highly personal. one by one. all of the six members of the three combined couples, they all do personal tactile politics very well. >> they were all together,
including george w. bush, they were altogether for president biden's inauguration. after november 6th, it became more than a grace note, it became a demonstration of the viability and strength of our democracy itself. so president clinton, president obama, president george w. bush cut ads about getting vaccinated, i believe, during that period of time when they were in washington and they may have done it afterwards. there are some active members of the former president's club who still -- who are actively working for president biden's goal of getting the whole country vaccinated and protected from covid who all put out statements, sounding a lot of the same notes after january 6th, after the insurrection. there's a vibrant connection between these former presidents, with the exception of the one we mentioned earlier. >> i mentioned the time stamps on our memory.
the time stamps from that day that have, of course for the families, victims, first responders, they have become codified. they've become etched in the memory over the years. 8:46 is the first of them. 8:46 was when we realized first off that we had a major tragedy in new york city. we had had a major emergency. that's when the first responders started to roll. famously recorded by the french documentary crew, that's when chief pfeiffer was standing not far from here in lower manhattan, saw the plane go over his head. had the presence of mind to start directing the response. 8:46 will be the first of our moments of silence it was upon
impact of the second aircraft when everyone's minds switched to something else. this had gone beyond random accident. this had gone beyond an incident involving an aircraft and an office building. this had become an incident that would change our lives forever. we'll take some of this in as we see uniform members of the fdny, nypd, port authority police department.
by the dawn's early light ♪ ♪ what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming? ♪ ♪ whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight ♪ ♪ o'er the ramparts we watched ♪ ♪ were so gallantly streaming? ♪ ♪ and the rockets' red glare ♪ ♪ the bombs bursting in air ♪ ♪ gave proof through the night ♪ ♪ that our flag was still there ♪ ♪ oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave ♪ ♪ o'er the land of the free ♪ ♪ and the home
>> the moment of silence. the moment of silence we just shared marks the very moment 20 years ago that american airlines flight 11 flew into the north tower of the world trade center. my name is mike lowe, and my daughter, sarah elizabeth lowe, was a flight attendant on that plane. these 20 years have felt like a long time and a short time. as we recite the names of those we lost, my memory goes back to that terrible day. when it felt like an evil specter had descended on our world, but it was also a time when many people acted above and beyond the ordinary.
beginning with the act sh actio the flight crews like sarah, and the passengers on the four flights, the individuals in the towers, the professionals of the fire and police and later the volunteers who helped work on the pile since recovering our loved ones remains. they helped pull us through the darkest days of our lives. in the last 20 years, my family and i have at times known unbearable sorrow and disbelief about the lives that would never be. years we have filled with speaking out on my daughter's behalf and calling on many more precautions. and also for the history to be remembered not as numbers and a date, but the faces of ordinary people, people who looked a lot like sarah. at the first memorial ceremony, my wife, bobbi and i, stood here
with thousands of family members amidst a gray and black world of destroyed buildings. today this is a quiet place of memory. the gleaming 9/11 museum holds a sacred repository for our loved ones remains. the still brightly stories of sons, daughters, siblings, husbands, wives, grandparents and friends. as we carry these 20 years forward, i find a continuing appreciation for all of those who rose to be more than ordinary people. a father's pride in his daughter's selfless acts in the last moments of her life. acting with heroic calm to help those in the air and those on the ground. a legacy from sarah that burns like an eternal flame.
joanne ahladiotis shabbir ahmed terrance andre aiken godwin ajala gertrude m. alagero andrew alameno margaret ann jezycki alario gary albero jon l. albert jon l. albert peter craig alderman i look at your nephew's face and i see you in his face sometimes and i cherish those moments. 20 years have gone by and so much has changed in our lives that the memory of you and keeping you close to us and
cherishing the gift of your life never changes and never will. and my father, edward joseph papa. dad we miss you every day, our greatest gifts are your beautiful grandchildren. they embody your kind spirit, loving nature and zest for life. they are a reminder that your legacy lives on. we love you, dad. jacquelyn delaine aldridge frederick. david d. alger ernest alikakos edward l. allegretto eric allen
joseph ryan allen richard dennis allen richard lanard allen christopher edward allingham ana s s. w. allison. janet m. alonso anthony alvarado antonio javier alvarez juan cisneros alvarez telmo alvear cesar a. alviar tariq amanullah angelo amaranto james amato joseph amatuccio paul w. ambrose. christopher charles amoroso craig scott amunson. kazuhiro anai calixto anaya jr. joseph peter anchundia kermit charles anderson
yvette anderson john jack andreacchio michael rourke andrews jean ann andrucki siew-nya ang joseph angelini sr. joseph john angelini jr. david lawrence angel. laura angilletta doreen j. angrisani lorraine antigua >> ronald phillip calopa. >> and my uncle joseph reno, jr. we miss you more than you can
imagine. i see you in everything my son does and i know that you see us because i feel you. continue to watch over us and your family. 20 years feels like an eternity, but yet it still feels like yesterday. until we meet again my love, rest in peace. peter paul apollo faustino apostol jr. frank thomas aquilino patrick michael aranyos david gregory arce michael g. arczynski louis arena adam p. arias michael armstrong jack charles aron
brett t. bailey garnet ace bailey. tatyana bakalinskaya michael s. baksh sharon balkcom michael andrew bane kathleen ban tis. >> and my uncle, christopher michael mazula, i know you're with us every day watching over us, even though i never met you in person i miss you a lot. mom tells me the crazy fun things you did, and i'm sure if you were here i'd be doing them with you. thank you for being the best guardian angel and sending us killian. mom says i have your charm and fearlessness. you, pop and dad have inspired
me to follow in your footsteps and become a firefighter, too. we hope you watch over us and keep us safe. we love you uncle chris. and my sister, see celia richard w. lawson. cc it's been 20 years since you left us. i remember it as if it was yesterday. you are remembered by your mother, sister, nieces and nephews. it was such a sad day. i remember you working at the pentagon and when they told us an airplane attacked the pentagon, i couldn't believe it. from the building where i worked at epa, i could see the smoke, and i couldn't believe that -- that you're gone. >> we ask that everyone silence all mobile devices. >> we miss you. thank you so much.
gerard baptiste walter baran gerard a. barbara paul vincent barbaro james w. barbella victor daniel barbosa colleen ann barkow david michael barkway matthew barnes melissa rose barnes. sheila patricia barnes evan j. baron renee barrett-arjune arthur t. barry diane g. barry maurice vincent barry scott d. bart carlton w. bartels guy barzvi inna basina alysia christine basmajian kenneth william basnicki steven j. bates paul james battaglia
w. david bauer ivhan luis carpio bautista marlin capito bautista. marlyn c. bautista jasper baxter michele beale todd m. beamer paul f. beatini jane s. beatty allen anthony bevin. lawrence ira beck. manette marie beckles carl john badishin. >> and my uncle thomas s. swift we miss you. you live on in the hearts and minds of your family. we love you and think about you every day. i can't wait to see you again.
>> and my brother, thomas hargrave who we continue to miss every day. the world is a lesser place without him. maria behr max j. bilky. yelena belilovsky nina patrice bell devi s. bellows. stephen elliot belson paul m. benedetti denise lenore benedetto bryan craig bennett eric l. bennett oliver bennett margaret l. benson dominick j. berardi james patrick berger steven howard berger john p. bergin alvin bergsohn daniel david bergstein
friend ♪ ♪ and though you're gone and my heart's been emptied it seems i'll see you in my dreams ♪ ♪ i got the old guitar here by my bed ♪ ♪ all your favorite records and all the books that you read ♪ ♪ and though my soul feels like it's been split at the seams, i'll see you in my dreams ♪ ♪ i'll see you in my dreams ♪ ♪ when all our summers have come
william bernstein david m. berray david shelby berry joseph john berry william reed bethke timothy d. betterly >> having just heard from bruce springsteen who was so essential to the recovery spiritually of new york and new yorkers in the tri-state area. we want to let our viewers in on what we've been watching. this is the reading of the names which has become a yearly tradition. it is a -- a long and exhaustive and such an emotional time every year, 2,700 names here in new york. we also wanted to show you the start of the service at the
pentagon. and in shanksville, pennsylvania, all of these events are happening concurrently. they all mark different times, and sadly the times we're talking about are impacts of aircraft and the loss of so many souls. and geoff bennett, our correspondent in shanksville is standing by with colonel chris wayland, and his cousin died on flight 93 when it impacted there. geoff? >> reporter: brian, that's right. richard was among those 40 american heroes, as you talk about the ceremonies under way at the pentagon and here in shanksville, pennsylvania we expect the ceremony to start here at 9:40, when the crew and passengers fought back on the
plane. vice president harris will be here, she'll say what happens tells us so much about the courage on board who gave everything, the resolve of the first responders who risked everything, the resilience of the american people. and i'm joined by army colonel wayland. your cousin was among those folks on that day that took a stand for freedom that cost their lives. >> truly an amazing moment. they democratically voted to take action together. and knowing that they probably wouldn't survive. and they took what we know later to be the very first steps against what was a long war on terror. >> on this day we are reflecting and focussing a lot in the ways in which your family members and so many other family members were taken from us.
what was richard like when he was here? >> oh, okay. when he was here, yes. richard was a lover of all things outdoors. fish and wildlife, his chosen career. loved to grow things in his garden, cook. loved to play guitar and actually built some guitars he played. whatever richard did, he did with great passion. i didn't know him well because i was younger and didn't live nearby. but the stories i wish i had known him better because whatever he did did with great gusto. >> we talked about how now there are members of your family making sure that america gets the freedom that your cousins started that day. >> yes. i'm part of the group here which i like working with them to make the park a better place.
my son is 9, he wasn't even a thought when 9/11 happened but we're committed to making sure we're involved here for generations to come so he'll be involved here when my wife and i are long gone as well. this is -- this area is not new york city, the pentagon, the financial and military capitals of the nation. so you need to come here and be deliberate about it. so we want people to remember this site and these 40 passengers for their actions. you know, as a matter of fact the new york and washington d.c. locations. >> how much of that is a concern for you and the other family members that people might forget what happened here? >> it's always in the back of our minds because there weren't many people here and it's not as big a deal and it's far away. but this park is beautiful. as i was telling you earlier, richard who loved the outdoors would do whatever he needed for the right thing which was flight 93 and the actions they took. but he'd be pleased and honored
to know that the strip mine that was here is now a beautiful thousands of acre national park where there's great wildlife, animals and everything else that encourages americans to come here and see the park for the heroes but also the beauty it is here. >> can you help us understand the journey, the committed collective effort involved in bringing this memorial together for the first decade the memorial as it exists now that was not here. it was a makeshift effort of locals and family members making the trip out here to do what they could to pay tribute to their loved ones. >> it was. i came here my first year, two or three years after, it was a chain link on a hill not a lot to see. a makeshift temporary memorial with the bell they have to honor and ring them during the reading of names. it's changed over the years to
the wall with the flight path and then the visitor's center which has the history as well. and then finally the tower of voices i know you are at a couple years ago when that was dedicated. it has been a long vision from the local people who i'm very much appreciative of, those who gave their land up. the locals who helped design and support the memorial. the locals who support the friends group now and state, local, federal government for all of their work. they committed to making this park. the national park service who runs the site very well. and then, of course, the private fund-raisers and donors who gave of their time and money so this could be a reality. >> you were talking earlier and you said that chris' father, who's now 97 is here. >> richard's father. >> right. his father, who's 97 years old is here for the ceremony today. how has his loss resonated in your family the last 20 years?
>> i have one child and he's alive but you can't imagine outliving your son and having to do that for a generation pass. i know it's hard for him to see and remember every year here and it's hard for us to watch that and him and his daughter, richard's sister laurie and see the grief they have now. but i think that, in some ways, makes us more resolved to make sure we don't forget and that everyone collectively remembers the 40 year. >> absolutely. a moment of remembrance and reflection, indeed. brian, nicole? >> geoff bennett, thank you so much. thank you colonel chris wayland. we have a chance to bring in our coverage someone special. on the morning of september 11th, george w. bush was visiting second graders in sarasota, florida. he was reading a book when the
second plane struck the world trade center just after 9:00. the president's chief of staff andrew carr approached president bush and told him america was under attack. we're joined by andy carr and one of the second grade students at emma booker elementary school 20 years ago now a chemical engineer. thank you for being here. andy, what do you remember about that moment and that day? >> i knew i was delivering a message that was a very rare message. and the venue was completely disconnected from the magnitude of the message. walking into a classroom of second graders, in front of a press pool, where you really couldn't have a conversation, and the complete innocence of those second graders, it was just surreal.
normally a president would be getting a message in the oval office, be woken up in the middle of the night and it wouldn't have been one person going in, it would have been two or three people and it would have been a discussion. i knew what i was about to say to him would change his presidency. i also knew that it was a dramatic moment. it's an iconic photograph. i am not iconic. but that picture does define an era. and those students responded so well. i kind of followed some of the students since those days and had the privilege over the last few days to actually connect with a couple of them. and they had two different views of what had happened. and i just think that's entirely appropriate. and it's good for them to tell their story as to how they either felt emotionally engaged or they were wondering what was going on and felt as if thaw weren't being told.
so -- but it's -- it's critically important that those students that were there tell students that are in the second grade right now what it was like. >> i want to bring one such student in. lazaro, you chose new york city to study, to go to college, because of connection you felt to that day and this spot. talk about how that sort of -- was an inflection point, i don't know if you're 7 can you have an inflection point? just talk about that day and how it altered your course. >> that day was important to the development of my adult life. i've mentioned it before that that day, 9/11, is one of the earliest moments of my life where you kind of realize how big the world is. i grew up in sarasota, florida my whole life. and for me the world at the age of 7 was my home, the road to emma booker and the school
itself. i remember the day of the attack, when you become a little more aware, i knew what new york city was, but the world trade center i think was -- i was completely unknown to me. so we're made aware of these tacts, that the world is a bigger place and america is more vulnerable than what we were led to believe. and that in me inspired a sort of -- i wouldn't say adventurous, but curiosity to see the rest of the world. in my adult life i've lived and moved in at least four different cities. that is something that i do not want to discontinue. and that is a result of that day, right. it inspires you and kind of makes you realize the world is a lot bigger place than your house and your school. >> lazaro, what do you remember from the moment when andy carr
walked in and told the president, did you hear what he said? he made some remarks before he left your school, when did it sink in what was going on? >> so, i -- i didn't hear what he said. i was in the back left row, there's two rows of chairs that were set in front of the president. and i was in the back left of there, you can kind of see me sometimes in the footage. i didn't hear what he said, but -- so the way we were reading to the president was in taking turns reading passages to him, so each student is picked upon to read a passage to him. i wasn't a good reader and wasn't following along so i was distracted trying to catch up. the moment andrew carr walked in, i noticed him walking in and i saw him whispering in the president's ear, so that moment is something i watched live. i saw the president's gaze kind
of veer off for a little bit and it's like he mentally loses himself just for a moment before recomposing himself and briefly coming back to the classroom. i saw that, i remember being slightly confused and almost thinking to myself, he had to go to the bathroom or he was, you know, losing himself in the reading like i was. so it was almost amusing in that way. we didn't find out about the attack until after he had left and we were explained as to why he had to cut his reading short. he was there to read to multiple classrooms. mrs. daniels was the first of many that he was to read to. we were confused as to why he had to cut the meeting short. we were made aware of the attacks shortly after he left, though. >> i love your description of yourself as a student. you've obviously gone on to huge, huge things in your life. i want to ask you, andy, there's no aspect of president bush's presidency that's gone without
harsh scrutiny, including this moment. can you tell us what was on his mind? >> well, i -- when i whispered in his ear, i truly believed that he was reflecting on the burden that he now had to carry. i say this sincerely, i believe that's the moment he became the president. he took the oath of office january 20th at noontime, but his mind was thinking about his inaugural address, the agenda he wanted to accomplish as president. when i whispered into his ear, i honestly believe he reflected on, i have a job to do. a unique job. i have a unique oath that i took. and it is to preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the united states and all of us. so i really believe that he stepped up to the expectation that a president has. and what we have of a president. i was very impressed with the deliberate way he made decisions. he was not making decisions out
of emotion. he was really doing it with resolve. and he was careful. i was very impressed. when we got on air force one one of the things he said was get president putin on the phone. i want him to know we're not looking to go to war with him, he shouldn't react in a negative way whatsoever. no one told him to do it, he told me to get president putin on the phone. bingo that happened. i'm grateful for the way he led that day. my job was to be cool, calm and collected and help him make tough decisions. the president's in shanksville right now. i remember when the president was on the phone with the vice president and the vice president was asking if the president would authorize our fighter jet pilots to shoot down commercial jet liners. i suspect vice president cheney already gave the order but i heard the president confirm he would give the order to do that.
he said to me after that, i was an international guard pilot, i can't imagine receiving that order. i was impressed he had empathy for those who would have to carry out mandates he put out there. it just demonstrated to me that he was truly empathic as a leader, rather than a commander. so it was a wonderful witness for me to see how the president really stepped up to meet a responsibility and then one of the first things he has to do is talk to bob mueller, get the fbi director on the phone. bob mueller had only been the fbi director for ten days. so he was focused on, number one, there was going to be a consequence. but number two, what are we doing to prevent whatever comes next. so what are we going to do to prevent what could be next. how are we going to build a coalition to respond? what should our response be?
i was just very impressed he was not the least bit selfish that day, he was completely engaged and trying to do the right thing. >> mr. secretary, every year i vow not to reimmerse myself into the readings and documentaries about what happened here and every year i fall into the same pattern. and every year i remind myself of the time line. this is the incredible part to me. regarding your role in this, and i want to hear about the infrastructure behind the scenes. as you've been talking, we saw some of the -- the photos of the makeshift office area that follows when the white house is on the road. 9:03, it's hell on earth here, the second tower has been hit. when you famously leaned over to whisper in the president's ear, it's 9:05. most of us mortals are still processing, wait a minute, this
isn't an accident anymore. talk about the infrastructure you had around you that allowed you, in the elapsed time of two minutes, to go out and tell the leader of the free world what happened here. >> candidly, chiefs of staff have to make decisions all day long, does the president need to know. it's amazing how many people come in, i have to see the president right now. so i wrestled with that after a navy captain, deb lowery, she came to me, she was the director of the white house situation room, went on to become an admiral, one of the first admirals in the navy, she told the president it appeared to be a prop plane, told me it was a commercial jet liner and then said, my god, another plane. and that's when i stood there and said to myself, does the president need to know? yes, he does.
what do i say? i need to be efficient with my words. i knew it was not a coincidence or accident the two planes hit the world trade center towers. i knew that. if i had to raise my hand and swear on a stack of bibles that's what it was. i used the word attack because it was -- it had to have been planned. it had to have been planned. but we haven't had in this country is the nature of an attack that didn't come from a foreign state. this came from a group of terrorists. i thought about ubl, osama bin laden, i knew about the attacks on the world trade center in 1993, yes, i put that all together and reflected on it. i also reflected on another moment both of you will remember. i was the acting chief of staff for the first president bush when he threw up on the japanese prime minister in tokyo. i was like everyone is going to
think the president is dying. i took out my laminated card as the acting chief of staff and said i'm going to do everything on this card that it says to do in case. i said, today with president bush i'm going to do everything i can consistent with my obligation to help him make tough decisions and i tried to do that. yes, we had firm arguments and conversations. we should have. candidly because the decisions should not be easy. if you're making a presidential decision, it should be a hard decision. the president had to make hard decisions. i do think it's appropriate for people to question what we did and how we did it. i accept that. i'm the one who made the decision not to just go in and pull him out of the chair and say, come with me. i was pleased how he reacted, because i don't think he did introduce fear to those young students. i don't think he demonstrated fear to the media. and they would have loved to have had a picture of fear, but
the terrorists would have most desired it, and it would have played right into the hands of the terrorist. i think the president reacted well. i was grateful that he sat there for several minutes. it was about 7.5 minutes, didn't seem that long to me, but it gave me a chance to get things done in that little room where the staff was. i could say get the fai director on the phone, get a line open to the situation room. get mark tillman and the staff back on air force one, get the secret service to turn the motorcade around. get some remarks written for the president and don't have him say anything we do not know to be the truth. then the president walked in and said get the fbi director on the phone, right here, mr. president. >> there he is. >> i want to bring lazaro back in. what do you do on this day every year? did being in that classroom change how the anniversaries and especially this one, go for you? >> so i really tried to approach
it in almost a humble way. if you're asking if there's any sort of ceremony or ritual i participate in? not really. i try to approach it as if it was any other day. obviously as one of the students in in the classroom that's difficult to do. i'm constantly reminded of that day, but it's something that i do try to keep in the back of my mind unless it's deliberately brought up. i'm never ashammed to be part of that day but it doesn't come up in organic conversation. i like to take a quiet moment on myself and reflect, as is tradition across america. >> amazing. >> i'm told the pentagon ceremony -- >> is under way? >> -- is under way. we should listen to a moment or two of that.
>> we're back. we've been speaking with former white house chief of staff to president george w. bush andy car. i have a question about flight 93, where president bush will be. i spoke to condoleezza rice last night. she said authority had been granted to the vice president, she was there with him that day to take down a passenger jet and it was unclear at the moment whether that's what had happened. >> it was not very long after president bush spoke to vice president cheney and authorized or at least confirmed the authorization for our fighter jet pilots to shoot down the commercial jet liners that you learned flight 93 had crashed in shanksville. there were several of us on air force one that wondered was that one of our planes that did it? and we got an answer pretty
quickly because of the faa. but it was still haunting us and it would have been huge conscience challenge for us if it had been one of our pilots. and as the president said, i can't imagine receiving the order to do it. gratefully, we can say there were some heroes on that flight that deserve the medal of honor, if they were wearing uniforms they would have gotten it, but because they weren't wearing uniforms they are national heroes because we declare them national heroes. >> i have to say, at the risk of ruffling feathers in the aviation community, it would have been great to re-route air travel today. for about the third time i have looked up. i understand we have kennedy, laguardia, white plains, but aircraft directly overhead and the noise they make in this
cavern. >> for months after 9/11 i was working in the white house, see an airplane over d.c. was so haunting. >> and for years here. >> yeah. it is so quiet. we hear it. >> it is hauntingly quiet. i remember we were at camp david right after 9/11. and all of a sudden we heard jets. and that's because they were our jets keeping people away. and there was a small piper pilot flying by and the jets were on him and quickly. and that disrupted the quiet. >> yeah. >> in d.c. -- >> who's that? that's us. andy, i want to ask you about how the heroics of the day changed george w. bush. i never heard the president talk about himself and what he did on 9/11. but i remember working on speeches, even years later and we'd have to take sections out
because we knew he wouldn't get through them, he'd break down in tears. and one of the lines came from where the strength came from to do what people did that day. talk about how the stories of that day changed him. >> i think he had resolve. and i think he saw -- he saw he had a greater purpose than he even thought he had when he took the oath of president. i think that having to respond to the terrorists the way he had to respond, knowing that we had to go to war, that he decided i am going to be resolute and strong, and i'm going to be -- i want to be a leader that leads people with optimism during a difficult time. he was elected in such a controversial election. there were, as you know, entities that didn't want to call him mr. president. >> right. >> that disappeared. we all took the label american.
president bush, i think, demonstrated that he could be our leader and we were proud of it. he also worked very hard to build a coalition. and it was not an easy thing to do. he reached out to almost every world leader and invited them to be part of the solution. he actually commanded the world, you're either with us or against us, and you remember some leaders didn't want to be with us or against us, they wanted to be both. but he was filled with resolve. he had -- he had confidence, he had confidence in his team, you know, the folks who worked at the white house really rallied and did a great job. even my secretary, josephine robinson, he was remarkable on 9/11 just responding. linda gambatisto, she did a great job pulling things together. and i think the president recognized that and wanted to
>> announcer: ladies and gentlemen, please be seated. it is my pleasure to introduce general mark a. milley chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. >> mr. secretary, distinguished guests, thank you all for participating in this morning's ceremony. but most importantly i want to thank the people we're here for
today. the survivors of the murderous attack on this building and the families of the fallen. thank you all for participating and we are all deeply humbled to be standing here on this sacred ground. 20 years ago began as a typical morning for pentagon employees. those in uniform and our civilian colleagues settled into the rhythms and routines of a normal tuesday morning with a near cloudless sky, temperatures in the low 60s, and it promised to be a beautiful day. the passengers and crew of american airlines flight 77, were a little over an hour into their flight from dulles to l.a., fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters. all that changed at 9:37 a.m.
as the innocent were caught in the cross fire of terror. the ideology of hatred unfolded on this very ground. in seconds, scores of lives were lost. 184 men, women and children were slaughtered in the violent impact and fury. 59 passengers and crew. 125 of our pentagon colleagues. and the innocent ranged in age from 3 to 71 years old. those who perished here were among the 2,977 killed on that day here, in new york, and in pennsylvania. not for what they did, but for what they believed and what they represented.
not for anything they did, but rather, for who they were. the people we lost that day are not just names and numbers. remember them today for not only who they are, but what they could have become. they were irreplaceable to their families. instrumental in their jobs, woven into the fabric of their community. full of life and potential. lives cut short. pain that can never be properly described in words. suffering that will never fully heal. and no words that i, nor anyone else, will ever say that can fill the gaping hole. but we, the living, we have a solemn duty to honor their
memory, their legacy, to honor and remember them, not just today but every day, the horrific acts of terrorism on that day were meant to disrupt our way of life and destroy the idea that is america. that idea is simple, yet incredibly powerful. the idea that terrorists hate and fear. the idea that all of us, men and women, black and white, asian and indian, no matter what the color of our skin, no matter if we are catholic or protestant, muslim or jew or you choose not to believe at all. the idea that each and every one of us is created free and equal. the idea that we will rise or fall based on our merit. the idea of a free press, free speech, due process of law, the
right to vote, or peacefully assemble and protest for or against this cause or that. the idea of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. all of that is what our fallen believed in and what they embodied. all of the values and principles embedded in our constitution and made real in our daily lives were paid for with the blood of the fallen on this place at 9:37 on september 11th, 2001. those ideas were and still are hated by our enemies, the fascists, nazis, communist, al qaeda, isis, taliban, authority
-- authoritarians dictators of all kinds. they hate those ideas, those values. and on 9/11 they tried to destroy us, and tried in vain to terrify us. but their murderous intent was never realized. instead of sowing fear we came together as a nation with acts of heroism, unity and perseverance, many conducted by you in the audience today. while we grieve for our fallen, we celebrate the life they led. their legacy lives on in the idea that is america. and no terrorist anywhere on earth can ever destroy that idea. since that dark day 20 years ago, the men and women of the united states military have fought tirelessly to defeat terrorists in afghanistan and around the world. both at home and abroad their talent and their efforts and their courage, their personal valor has carried this fight day and night.
we did not fear what was in front of us because we loved what was behind us. 800,000 of us in uniform served in afghanistan over the last 20 years. tens of thousands more have served elsewhere in the collective fight against terrorism. and thousands more stand watch today all around the world. 2,461 of us gave the last full measure of devotion, including 13 just two weeks ago. while 20,698 of us were wounded and untold thousands more suffer with the invisible wounds of war as we close this terrible chapter in our nation's history. for two consecutive decades, our men and women in uniform, along
with our brothers and sisters in the intelligence and lawmakers agencies, protected our nation from terrorist attack. for those of us in uniform, for our families who have suffered and sacrificed along our side, for those who have supported us, these have been incredibly emotional, exhausting, and trying years. we are all now, this very day, very conflicted with feelings of pain and anger, sorrow and sadness. combined with pride and resilience. but one thing i am certain of, for every soldier, sailor, airman and marine for every cia officer, fbi agent, every cop and fireman, you did your duty. your service matter. your sacrifice was not in vain. so let us resolve.
let us resolve here yet again today on this hallowed ground to never forget, to never forget those who were murdered by terrorists. never forget those who rushed to save their lives and gave theirs in exchange. never forget the sons and the daughters, the brothers and sisters, and the mothers and fathers, who gave their tomorrows for our todays. honor them. honor them today and forever. honor the cause they served. honor their commitment to this experiment in liberty that we call the united states of america. ladies and gentlemen, it's now my pleasure and deep honor to introduce secretary of defense of the united states of america, the honorable lloyd j. austin.
>> thank you. it is an honor to be here with you. and especially with the families and loved ones of those taken from us 20 years ago. and with the first responders who raced to help. and with our brothers and sisters in arms whose lives were changed forever on that day of fire. on behalf of the department of defense, let me renew our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all those lost on 9/11. including the 184 souls taken
from us in the attack on the pentagon, in the building and on flight 77. we know that you carry pain every day. we know that you bear your losses not just at times of ceremony, but also, in ordinary moments of absence. in quiet minutes that can seem to stretch on for hours. all of us are here because we remember. and i hope knowing that is at least some measure of comfort. just as we once worked alongside so many of them, we now mourn alongside all of you.
today of all days we gather their memory close. my thoughts turn to lieutenant general tim maddow, an outstanding leader. he was killed while serving as the army chief of staff for personnel. i still wish that we could turn to him for counsel. and i still remember his love for his soldiers, his army and his country. we know that the memories can be hard to bear. and we know that sorrow doesn't end. but over the years we hope that the good memories come to us more often and more easily. and today we remember not just who our fallen teammates were
but we remember the mission that they shared. and we recall their common commitment to defend our republic and to squarely face new dangers. as many of you know, the construction of the pentagon began on another september 11th back in 1941. as war raged overseas, workers with steam shovels began digging that morning into the virginia clay. historians say that it was a perfect late summer day. with a crystal clear blue sky and a hint of fall in the air. on that september 11th night, president franklin roosevelt gave a fireside chat about the
growing threat of nazi aggression. america's attention was turned inward and focused on a depression. but the president was sure that his fellow citizens whom he called hard headed and farsighted would meet the challenge of fascism. he said, the american people have faced other grave crises in their history. with american courage, with american resolution. they will do no less today. and the president added that his fellow citizens knew that times of testing call for clear heads and fearless hearts. clear heads and fearless hearts.
that's what our times demand again. and they demand that we remember that same september day 60 years later. and the ideals that brought our teammates to work on september 11th, 2001. now almost a quarter of the citizens who we defend today were born after 9/11. and that includes thousands of our outstanding young service members. many of the 13 brave men and women who just days ago gave their lives to save others in afghanistan were babies back in 2001. and as secretary of defense and a veteran of the afghan war, let me underscore again how much we
owe to all those who fought. and to all those who fell while serving our country in afghanistan. as the years march on we must ensure that all our fellow americans know and understand what happened here on 9/11. and in manhattan. and in shanksville, pennsylvania. it is our responsibility to remember and it is our duty to defend democracy. we cannot know what the next 20 years will bring. we cannot know what new dangers they will carry. we cannot foresee what churchill once called the originality of malice. but we do know that america will always lead. and we do know the only compass
that can guide us through the storms ahead. it is our core values and the principles enshrined in our constitution. liberty, rights, the rule of law. and the fierce commitment to a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. it is our job to defend the great experiment that is america. to protect this exceptional republic, body and soul. and to defend the american people and our democracy. even when it's hard. especially when it's hard. and, ladies and gentlemen, we must be tireless guardians of
our ideals as well as our security. because we cannot have one without the other. let me thank again the families of the loved ones and survivors for all that you have given and for the inspiration that you provide. the hallways that we tread were the ones that so many of them walked. it will always be our duty to fulfill their missions and to live up to their goodness and to stand guard over this democracy. we still work here. we still remember here. and we still uphold our values here. with clear heads and fearless hearts. thank you and may god protect
white with foam ♪ ♪ god bless america my home sweet home ♪ ♪ god bless america my home sweet home ♪♪ >> we invite you again to join me in prayer. >> oh holy god as we come to a conclusion of this observance of this day, remind us to build up what has been torn down, to repair what is broken, overcome hate with love, and be a true instrument of peace. through this and through you, oh god --
>> brian williams back with you just to record keep on some of what we have witnessed. our thanks to our guests. former chief of staff andy card to spend time on this day of all days with us. we just listened to general milley and the former general now secretary of defense and while it is notable to hear both of those men, both heavily deck rated veterans they're heavily
decorated veterans both recipients of the combat action badge because of the wars launched in the attacks we mark today. we dipped in briefly to a moment of silence here in new york at 9:59. that marked the collapse of the south tower of the world trade center and that staggering waste of humanity. we are coming up on 10:03 a.m., the next occasion we mark. no less tragic. the crash of flight 93 shanksville, pennsylvania. in about 50 seconds from now. the vice president has taken her place there. former president george w. bush. they are reading the names in shanksville so let's listen in before they go silent. [ bell tolling ]
[ bell tolling ] >> we are joined back here at our perch above ground zero by former secretary of homeland security jeh johnson. thank you for being with us. i guess we would like to begin with the meaning of this day. obviously, for you given the office you held and start with where you were on this morning 20 years ago. >> 20 years ago, this morning, which happens to be my birthday -- >> oh. >> i was in the law firm in midtown manhattan that i'm with today. i had been general counsel of the department of the air force during the last two years of cent on the administration. i came back home, back to the law firm and on this day and the weather was virtually identical.
>> virtually identical. >> i was sitting in my office. i heard someone say a small plane hitted the world trade center. i looked out the window. my office faced down 6th avenue at the towers and i saw virtually everything after that moment. the one moment i'll never forget was watching the first tower collapse because the twin towers had been such a permanent fixture on our landscape and this skyline and i kept wanting to believe that it was going to emerge from the dust but it never did. a massive structure was gone in an instant. it was the moment in my life when my brain did not believe what my eyes were showing me. and frankly, it was that day changed my lifer, the life of millions of americans and it was out of that day i wanted to rededicate myself to national
security. >> you eventually ran a department that, of course, did not exist by that name. >> correct. >> on that day 20 years ago. was born 13 days after 9/11. and you've watched our security concerns, the issues we track and follow and our threats morph somewhat unbelievably in the last two decades. >> brian, i used to tell my people at dhs and saw hundreds of them down here this morning, we have to plan for the next attack. not the last attack. and the threat picture continually evolves. you ask me today what are our homeland security threats. of course terrorism, except of a different nature. right wing violent extremism.
small scale attacks. but the overarching threats to our homeland in my judgment are climate change, global warming and the effects of severe weather events on aging infrastructure. there's aging infrastructure all around us here in lower manhattan. it is one of those threats that's a slow motion threat that like barack obama used to say. and it always seems to land second in the inbox. global warming, cyber security, the continued to evolve terrorist threat and in my judgment a polarization of our democracy. the polarization in the government ooitsz is a security threat. i worry if there's another 9/11 today our country would not be able to mobilize behind one national purpose like we did 20 years ago. and the best proof of that is reacting to covid.
>> right. i think about that all the time. people are still taking the shoes off at airports because of one threat of a foiled plot. people won't take a shot. would they throw away the $8 bottle of water and submit to invasive pat downs. >> it is against the law to drink and drive. requires to wear a helmet on a motorcycle not just to protect yourself but those around you. we have lived with those type of requirements now for generations. yet when it comes to taking a life saving vaccine and the proof is there. over 90% of the people in hospitals because of covid are unvaccinated. people seem not to understand it is for their protection, protection of their children, students, patients. it is profoundly disappointing.
>> you write in a great piece about a call you had as the attacks were happening. you got a call from the pentagon, from the e-ring to check on you. >> yes. >> you had to check on the person that called you. we were all checking on someone. will you talk about that call? >> yes. i had -- as i mentioned, i had worked at the pentagon eight months before and got a frantic call from fern who was my assistant mary. and are you okay? are you okay? i said, mary, i'm fine. this is in midtown. i'm in downtown. i glanced at a tv and saw smoke billowing from the e-ring of the pentagon where she worked. fortunately for her she was on the other side out e-ring and quickly scooped up friends and left but i was unable to reach her for hours.
and all kinds of calls like that. i remember i had to connect to my parents 70 miles north of here and talk to a friend in alabama who put us together on the phone because the phone leans were tied up that day. >> that i remember. the e-ring suffered its partial collapse at 10:15 a.m. there's the flag draped exterior of the e-ring for people that don't speak pentagon. there's concentric circumstance -- circles out from the court yard. >> that office on the fourth floor of that building is the office of the general counsel to the commandant of the marine corps. i know that person. his office was sliced in half. he almost died. he still works there. the plane fuselage came within a few feet of him and yet as you
know a number of people in the pentagon returned to work the very next day. >> yeah. the terrorists in this case hit a place that doesn't scare easily. it remained true to form. thank you. >> thank you. >> great to see you. >> thank you. >> former secretary of homeland security. let's continue to check back in with these three venues, these three scenes as we watch them unfold. doesn't get any easier. these are pictures from new york just down behind where we are. we also have the ceremony now broken up at the pentagon and in shanksville, pennsylvania. the two leading dignitaries there are the former president of the united states george w. bush and the current vice president of the united states kamala harris. it is now u.s. park service,
parkland. we recommend anyone in the area of shanksville to go see it. it's a striking sight just part of our remembrance today. i should also mention president biden has left ground zero. the site here in new york. motorcade, helicopter and now air force one and will be leaving for shanksville. he's going to be present at all three sites today. >> yeah. they announced that schedule just a few days ago i think. the president released a statement yesterday. not making remarks at the venues but i remember one of his earliest interviews after the attacks. he was a powerful -- a chairman of the senate foreign relations committee. a member of the senate foreign relations committee and lived this history in all three
locations probably with some of these families today. >> when you look at 43, today, through the lens of 20 years, what hits you? >> i have cried most of this morning. i had just stopped but you got crying again. what hits me is how moved i know he still is by what ordinary americans did in service of their friends and neighbors. and i mentioned earlier he carried around the badge given to him by arlene howard who lost her son that day. for as long as i knew him as president he was shaped by the grief of these families up now in some instances grandchildren who didn't meet grandfathers or
grandmothers that were lost that day so when i see him there i know how much he was stirred and moved. i know everything that happened during his presidency is extremely polarizing as a policy matter but as a human being i think he sought to protect the country he loved and led for those eight years. >> our friends andrea mitchell and hallie jackson are at the pentagon. it struck me listening to secretary austin, former general austin, and general milley that these are among our most heavily decorated veterans by dint of the fact they fought and sustained combat in one or both of the wars launched in the name of the attacks 20 years ago that we mark today. >> in fact, brian, general
austin was really part of the invasion of iraq and then of course at centcom running the operations in afghanistan. general milley, as well. as you heard from both of them today they were really speaking about september 11th and everything that's come since and honoring the families and the victims. the most recent victims the 13 marines and actually general austin just this week was in kuwait just this past week. he'd gone to doha and kuwait and met not only collectively with the 13 marines but individually and abandoned the schedule. spent time with them. the 13 marines and the marines that guarded the airport. those marines that are now in kuwait and lost 13 of their brothers and sisters. and there's obviously a great deal of trauma and suffering and
of course they're responding to the call of duty and what they did with that evacuation was remarkable as we all think of those left behind but the issue of security and how security changed in our country since 9/11. which is profoundly different. at this point, 9/11 we did have the department of homeland security. we are talking to jeh johnson. also general counsel in the pentagon of course in the first part of the obama years before he took over dhs and questions whether dhs is too big and whether immigration should be taken out of it but the lack of coordination, lack of information sharing that occurred on 9/11 is -- could not -- we believe, we hope be replicated today. one thing that struck me, on 9/11 the faa did not share the information that the first plane had been hijacked until
that plane had hit the world trade center. there was such a lack of coordination in the government that no one knew that a plane had been hijacked but the faa knew. that was the information that as the 9/11 commission reported stovepiped and now of course we hope it would be shared. we hope that we can imagine the security threats but still have al qaeda reforming as was said earlier you can talk about over the horizon but we don't have bases close by and don't have boots on the ground any lodger in afghanistan and isis-k. al qaeda part of the taliban that horrific haqqani network now in the cabinet so we have to be really concerned about the ground truth we can't get from drones that are dispatched from bases far away. >> we just watched president biden get on air force one for the next stop this morning.
you talked about how emotional it is and you feel that here. you talked about, too. we still work here. they worked here the day after. the pentagon opened the day after september 11th and it was a sign of resilience. and you have to remember this is an enormous building. this is a huge building and on september 11th talking to survivors, reading the accounts of people who were there and the memoir of then secretary rumsfeld you know -- some people didn't know what happened. it happened on the opinion sit side from where we are and closed for renovations. many offices were closed for renovation and estimates that twice as many people could be in the building that morning had that not be the case but people on different sides of the building who i spoke to a survivor trying to get
information about new york and couldn't because nothing was working. everybody overloading. he was on the phone with his wife when he heard the plane crash into the building. same with rumsfeld in his office who actually went to the site where it happened. he wrote about it. a piece of debris from the site. people did not know where the defense secretary actually was. >> president didn't know. >> the president didn't know. andy card was talking about that command. you talked about it, too. when president bush reauthorized the order to go after civilian aircraft in the sky and to highlight the confusion and the way that things were moving so quickly in the day cheney said to rumsfeld on a call i understand we have taken out a plane. rumsfeld said i cannot con firm that. to his knowledge that was not the case. >> they thought the plane in shanksville is a plane they had taken out. seeing the pictures of karen
hughes and rice and dick cheney in the bunker and the president wanting to go back but as andy card recounts the secret service saying you can't, going on to nebraska. we didn't have cell service. i was trying to call my parents. couldn't find where my husband was. he was over the atlantic and flying into dulles and they were turned back. they didn't have space in canada so i didn't hear from him until 2:59 in the afternoon. >> wow. >> when my cell phone rang finally. the old flip phone. ready to go on the air from our old bowl cam in the old network and he said what's happening? i said listen up. i left my phone in the lap. he could find out what happened. he was back in switzerland. brian, the communications and
the panic, we talked about it earlier, we don't know what was happening an ensaw the smoke coming out of the pentagon and that was just so terrifying. >> the coms from the pentagon were not good. secretary rumsfeld talked about written about trying to be in touch with the president on air force one. not great and patched the call through and sounded terrible to be the most important thing and why rumsfeld didn't want to leave the building because he knew he needed to have the coms. they had somebody part of leadership off site but the national military command center at the pentagon filling with snoek. the air quality so awful with carbon dioxide in the air. this is the conditions they were working here and many people in that building who are still here today who are struggling frankly with things like survivor's
guilt. split second decisions, a moment to go see a colleague or to go down the hall changed the course of their lives forever and that is a moment today. 20 years later, everybody reflects on it but so important. >> a surviving family, don marshal, talking about trying to get to his wife in the pentagon and seeing the smoke and the fire. firemen couldn't get in. he realized he couldn't and had a child in day care in the pentagon and needed to be a father and not have another -- have another child orphaned by this disaster. >> the day that changed all of us 20 years ago. andrea mitchell, hallie jackson on duty at the pentagon today, thank you. so discordant to hear jet aircraft, given the location along national airport, it is
understandable but on this day of all days. we are joined by good friend of ours, the presidential historian and author michael beschloss. i have an odd question to begin with and it may require more time, thought and attention than we have here but tell me, is it a dotted line, is it a red line? how did we get from this event we mark today, this hole in the earth, the worst tragedy in modern american history certainly, to our current times, to the site of nazi protesters on the campus of the university that jefferson founded to the side of our own citizens trying to change the course of a presidential election and ransacking our capitol? >> absolutely, brian. i'll try to do it fast.
it's been 20 years that have been in many ways extremely rough. two wars in afghanistan and iraq that were american support among the people for those wars ebbed and the presidents involved were never able to quite explain why we were there and risking american lives and risking american treasure. we felt after 9/11 that our government could not protect us from something we had been protected from all during word war 2 and the cold war. never a direct major attack opinion american territory. this took us back to the sense of insecurity that americans had in 1814 when the british came to washington and burned the capitol and the white house. but the overwhelming thing that almost makes me cry and i kmpbly don't want to long for the world just before 9/11, but that was a world where americans reacted to the tragedies that we're
remembering this day and this heroism with unity. just like after pearl harbor. 1940 as you know, americans were divided down the middle. do we fight hitler not? it was a bitter political division but then americans united and almost every american said we have to get involved in world war ii to make the world safe for freedom and safe for american democracy. that's what happened after 9/11 even though we were in the wake of a bitter political division over the contested election between gore and george w. bush. if that happened today 2021 would we see a scene that we saw in 2001 which is in the wake of 9/11 al gore who had lost the presidency by a supreme court order many around him felt it
was stolen but gave a speech in the wake of 9/11 saying george w. bush is my president and i support him. would donald trump do the same if god forbid there were another 9/11 today? >> michael beschloss, what do you think is owed to the people standing behind us reading names in the instances of some of the children that have spoken of relatives they never got to meet? >> horrible. especially someone referring to one of the woman who was killed and her unborn child. that's what sort of unraveled me and i remember my kids were 7 and 5 that day were older boy alex wanted to watch tv and i yanked the television cords out of the wall so he couldn't see it. i said i did that so you wouldn't be traumatized. didn't you know i went over to a
friend and saw the whole thing on tv? didn't quite work. but it is a day you think about your children. in the american tradition, the best thing we can do is recall the best of 9/11 and that is i think two things. number one, the heroism of the people on those planes that saved them from crashing into the white house or the capitol or somewhere else. they really saved the symbols of the democracy and american democracy itself. and the fact that in the wake of this tragedy everyone came together, may that happen again. >> michael, that is the bell to mark the moment of silence that in turn marks the collapse of the north tower. first to be struck, second to have fallen that morning. 102 minutes after the first plane struck.
life never got me low ♪ ♪ tears never broke me down inside i always know ♪ ♪ i'd be by your side so i never would be alone ♪ ♪ but all that is different right now ♪ ♪ and everything solid but the ground ♪ ♪ you'll never be alone you'll never be alone ♪ ♪ if you fall i'll catch you i won't ever let you be alone ♪ ♪ i never want you to to feel uncertainty ♪ ♪ i listen to every word
believe every single dream ♪ ♪ the world has a funny way of making you feel like you're alone ♪ ♪ and when trials and troubles come ♪ ♪ loved one you know that your welfare is my concern ♪ ♪ if i'm far away you know that i'll find my way back to your side ♪♪ ♪ when the tide starts to roll and wind starts to blow ♪ ♪ when the thing you're afraid of is invisible ♪ ♪ you'll never be alone ♪ ♪ you'll never be alone ♪ ♪ if you fall i'll catch you
i won't never let you be alone ♪ ♪ if you fall i'll catch you ♪ ♪ i won't ever let you be alone ♪♪ ♪ no you'll never be alone ♪♪ [ applause ] >> thank you. >> from ground zero in new york over to shanksville, pennsylvania. we're going to hear from the head of the organization of families of flight 93 prior to hearing from vice president kamala harris.
>> captain curtis, ambassador kibben, steve, superintendent clark, distinguished guests, families, friends, ambassadors, and all that joins us today near or far i almost you to the 20th remembrance ceremony here at the flight 93 national memorial. to the men and women that serve aboard the "uss somerset" here today and all of those active duty members and veterans near and far you honor us with your presence and we must never forget that there are thousands of your brethren gravely injured or lost their lives or as a result of their service during these past 20 years.
their loss reminds us that september 11th was not a singular event. but a date that marked a cultural paradigm shift in our country and for freedom-loving people across the globe. to the families of flight 93 here and at home, honoring a loved one, my heart goes out to you. having lost a brother on september 11th, i, too, live with the grief that is deep, consuming and always present. for those that lost loved ones in the terrorist attacks on our country 20 years ago today, you know that we can never move on but that we must continue to move forward. on september 11th, 2001, we lost a total of 2,977 innocent souls and that morning more than 6,000
people were injured in the attack on our country. 2,606 died in the world trade center. 125 at the pentagon. and 246 innocent people were murdered on the four hijacked planes. 40 of which were on flight 93. brought down here in a field just outside of shanksville, pennsylvania. as our heroes fought to overcome the evil brought to our shores that morning, to date an additional 2,000 first responders that took part in the immediate rescue and continued recovery efforts have died from related illnesses and with every month we continue to lose more. the ripple effect of september 11th is unfathomable. there are still many questions to be answered about the day. facts to be declassified.
and released. and justice to be served. so much of september 11th involved pain, loss and terror. our lives were never to be the same. and yet from the ashes of the day stories of heroism and extraordinary courage emerged providing hope to a world adrift in fear and confusion. first responders running into burning buildings with little regard for their own safety while citizens inside the buildings refused to run from danger so that they could offer assistance and comfort to those less able. surely knowing that their decision would cost them all but their honor. and here in the skies over southwestern pennsylvania, a group of 40 individuals mostly strangers when becoming aware of
what was taking place on the ground that morning found the courage to band together in a moment's notice. without regard for political, religious, professional or cultural differences. our 40 under extreme conditions were able to change the course of history, averting the potential of our final image that fateful day being the capitol dome collapsed and on fire. the greatest symbol of our democracy in ruins. as the personification of that symbol our heroes embraced the tenets of democracy that no expression of terrorism will ever extinguish. e pluribus enum. out of many, one. our heroes united. they formulated a plan when confronted by a great evil.
they prayed. they voted. on a course of action and then they struck. though in the process they lost their lives there is no question that they won the first battle in this current war on terrorism. 35 minutes, 9:28 to 10:03 a.m., from the initial terrorist attack on flight 93 in the the plane came down on our sacred ground, a lifetime. a moment. forever. yesterday. here on the ground first responders aware of what was taking place in new york, at the pentagon, and in the midst of fear anden certainty reacted to the horror brought to their rural community in a way that's
forever altered their lives. these proud and men of somerset county demonstrated everything that's awesome about the united states of america. terrorism met rural america. proud, strong, determined. the relationship our families and our nation has forged with this local community is extraordinary. to our extended family here in the somerset county region, you will forever have our complete gratitude. you have embraced us and the story of our loved ones in a selfless, fiercely protective fashion even as you continue to move forward carrying the pain and anguish thrust upon your community 20 years ago.
recently i was listening to former congressman gaudy discussing the ultimate sacrifice. during the remarks i was struck by a common theme i did not recall highlighted in prior years, a theme i felt strongly consistent with the story of the heroes of flight 93 and all those we lost on september 11th. i experienced a moment of clarity that brought my understanding of heroism and of sacrifice to an uncomfortable reality. moving me to question who we are as a society. what struck such a nerve was not the annual reminder to honor and remember the thousands of lives ripped from the embrace of their families including the 40 heroes of flight 93. but rather, the question to be considered is, are we worthy of
their sacrifice? are we worthy? do we as individuals, communities and as a country conduct ourselves in a manner that would make those that sacrificed so much and fought so hard on september 11th proud of who we have become? do we share the same willingness to sacrifice for others in little ones as well as large? to act when necessary for no other reason than to accomplish a noble goal? egoless and with no other motivation than to do what is right. do we cherish the hard-earned freedoms that we enjoy, secured every generation by those willing to stand toe to toe with anyone or any country willing to steal them away. the real question that we must
all ask ourselves is, have we as a society moved on and left the hard-learned lessons of september 11th behind? have we become desensitized to really what happened that fateful morning? have we diminished the courageous actions of these heroes we honor today at the flight 93 national memorial as well as those in new york city and the pentagon by relegating their stories to the history books? as a country, we shouldn't seek to move on. but rather, let us dedicate ourselves to moving forward, honoring and remembering the sacrifices made on september 11th, the lessons we learned, remembering the names, the individuals and the collective actions of so many that day.
let us be worry think of the selfless sacrifices that were made. let us remember who we became on september 12th. in the aftermath of september 11th we saw beyond our differences so that in unity we could survive the devastation of the day. e pluribus enum. out of many, we became one. that is the inspi ration of september 11th. whether it was in the air, or on the ground that morning, heroism was revealed. history was made. and the course of our lives were changed forever. the path we follow is up to us. let us strive to be worthy of those we lost that morning. our 40 heroes.
our loved ones. and the thousands of other innocent lives extinguished that day and in the aftermath of september 11th. e pluribus enum. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you, gordie. enduring moment in the days after september 11 occurred when president george w. bush used a bull horn to speak to firefighters at ground zero in new york. his words provided sorely needed encouragement to a grieving
country. a common thread of heroism running through each of the three attack sites on september 11th was the devotion to duty shown by our first responders. they made the nation proud then and they continue to do that now. thank you to all of our first responders across these great united states for we are truly grateful for our service. [ applause ] >> i'm greatly honored now to present our next speaker, the 43rd of the united states of america, george w. bush. [ applause ]
>> thank you, ladies and gentlemen. accompanying him today is first lady laura bush who occupies a special place in the hearts and families of flight 93 for on september 17th mrs. bush traveled here to offer her condolences and to those of america to the families and passengers of flight 93. president bush is fondly remembered by everyone involved in the effort to commemorate the heroes of flight 93 for signing the act that created this national memorial on september 24th, 2002. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the 43rd president of the united states, george w. bush. [ applause ] >> thank you. thank you all.
thank you very much. laura and i are honored to be with you. madame vice president, vice president cheney, governor wolff, secretary holland and distinguished guests, 20 years ago we all found in different ways in different places but all at the same moment that our lives would be changed forever. the world was loud with carnage and sirens. and then quiet with missing voices that would never be heard again. these lives remain precious to our country and infinitely precious to many of you. today we remember your loss, we share your sorrow and we honor
the men and women you have loved so long and so well. for those too young to recall that clear september day, it is hard to describe the mix of feelings we experienced. there was horror at the scale of destruction and awe at the bravery and kindness that rose to meet it. there was shock at the audacity of evil and gratitude for the heroism and decency that opposed it. in the sacrifice of the first responders and the mutual aid of strangers, in the solidarity of grief and grace, the actions of an enemy revealed the spirit of a people and we were proud of our wounded nation. in these memories the passengers and crew of flight 93 must always have an honored place.
here the intended targets became the instruments of rescue and many who are now alive owe a vast, unconscious debt to the defiance displayed in the skies above this field. it would be a mistake to idolize the experience of those terrible events. all that many people could initially see was the brute randomness death, all that many could feel was is unearned suffering, all that many could hear was god's terrible silence. there are many who still struggle with a lonely pain that cuts deep within. and those fateful hours we learned other lessons, as well. we saw that americans were vulnerable but not fragile. that they possess a core of strength that survives the worst
that life can bring. we learned that bravery is more common than we imagined. emerging with sudden splendsplef faith. we loved ones was a temporary and holy gift and we found that even the longest days end. many of us have tried to make spiritual sense of these events. there is no simple explanation for the mix of providence and human will that sets the direction of our lives, but comfort can come from a different sort of knowledge. after wandering long and lost in the dark, many have found they were actually walking step by step toward grace. as a nation, our adjustments have been profound. many americans struggled to understand why an enemy would
hate us with such zealt. security measures incorporated into our lives are both sources of comfort and reminders of our vulnerability, and we have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within. there is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home, but then there's disdainful pluralism and disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit and it is our continuing duty to confront them. after 9/11, millions of brave americans stepped forward and volunteered to serve in the armed forces. the military measures taken over the last 20 years to pursue
dangers at their source have led to debate. but one thing is certain, we owe an assurance to all who have fought our nation's most recent battles. let me speak directly to veterans and people in uniform. the cause you pursued at the call of duty is the noblest america has to offer. you have shielded your fellow citizens from danger, you have defended the beliefs of your country and advanced the rights of the downtrodden. you have been the face of hope and mercy in dark places. you have been a force for good in the world. nothing that has followed, nothing, can tarnish your honor or diminish your accomplishments. to you and our honored dead, our country is forever grateful. [ applause ]
>> in the weeks and months following the 9/11 attacks i was proud to lead an amazing resilient united people. when it comes to the unity of america, those days seem distant from our own. maligned forces seem at work in our common life that turns every disagreement into an argument and every argument into a clash of cultures. so much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear and resentment. that leaves us worried about our nation and our future together. i come without explanations or solutions. i can only tell you what i've seen. on america's day of trial and grief, i saw millions of people instinctively grab for a neighbor's hand and rally to the cause of one another.
that is the america i know. [ applause ] at a time when religious bigotry might have flowed freely, i saw americans reject prejudice and embrace people of muslim faith. that is the nation i know. [ applause ] at a time when nativism could have stirred hatred and violence against people perceived as outsiders, i saw americans reaffirm their welcomeness to immigrants and refugees. that is the nation i know [ applause ] >> at a time when some viewed the rising generation as individualistic and decadent, i saw young people embrace an ethic of service and rise to selfless action. that is the nation i know.
[ applause ] this is not mere nostalgia. it is the truest version of ourselves. it is what we have been and what we can be again. 20 years ago terrorists chose a random group of americans on a routine flight to be collateral damage in a spectacular act of terror. the 33 passengers and seven crew of flight 93 could have been any group of citizens selected by fate. in a sense, they stood in for us all. the terrorists soon discovered that a random group of americans is an exceptional group of people. facing an impossible circumstance, they comforted their loved ones by phone, braced each other for action, and defeated the designs of
evil. these americans were brave, strong and united in ways that shocked the terrorists, but should not surprise any of us. this is the nation we know. [ applause ] and whenever we need hope and inspiration, we can look to the skies and remember. god bless. [ applause ] >> thank you, mr. president, for those beautiful words. president and mrs. bush have
visited here several times and we are delighted, of course, to have them here today now that the memorial has been completed. the design for this memorial which so beautifully frames this site is the work of paul murdock architects. a deeply felt thank you who are with us here today and to their entire team for envisioning the memorial that has literally sculpted the landscape in an unforgettable manner and which will be visited by millions of people for generations to come. once again, thank you. >> nicolle wallace, we have heard from your former boss in a speech that i think will bear a second reading. >> yeah, i think that was the nation i know speech. i think it was important for them to acknowledge that the decisions that he made will be
debated. he understands that better than anybody. anyone who thinks he doesn't would be mistaken. i think he also rebuked the nativism in which this country is still experiencing spasms. he talked about extremism, he talked about the america he knows being one that reached out to immigrants and rejected nativism and rejected prejudice, and i think those are important words for everyone to hear and for anyone to say on a day like today. >> take on, if you care to, if you dare, the question i asked before, explain to me -- and you've had this unique career, having worked for 43, but also these last couple of years could not have a more front row seat in what we've become, working for cable news. how did we get from this?
>> i think a lot of people believe that the wars that this country entered into were mistaken. that isn't the president's view. i interviewed condoleeza rice, that isn't her view. and i think another thing the president just said is for the men and women who have served, make no mistake, you have kept us safe at home. i pursued a strategy of dealing with threats where they gather. president obama continued many of those policies. it's unclear what president trump wanted to do. this president ended the war in afghanistan. so i think it's foolish to ignore the toll that has taken on the country's psyche, to our resources, that as a path after this trauma maybe it was incomplete. but i think it was a huge part of it. you would have to be blind not to acknowledge that. i think what he was talking about, the forces of nativism
and isolationism, you have to add racism, and i think that modern republican parties have always had to keep a boot on the forces of racism. and i think that he sought to -- i think those forces flourished under donald trump, who was the next republican president after george w. bush. i think when you see the ugly intersection of racism and isolationism and nativism, that's how we live in a country now where the greatest risk of anything like that happening again, as you say, comes from within. >> are we numb, or does it in fact shock you that the past, the immediate past president is not a part of any of this today? >> i would give anything to learn how to become numb to all that i feel about our politics and all that i feel about the office of the presidency and all that i feel just sitting here makes me cry. but i think that the last
occupant of the oval office not being here is probably a good thing, regardless of where you sit on the idealogical spectrum, because it's never about anybody else. and this can't be a day about any politician. >> and as i said, keeping on brand, he's calling a fight tonight. >> yeah, yeah. and i don't know what the people in that world think of that. i think we have to remember that there are a lot of places where his presence is welcome. i hope that's one of them. i don't know enough about that world. i think, you know, you just look at the humanity we've been witness to today and to lose your son and form, you know, an organization with resilience in its name to bring together people who can help you navigate ptsd, to hear from firefighters who rushed down to this
horrible, horrible crime scene, the site of a terrorist attack, knowing that very soon after they got there it really wasn't a rescue mission at all. to see presidents obama and president clinton and president biden try to hold this city and this site up with their presence, and then to see the vice president is going to speak in a moment here, and former first lady mrs. bush and george w. bush. i mean, this is who we are. we're a country who suffered this incredible, incredible injury. and i'm not sure we've ever really processed it properly, but i think that we are where we are in our politics because the good that came of that day is very rarely in focus, other than on its anniversary, and the bad we were sort of left to our own devices to process that and react to that. and i think the truist thread to
follow is this pension to blame someone. i think that's what george w. bush is getting at with this sort of reflex for nativism and to say that we resisted after 9/11, but we're hostage to it now, isn't an overstatement and really probably is one of the great tragedies. >> will 43's words today get traction? will they be heard? >> i think a lot of our viewers at our network to be blunt, are pretty skeptical of what he has to say because of their feelings about the two wars in iraq and afghanistan. i think a lot of republican voters are attracted to the last occupant of the oval office. but i do think george w. bush speaks to a middle that maybe doesn't always have a voice and a presence and a candidate in every fight. but i do think there's resonance with his view on history and his view on this day. >> i am told the vice president of the united states is starting. >> madam secretary and the president of the families of flight 93, gordon felt.
it is truly an honor to be with all of you at this field of honor. we are joined today, of course, by the family and friends of the 40 passengers and crew members of flight 93 and we stand today with all of those who lost someone on september 11th, 2001, and in the aftermath of the attacks. so many in our nation, too many in our nation, have deeply felt the passage of time these last 20 years. every birthday a loved one missed. every holiday. every time her favorite team won or his favorite song came on the radio. every time you've tucked in your children or dropped them off at college. you have felt every day, every week, and every year that has
passed these 20 years. so please know your nation sees you and we stand with you and we support you. we are gathered today on hollowed ground at this place that has been sanctified by sacrifice, to honor the heroism the passengers and crew members showed in the face of grave terrorism. i remember when i first learned about what happened on that fateful flight, what happened on flight 93 told us then and it still tells us so much about the courage of those on board who gave everything they possibly could. about the resolve of the first responders who risked
everything. and about the resilience of the american people. on this 20th anniversary, on this solemn day of remembrance, we must challenge ourselves, yes, to look back, to remember, for the sake of our children, for the sake of their children, and for that reason we must also look forward. we must also look toward the future. because in the end, i do believe that is what the 40 were fighting for. their future and ours. on the days that followed september 11th, 2001, we were all reminded that unity is possible in america. we were reminded, also, that
unity is imperative in america. it is essential to our shared prosperity, to our national security, and to our standing in the world. and by unity, i don't mean uniformity. we had differences of opinion in 2001, as we do in 2021. and i believe that in america our diversity is our strength. at the same time, we saw after 9/11 how fear can be used to sow division in our nation. muslims were targeted because of how they looked or how they worshipped, but we also saw what happens when so many americans in the spirit of our nation
stand in solidarity, with all people and their fellow americans, with those who experience violence and discrimination, when we stand together. and looking back, we remember the vast majority of americans were unified in purpose, to help families heal, to help communities recover, to defend our nation and to keep us safe. in a time of outright terror, we turned toward each other. in the face of a stranger, we saw a neighbor and a friend. that time reminded us the significance and the strength of our unity as americans and that it is possible in america.
so moments from now we will leave this hollowed place, still carrying with us the pain of this loss, this tremendous loss, and still the future will continue to unfold. we will face new challenges. challenges that we could not have seen 20 years ago. we will seize opportunities that were at one time unimaginable. and we know that what lies ahead is not certain, it is never certain, it has never been. but i know this, if we do the hard work of working together as americans, if we remain united
in purpose, we will be prepared for whatever comes next. the 40 passengers and crew members of flight 93, as we all know, they didn't know each other. most of them didn't know each other. they were different people from different places, they were on that particular flight for different reasons. but they did not focus on what may separate us. no, they focused on what we all share, on the humanity we all share. in a matter of minutes in the most dire of circumstances, the 40 responded as one. they fought for their own lives and to save the lives of countless others at our nation's
capital. after today, it is my hope and prayer that we continue to honor their courage, their conviction, with our own, that we honor their unity by strengthening our common bonds, by strengthening our global partnerships, and by always living out our highest ideals. this work will not be easy, it never has been. and it will take all of us believing in who we are as a nation, and it will take all of us going forth to work together. thank you all. may god bless you and may god bless america. thank you. [ applause ]
>> thank you, again, madam vice president. >> shanksville, pennsylvania, has now heard from the former president of the united states, george w. bush, and from vice president kamala harris, trying to soothe 20 years of hurt at that beautiful memorial. >> yeah, you know what is so amazing is both these speeches, a figure from our past, obviously president george w. bush, and a figure from our present and future, vice president kamala harris, got at the same thing, our ache for unity. and i thought the vice president made a really important point. she said unity isn't uniformity. it's not that we all agree on
all of the ways to get from here to there, but it's unity of purpose. and i think that, you know, president george w. bush, using this day to rebuke extremism, domestic extremism, obviously this white house dealing with the greatest threat to the homeland being that domestic violent extremism threat, goosed by the ex-president, is an important moment for the entire country. >> we were just watching pictures of dick cheney and there he is in the hat. let's see if we can go back to that. there he is in the center of the picture. more complicated question to ask you is, where does he land in modern american history if that history were to be written on this day? >> i'm thinking of his daughter as you're asking me that. his daughter, liz cheney, has carved out such a relevant rule for herself as the truth-teller
in the house republican caucus led by none other than kevin, i'm going to harass and threaten and be a menace to america's telecom companies to avoid them from getting any phone records around the latest attack. i mean, there's nothing i think i or anyone could say to change anyone's well-formed views of vice president cheney, but i think his daughter is still carving out her space in this battle with extremism and this threat to the american homeland. and i think she becomes a pretty important figure in what the next chapter of fight extremist threats are going to look like. >> cheney's history is much more complex and i'm quite certain at this point in his career, he would be happy if his daughter liz was his legacy.
>> the country has changed, though, and i think that these rebukes of the dark forces on a day like today are important and they have their place. i'm still sort of shaken, though, by the tributes to the people that were lost. i have in front of me the president's speech. george w. bush said the passengers and crew of flight 93 must always have an honored place. the intended targets became the instruments of rescue. what an amazing way to think of it. intended targets. they were supposed to be the victims of this terrorist attack and they likely rescued other targets in washington, d.c. from a terrorist attack. >> we dwelled on at the time the perverse economy of the attack. 19 people, with the most basic of weapons, in addition as it turns out, the most basic of
flight training, to bring this mighty country to its knees, however briefly, to leave a gaping hole in the earth here and scar us forever. >> forever. and i think the first part of getting back to something that the vice president is talking about, some unity of purpose and some instances, is a useful tribute to those who are not here anymore. it is a useful exercise. but i think mark milley said this, the people we lost that day aren't just names or numbers. we remember them today not only for who they were but for what they would have become. they were irreplaceable to their families, woven into the fabric of their communities, full of life and potential. there's nothing we can say. there is no honoring the people who just went to the office or just got on an airplane and never came home.
>> right. new york city firefighter heading in to save people, it turns out, were not saveable. we have a special guest standing by for us, retired u.s. army colonel wills was in a conference room at the pentagon when american airlines flight 77 crashed into the building's west side. it launched her from her chair to the other side of the table. the room went dark. smoke filled the air. colonel wells led a small group to a window, one civilian clinging onto her belt. lieutenant colonel wells was awarded the soldier's medal for heroism, as well as a purple heart for injuries sustained during the attack. we are fortunate to have her joining us now, alongside her daughter, priscilla, and her
husband kirk. where do your memories go on a day like today? where do your thoughts go on a day like today? >> today my thoughts go with all of the family and friends that i lost on september 11th. i think about them and the children that they had and what they could have become. of course, i also go to those who have survived and have to live with this every single year. so, yeah, that's what i think about. >> like so many of the people who were victims of that day, the only thing you did wrong was go to work, a, on time, and, b, i'm guessing earlier than you were supposed to be there. how often do you recall your first moment of awareness that you were in the middle of an attack, that it wasn't a gas
line, it wasn't an electrical explosion, it wasn't any of those things? >> you know, you're absolutely right, it was none of those. but that was my initial thought, because we had moved to a new area in the pentagon, so my initial thought was something had gone wrong with the construction, not knowing what had happened in new york. that was the first thought that i could come up with. >> colonel wells, what does your daughter know about your day that day, and how do you think we should talk to our kids about september 11th? >> you know, my daughter who is with me today, she was 7 years old, in the second grade. and we must continue to talk about what happened on september 11th. i also taught third grade and none of those children were born. i taught at trinity university. none of those children were born. so it is important that we keep
this memory alive to share with our children what happened on that tragic day and how we have now overcome that day. >> the vice president, the former president gave remarks in shanksville, really sounding notes of unity, that it isn't uniformity, it doesn't mean we agree on everything, but this idea of unity of purpose. do you think we can get back to that? >> you know, i absolutely think we can get back. if we were to think back 20 years ago, our country was in a place that we don't want to remember, but on september 11th that brought unity to this country like we've never seen before. i always like to share how my parents drove from louisiana to washington, d.c., not paying for anything because they told the american people that they were coming to washington to see their daughter who was in the pentagon. and we can absolutely get back to that. unity is the word that i want to
share. >> colonel, talk about how the two wars that were launched in the name of these attacks went on to affect your life, your friends, your family. colonel, are you still able to hear me? >> can you hear us? >> we have lost communications with the colonel. we will try to reestablish, and obviously the scene we're watching now is the vice president going down the line to read the names of the passengers on flight 93. we've had books written, hollywood depictions of what happened on that flight, all of it kind of stitched together
between the actual evidence we have, the few reported telephone calls from the passengers on the plane, the contemporaneous knowledge that family and friends had, what was going on, things like the faa, radio communications. but in the end, we know what's important to know, as nicolle said earlier, a democratic vote onboard a hurdling jet aircraft. >> and to think that passengers -- when you think about getting on an airplane, you don't know anyone sitting around you. so they got on that flight, not too far into the flight they became aware of what was happening. they held a vote and decided to spare other people of whatever fate had transpired in new york. and these days we can't get people on the airplanes to always wear a mask and be polite
to flight attendants. these passengers were of a different constitution. >> are you ever struck by the thought that on the 40th, 50th anniversary we will look back, perhaps, at some of these pictures and be reminded, oh, yeah, that's when we were all wearing masks, that's when even our presidents and former presidents had to wear masks in public because of our uncontrolled pandemic in 2021? >> well, i think there are so many parallels to how much more difficult it is to do any of the things that anyone who has spoken today has done, to call the country to a higher purpose. you've got politicians and prominent folks in the media outraged by steps that a president, not too many presidents after the one we heard from today, would try to save his country from an unthinkable death toll.
as many people die every two days as died on september 11th in this country who don't have to die. >> every two days. >> anyone in this country over 12 could be vaccinated and people who are vaccinated are not the ones tragically packing icus in this country. >> the vice president now walking in the field in shanksville and remember the mystery surrounding that flight, when it went down, the radar screens went blank, the airline, the faa, the white house staff knew that there was another plane unaccounted for. by the way, we're coming up on the time, just after 12:00 noon on september 11th when, unbelievably, the skies were clear, the skies were clear of the 5,000 aircraft in u.s. airspace. we will never be able to repay
the government and the people of canada the debt we owe them for how many flights and how many souls they took in. i was reminiscing with nicolle earlier, and andy card, about the fact that the 41 bushes, george h.w. and barbara, now both gone, found themselves watching the coverage on the edge of a bed in the motel room, in i believe wisconsin. his son was the sitting president of the united states. it didn't much matter that he was a former president. his aircraft was grounded like everybody else. >> no planes in the sky, i remember when the president went to the airlines and tried to get people flying again. one of the things american people were asked to do was to fly again, to shop again, to go out, to not be afraid. and that was a big deal, getting
airplanes back in the air. we've talked so much today about the uncertainty about how this plane came down, about the unimaginable authority given to the vice president by the president to shoot down a passenger jet if it was deemed a threat to the white house and the capitol. after my show yesterday, i had a couple minutes to speak to condoleeza rice, who was not traveling with the president. now it's unimaginable that a national security adviser wouldn't travel with the president. but before 9/11, a domestic trip, which is what the trip to the school was, she was not with the president. she reminded me that her deputy wasn't either. should we play some of that conversation? >> sure, i've been waiting for the ability to see this interview. this is nicolle wallace with condoleeza rice. >> do you mind going through your day on september 11th? you normally traveled with president bush, but at this day
you were at the white house and you ended up, and just take us through your day on september 11th, 2001. >> it really is evidence of our pre-9/11 thinking that i wasn't with president bush and steve hadley, the deputy was not with him, because it was a domestic trip. that's how we thought of it. so i got to my office and i was actually going to give a speech later in the day, so i was sort of looking at that. all of a sudden my young assistant said a plane had hit the world trade center, and i thought that's a strange accident. and i called president bush, who was in florida for the education event, and he said the same thing. but then a few minutes later as i had gone downstairs for my staff meeting, someone handed me a note and said a second plane had hit the world trade center and now i knew it was a terrorist attack. i went into the situation room to try to call the national security principals, secretary of state powell was in peru for a meeting of the organization of
american states. he was trying to get back. george tenant had gone, the cia director had gone to a bunker already at langley, and they said we can't reach secretary rumsfeld. his phone is just ringing and ringing. and we looked on television and a plane had hit the pentagon. and about that time, the secret service came and they kind of collected me and said, we've got to get you to a bunker. planes are flying into buildings all over washington, d.c., the white house has got to be next. i took one brief moment to let my family know that i was all right. you know have to know the rices, they would have made their way to washington. but then i talked to the president and did something, i raised my voice to him, because he said i'm coming back. and i said, you can't, the united states is under attack, it's not safe here. and then the rest of the day was trying to deal with the consequences. i saw the vice president getting an order from the president that the air force should shoot down any plane that was not responding properly, and i
remember thinking, even at the time, that that choice, you were saying shoot down civilian aircraft because every plane has become a missile. when that plane went down in pennsylvania, we actually thought for a terrible few minutes that we might have shot it down. and then, talking to president putin, there is always a fear when our forces go up on alert, as they were going to, obviously, that the russians would respond. and pretty soon everybody would be alerting their forces and it would become dangerous. so i got on the phone with him, i said, mr. president, our forces are going up on alert. he said ours are coming down. we're canceling our exercises. and i thought for one minute, the cold war really is over. and then getting a message out to every post in the world that the united states of america had not been decapitated, because at that moment you do not want your foes or your friends to think that you are not functioning. and so that's how the day went,
until finally the president arrived and we got ready for his address to the nation. >> that was not preordained, right? he demanded that he come back? >> he did. >> talk about that. >> he did. well, i talked to him several more times and he kept saying, i'm coming back, and i kept saying, you can't. and then, finally, in a conversation with karen hughes, he just refused that he was going to stay in nebraska. he was at one of our military installations. and at that point i knew it was useless to try to talk him out of it. he was coming back. he came back, he landed on the south lawn where the helicopter and marine one lands. he first asked to see mrs. bush, which he did for a moment, and then he said he was going to address the nation, but it was just to be a speech about reassurance, that the nation was shaken, this was not a policy speech, and it was a very short
speech. but the one line that we did put in the speech at his direction, was if you harbor a terrorist, we will treat you as a terrorist. that became known as the bush doctrine. and he decided that was something he had to say that night. >> i know you're far away from washington, but there's no such thing as a bubble anymore. how do you feel when you read the harsh recriminations for policies such as the one you just described, the bush doctrine, 20 years later? >> i just say to people, if on september 12th you had told me or anybody else that we weren't going to have another major attack on american territory, i wouldn't have taken that bet. and we didn't. and it wasn't by accident and it wasn't just the bush administration, although i think we created most of the apparatus
that has helped keep us safe, the homeland security department, the national counterterrorism center that can merge intelligence from the outside and the inside. one of the problems that we had was the fbi did internal intelligence and the cia did external intelligence. we didn't marry them together. the work that we did in afghanistan with our afghan allies, to deny al qaeda that sanctuary where they could plot and plan. and so i think the result was one that i'm very grateful for. i don't even say proud of. i'm just grateful that we kept the peace and subsequent administrations have that apparatus and have used it. i will say that those who say that we were overreaching to try to help afghanistan become more democratic and more stable, first of all, it was the only way to honor the fallen, that
the united states of america would stick with its values, that democracy is universal, that everybody should have a chance, that women in afghanistan should be able to go to school, girls should go to school. infant mortality went down, maternal mortality went down, and, by the way, in the bargain that we made with the afghan people that we would try to make their lives better, we remembered that failed states are the cesspool in which terrorists breed. so we actually were in our own self-interest trying to make afghanistan more stable and it didn't end that way. the taliban is now back in control. i don't believe it had to be that way. i think we lost patience and we lost will. we had had enough patience to stay in korea for 70 years with
28,000 american forces in what is basically a stalemate. we didn't win that war either, but we prevented the south korean government from being overrun by crazy men from the north. i think we might have been able to do the same in afghanistan. not every war can be won. they don't certainly have to be lost. >> secretary condoleeza rice, we're grateful to you for spending some time with us today. be well. >> thank you. >> fascinating conversation. the korea example was used by a few people after our withdrawal, and it turns out that we had, what, 2,500, 2,700 americans there. they way over-indexed in terms of their meaning, their value as a symbol, america is here. >> look, to secretary rice's great credit, a lot of the conversation around the end of
the war was lacking -- what is your idea? i think the white house would say, what would you have us do? she makes it very clear every war can't be won and we're in korea 70 years later. the idea was to leave troops there. that was not frankly on the menu for the united states. donald trump skm biden, neither were for staying. >> look at the air bases we maintain all over the world. >> and, you know, for secretary rice, i think this day is about all that everyone has said it's about, but i think it's also about a foreign policy that's been rejected by the voters. the republicans did it in 2016 when they nominated donald trump. he ran against, i think, everybody that donald trump ran against in the republican primary adhered to a more, if
you will, traditional foreign policy in line with what secretary rice said. president biden, a critic of the wars in iraq and afghanistan for decades. and so i think some sort of keeping it real is acknowledging that the country has moved on from seeing our role to be a military presence in these places. >> to our control room, do we have the other conversation ready that we've been hoping to air? okay, we're working on that. it's an extended interview with defense secretary austin. just to go back to a point you made that the secretary underscored, not traveling with the national security adviser or the deputy, it was a domestic trip to florida.
>> and, look, this is up your alley. what air force one was was a marvel. what it has become is other worldly. air force one is now a traveling white house. you now have the communications capabilities to be in touch with your team all day. you now have secure videoconferencing. i mean, it changed the way presidents travel, not just in terms of who travels with them, but what they can do in flight. because a lot of the chaos of the day, from her perspective and in terms of president bush -- actually, we left reporters everywhere we stopped. i think we dumped a bunch of reporters in florida and more reporters got dropped off because they kept flying to different places. >> and nebraska and then louisiana. >> right, before he came back. and i remember -- i mean, i was a mid-level communications
staffer. first thing i was asked to do on september 11th was to find the first public remarks that president bill clinton had delivered to the nation after the world trade center bombing while he was president. it was obviously a very different attack and a very different time. he didn't address that attack until -- it happened on a friday, until the next morning in his radio address. another relic of the american presidency. so i was trying to find those remarks. i found the transcript of president clinton's radio address, and then i was evacuated by secret service who looked at my shoes and said take off those shoes and run. and i had to go back and round up a reporter on my team who refused to leave. she was one of the hardest working people in the bush presidency. i got her out and most of my colleagues and i worked off of our flip phones from my apartment in glover park. and then we got word late in the day that we were expected in the office the next morning bright
and early. that was our statement as staffers. what could you do? we could go back to work. >> that was a good promising sign. your point about air force one, i remember telling people that jetblue had satellite television before air force one. >> yes, i think that is tragically the truth. but, yeah, it became a totally different -- and i'm sure in ways that are detectible to someone like me, it became a totally different aircraft with different capabilities. >> it's a good time to bring in a colleague of ours, our chief foreign correspondent, richard engel, who frequent viewers know, escaped from afghanistan after covering the end there, to the safety of doha in qatar.
richard, your career follows the arc that started with this event we commemorate and mark the 20th anniversary of today. it has taken you all over the world, but mostly, of course, to the region where you join us from now. and i'm curious for your thoughts on this anniversary, but especially in light of the vacuum now, left by the u.s. withdrawal from afghanistan? >> reporter: so, yes, 9/11 changed everything. it changed the world. i think it was a surprise attack for most americans. people didn't know who osama bin ladin was, didn't understand his endless jihad, didn't understand why they were involved in it, why he was suddenly targeting innocent americans who seemed like they had nothing to do with his clash of civilizations. and then, very soon, u.s. troops
were at war on two front, in afghanistan and in iraq. and i had the privilege of following many of those troops, telling their stories as they were on their patrols, trying to both stop an insurgency, but also an insurgency that they believed would change the middle east, change the ideology of the middle east. and i remember talking to so many soldiers who signed up because of 9/11. there was a whole early generation and i could tell by old how they were that these were people who had just gone down to the recruiting office and joined because of 9/11. and that generation of u.s. service members bounced back and forth between iraq and afghanistan. and this went on and on for deployment after deployment. sometimes they would do a year in iraq, then take a year out. then they would get right back to iraq or afghanistan. and it was a very heavy burden that was not widely distributed
across the united states. initially, afghanistan was the quieter front. afghanistan was successful. most people don't remember, probably, that afghanistan, the taliban were overthrown in just a few months, just about three months after 9/11. a lightning strike led by the cia drove the taliban from kabul, from all of afghanistan, broke up al qaeda, but osama bin ladin managed to get away and slipped over the border into pakistan. it was only the iraq war that allowed the taliban to regroup and reform. so this was a dynamic where the entire region was a warfront and that continued until really just this summer when president biden decided that he wanted to end this era and the era of the bush wars and pull out all of the remaining 2,500 troops that were still in afghanistan, holding the country together, supporting the afghan national army,
supporting the government. he was implementing a deal signed by his predecessor. and i was there, we remember reporting on it, i remember reporting that the withdrawal of the troops, even in its early phases, was causing the government to crack. it was causing a morale collapse among afghan soldiers. then the taliban swept into power. it took less than two weeks and they were soon in kabul. i was in kabul watching them roll into town, and they were so quickly in kabul that the evacuation hadn't even completed yet. so now the u.s. found itself in this very uncomfortable, very dangerous situation of trying to organize a withdrawal while the taliban are in kabul, while the taliban are all around them, prisoners have escaped, including isis prisoners from jail, and there's a stampede rushing to the airport with people wanting to leave with american forces. so it was an unbelievably
chaotic withdraw and now the world is still trying to deal with the aftermath. i wouldn't say there's a vacuum in afghanistan right now. the taliban are in control. they are better armed than they were 20 years ago, they now have american weapons, and they have a new narrative. and their narrative is that they defeated the united states. so instead of being just a vacuum, it is a vacuum that could draw in extremists to this narrative who want to take part in what they're describing as a victory over the american superpower. >> richard engel, that's an incredibly stark bookend to what this day is here, here in new york city. but could you just expand upon how your sources all over the world view this anniversary and this day and our country at this moment? >> reporter: so for americans, it is clearly a moment to
remember, to try to move on, to try to find unity. i've been listening all day and gotten choked up many times as i'm hearing the names and listening to bruce springstein, and it is for the united states a powerful moment. but seen from outside the country, there is a real concern that there's a hole in central asia, that the u.s. pulled out under fire and handed over a country of 40 million people to a government that is still closely aligned to al qaeda loyalists, that there's a refugee situation throughout central asia right now that is starting to head toward pakistan. there are concerns of a spillover effect, destabilizing at least certain provinces in pakistan. so when i speak to officials in the region and all over the world, they worry about the inspirational aspect of this, that terrorists could look at afghanistan and think that they
want to emulate the attack, somehow, to join this reinvigorated jihad, and there's concern about instability in one of the most populus parts of the world. >> to richard engel, our thanks for reporting in today. today sees richard in doha, qatar. nicolle and i want to thank especially the family members we've spoken to today for sharing stories and memories of their loved ones from this always sad occasion. this striking place on this striking day. i mentioned the conversation with secretary of defense lloyd austin. that will be upcoming. but for now, for us, we're going to turn things over to ali velshi and stephanie ruhle, our colleagues who will continue our special coverage from here at ground zero.
♪♪ good morning, and welcome to msnbc's special coverage of the 20th anniversary of the tragic september 11th attacks. i'm stephanie ruhle. >> and i'm ali velshi. just moments ago we heard from vice president kamala harris at the 9/11 memorial in shanksville, pennsylvania, where she reflected upon the unity shown by americans in the wake of the attack. >> on the days that followed september 11th, 2001, we were all reminded that unity is possible in america. we were reminded, also, that unity is imperative in america.
it is essential to our shared prosperity, to our national security, and to our standing in the world. >> today the nation is in mourning as we commemorate one of the darkest days in american history. 20 years ago life as we knew it came to a halt. the terrorist attacks of september 11th claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people and left the entire country reeling. two hijacked commercial planes, night 11 and 75 crashed into the twin towers in new york city. ultimately causing a symbol of america's financial power to collapse into a billowing cloud of debris and smoke. >> hijackers crashed a third plane, american airlines flight 77, into the pentagon, tearing a hole into the headquarters of our nation's military. the faa would soon ground all flights in an attempt to figure out which planes were compromised. then a fourth plane, united
airlines flight 93, crashed into an open field in shanksville, pennsylvania. it was diverted from its original target in washington, after a struggle between a team of hijackers and the flight's passengers and the crew. >> with stunning clarity, most of us remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when this attack profoundly shook the world's belief in america's invincibility. those in new york or washington at the time experienced the fear and the chaos firsthand. others watched in horror as the devastation unfolded on live tv. and today we're still living in the wake of that enormous grief while we honor those who lost their lives. >> president biden plans to visit all three sites of the 9/11 terror attacks today. he began this morning at a memorial event right here at ground zero with first lady squil biden, with the obamas and the clintons. the first lady, vice president
kamala harris and the first gentleman were in shanksville where former president george w. bush gave remarks. >> they choose a random group of americans on a routine flight to be collateral damage in a spectacular act of terror. the terrorists soon discovered that a random group of americans is an exceptional group of people. facing an impossible circumstance, they comforted their loved ones by phone, braced each other for action, and defeated the designs of evil. these americans were brave, strong and united in ways that shocked the terrorists, but should not surprise any of us. this is the nation we know. >> both president biden and the vice president are set to participate in a wreath laying ceremony before heading to the 9/11 commemoration service at the pentagon later today.
ali and i are here at ground zero, where services this morning have been punctuated by six separate moments of silence. the pauses mark when each of the twin towers were hit, the exact time each of them fell, the moment the pentagon was struck, and when the last plane crashed in pennsylvania. in a special tribute, families are gathering today to read the names of the loved ones they lost 20 years ago today. the event marks return to the typical commemoration ceremony after last year's event was drastically altered due to the pandemic. >> joining us now here at this sacred site is the ceo of the tower to tunnels foundation. frank started the foundation to honor his late brother, steven, who was an off-duty firefighter, strapped 60 pounds of gear to his back and raced on foot through the brooklyn battery tunnel to the twin towers, where he died saving others.
terry seers joins us as well. this nonprofit organization's goal is to provide community for families who have suffered losses due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. and paul washington is the captain of the fdny engine 234 firehouse. he's a firefighter who served for over 30 years and has pushed for recognition of the 12 black firefighters who lost their lives helping others on 9/11. thanks to all three of you for joining us. >> first i want to start with you. you have been on this walk for weeks now. now here you are at ground zero. this is such an important day for you, for your family. how do you feel? >> i feel proud that i was able to honor my brother in a very respectful and meaningful way. i heard the president is going to go visit all three sites. i did, also. i started at the pentagon and walked from the pentagon to shanksville, pennsylvania.
i laid a wreath at both places, said the lord's prayer at both places, and then walked here to new york city, finishing this morning when i retraced my brother's final heroic footsteps. he ran through the brooklyn battery tunnel 20 years ago, that was the only way he could get there. he had a wife, five beautiful children. he gave it all. first responders that were running into the building, we can never forget the sacrifice they made and i wanted to say thank you to my little brother, who has inspired his older siblings to do good in his memory. >> that last mile going through the tunnel, what was going through your mind? >> i'm going to tell you what was going through my mind, most everything. i remember the day my brother was born. he's 14 years younger than me. i remember my father coming to my school, i was in the eighth grade, and he said, frank, you have a new brother and tears were coming down his face. and then i remember after my parents died, when he was a little boy and he was orphaned
at the age of ten and he grew up to be this dynamic human being, a firefighter. loved the brotherhood of a firefighter. strong person. wanted to do something for people and serve people, and he made the ultimate sacrifice. i couldn't be more proud to be steven's older brother. >> we are finding that opportunity today to find solace in all the heroes like your brother who ran toward this, as people needed to run away from it. captain washington, thank you for being with us, and you are honoring a number of your fdny colleagues who died, hundreds died on that day and hundreds have died since. and you are trying to draw attention, particularly to the 12 black firefighters who died on 9/11. >> certainly, first, thank you for having me. we honor all 343 firefighters
who died, but this organization of new york city's black firefighters, we particularly honor them because we feel they haven't gotten the recognition that they should. after 9/11 we didn't see them portrayed often enough and we didn't hear their lives being talked about. and so we particularly honor those 12 and we'll be having a ceremony for them later this afternoon in brooklyn. they were 12 really, really beautiful brothers. i knew all 12 of them and they were great guys. just full of life, such family men, people that you really could be proud of. and we couldn't be any prouder of them than we are and the sacrifices they've made, and all 343, it enriches our lives. one of the best things about being a firefighter is the respect that you get from the
public. the public loves us, they respect us. and that respect makes our lives better. it gives you -- you know, it's very satisfying. and the reason why people respect us so much is because they know we do a dangerous job and that sometimes we're called to make the ultimate sacrifice, which these men certainly did. >> terry, of course, you have done a lot of work with the families of people who lost loved ones in 9/11. i want to hold on for a second to have that conversation with you and i want to toss it to andrea mitchell and hallie jackson, who at the pentagon, where we are also commemorating this important day and they've got an important guest with them. >> we're here at the pentagon where the formal ceremony has wrapped up. we will see president biden and vice president harris later on, late afternoon, early evening. we know president biden is on his way to shanksville, pennsylvania, now, for a ceremony there. he is visiting all three sites today. i want to bring in somebody who is joining us at our live shot
from the pentagon, john brennan, the former cia director, now an msnbc senior national security director and analyst. thank you for being here. >> director brennan, when you think back 20 years ago, you spent so much time in saudi arabia, you were station chief for the cia for years before you were in the white house as national security director and then cia director. how much safer are we now, given that al qaeda and the taliban are in charge of afghanistan and we can hit them from so-called over-the-horizon, 1,200 miles away, but we don't have boots on the ground? >> 9/11 was galvanizing for the u.s. government and people to try to prevent a recurrence of those attacks. over the past 20 years i think about the strength, determination, resilience of the military, of the intelligence officers and the law enforcement agents and others who have
worked tirelessly to try to understand the nature of that threat and to do everything possible to mitigate it. so i do believe that we are in fact safer than we were back then, but that doesn't mean that the terrorists are not still out there. i think in light of what's happened in afghanistan, we have to be particularly vigilant about efforts of al qaeda, isis-k and others to try to regenerate the capability to attack us here. >> can you talk about the current status of the capabilities? director burns said we've got to be clear-eyed about the reality, that they want to regain the capability to be able to perpetrate an attack on the u.s., and they don't have that at the moment. i think experts seem to agree that's accurate at this point. >> yes, the capabilities of al qaeda and other terrorist groups to project terrorist activities here in the united states has been seriously degraded and also the terrorist threat to be dispersed throughout the middle east and africa and asia. in afghanistan right now there
are al qaeda operatives, as well as isis-k who i think are focusing on trying to regenerate capabilities there. i think the ultimate aim is to try to carry out attacks against the u.s. interests, whether in the region, and i think their aspiration is to try to do it once again in the homeland. >> we lost 13 marines in the evacuation and they evacuated so many, more than 100,000. but so many were also left behind. what are your thoughts? you know some of these people, you worked with some in their intelligence capacity. >> i think there's great sadness in the intelligence community, as well as in the military that the end of the afghanistan war did not turn out the way we had hoped, which was there was going to be a government in afghanistan that was going to protect the rights of the afghans throughout the country. and so i think what we want to do right now is to make sure that we do everything possible to try to put pressure on the taliban not to return to their old ways, but also to try to ensure that we get people out. american citizens, those who worked closely with us, working with the humanitarian organizations, working with
other countries and services, but i do think our job in afghanistan is far from done. >> could you just take a moment on a day like today to share some of your personal reflections on what this day means to you 20 years later, as someone who has seen some of the highest, most sensitive classified information in the american government, what people should know about 9/11 and how you're doing. >> well, i think after 9/11 cia took it as a personal responsibility to ensure that they were going to be able to prevent any future attacks. i think about my colleagues and friends and classmates who died in 9/11. i think about those very brave officers of cia and of other government agencies who sacrificed their lives so that we can live today, and so there's just a lot that i know that my former colleagues and i who have been in touch this morning are just reminiscing about just the importance of this day and making sure that we truly never forget. >> so