Skip to main content /TRANSCRIPTS


Ground Zero Ceremony Concludes

Aired September 11, 2002 - 17:26   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I have what may be considered a corny thought but you know what makes us love this country so much is because we do come together at times like this no matter where we're from, no matter where we live, no matter what our age, our background, our political persuasion, we come together and politics doesn't matter.
I'm saying this at the moment that we are seeing at the capitol some of the leaders of Congress gather to sing themselves. The House of Representatives just now voting on, and I believe passing, a resolution to recognize September 11 as a day to remember. It's just one more reminder that, you know, yes we came together last year, a year ago at this time. The country was united politically for a while, and yes there were divisions since then.

They're still arguing over the budget and they'll argue over a lot of things between now and the November elections. We had a midterm primary election yesterday, but when all is said and done we are Americans first.

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Nicely done, nicely said. I couldn't tell from the shot if the members of the House had started singing or are just trying to figure out who stands in what row. We'll work on that for a bit.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Bipartisanship today huh? We don't care which row you stand in.

BROWN: One of the more powerful shots of a year ago though, and with absolute respect to what they're about to do, there are some moments that simply you can not replicate. It's just not the same.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: They spontaneously began singing "God Bless America."


GREENFIELD: Nobody set it up. It was not planned. It seemed to come out of their wounded hearts.

ZAHN: But there was a certain element of defiance in the way they sang it too, which is what I will always remember about that day.


ZAHN: You can't help but be moved by what we're seeing unfold here. We saw a woman hand the president what appeared to be a snapshot of a loved one. We know the president is carrying with him the badge of a Port Authority officer who died here. Relatives say he was murdered here a year ago and the president carried that to remind himself of the terrible loss that this country has witnessed.

BROWN: It's about half past five now in the East. I don't remember one point in the day I knew how long the president was planning to be at Ground Zero, but I -- sure as I'm sitting here, I guarantee they're running behind. This is -- this is not a moment that either side of this emotional wall wants to rush. It has to play out in its own time and in its own way. And I'm sure the president is not going to shortchange anyone here, no president would.

ZAHN: What I'd love to have all us reflect on is the role that faith has played in this president's life over the past year. I know that the president has talked publicly about how he starts every day, reading out of the bible, and has talked a lot this year about how his convictions have helped shore him up and as he's tried to lead the country through this very dark time.

GREENFIELD: His advocates, his supporters have always talked about it -- particularly after September 11 have talked about I guess what is out now, almost an overused phrase of "moral clarity." It's also interesting, Paula and Aaron, that in the first weeks after September 11, there was much talk about a return to religion. Churches and synagogues were being filled. What we know now is that that was very short-lived. In fact, church and synagogue and I don't -- I think mosque attendances no higher than it was. That was what someone called "foxhole religion." That is, when you're in a foxhole, in danger, you're looking out for all the help you can get.

With this president though, clearly, his religious faith was a turning point in his life -- his decision to stop drinking at age 40, his decision to take his religion more seriously. It's how he talks about many issues in terms of good and evil. I think for him it has been a critical part of how he has tried to think about his response.

BROWN: Well -- and it suggests here is, also, to some degree have been part of the way he has wanted to govern. One of the things he talked about both in the campaign -- and we haven't heard much about it and it has had real problems making its way through the Congress -- is this whole idea of faith-based groups being more active, getting government money to do good works. He is a believer. He is a believer not only in his religion, but he is a believer that religions can help the society solve some of the ills that government, clearly, has been unable to solve.

ZAHN: You're looking at mass that is now underway at St. Patrick's Cathedral, 50 or so blocks north of where the president is at Ground Zero. Cardinal Egan, the archbishop of New York is expected to say something a little bit later on. He has talked so much about the generosity of spirit that we've seen exposed here in New York during the past year, you know, referring to New Yorkers and particularly the family members who have endured so much as the most open, charitable and spontaneous people I've ever met.

This is -- the president continues to spend time with family members.

Jeff, I wanted to come back to the point you were making about what a personal journey this has been for the president with his faith. And I don't know if you can remember the specific conversation he's talked about that he had with Billy Graham that he said was a life-changing event.

GREENFIELD: He has told the story many times. He has told it in his biography. And this was a -- this was a fellow who into his late 30s was not all that sure what he was going to do with his life and his parents have talked about the fact that they were not all that sure that he was off to a good start.

Supposedly, when the president tells the story, he had this conversation with Billy Graham. It made a profound difference in his life. It seems the case that he woke up on his 40 birthday having had too much to drink and said, "I'm not going to do this anymore." And by every measure we can tell, he's -- that's been it. You know, that's close -- that's about 15, 16, 17 years ago.

And I think it's particularly relevant because when you think about what brought on this horrible day. You had a whole lot of conversations about whether or not we are at war with a radical fundamentalist form of Islam, a perversion of a peaceful faith that has taken on itself to say that God wanted us to do this, which is a thought that for -- I think almost all of us, is almost incomprehensible. And so, to match that kind of enemy with a conviction that -- of faith of your own is kind of an interesting way to put on the table a battle that -- in normal years you think of, well, here's one force and there's another force. But there's faith of one kind or another, legitimate or perverted, on both sides of this equation.

BROWN: The president at Ground Zero. At St. Patrick's the -- I'm trying to think of the right way to phrase it. It is the cathedral here in New York where you will find the archbishop.

GREENFIELD: The cardinal.

BROWN: The cardinal.

GREENFIELD: New Yorkers call it, by the way, the powerhouse...


GREENFIELD: ... because the archbishop of New York is not only a spiritual figure, but in the city with the largest Catholic population of America, is also a figure of some temporal significance.

BROWN: I was going to call it the home office of Catholicism here in New York. I mean it is the place in any case.

In the right of your screen, a congressional leadership moving out in Washington. So 12 hours into -- almost 12 hours, 11-and-a-half hours into our day, there's so many events unfolding. They will continue through the evening. There's a wonderful ceremony planned for -- just after 7:00 tonight down in Battery Park here in New York. So the day is dotted with different ways to remember this important and tragic event of American history.

ZAHN: We've talked a little bit today about how all of our mornings were so shaken by what happened a year ago. And terrorists murdered almost 3,000 of our citizens.

And John, I wanted to bring you into the discussion now because I understand even though this is an administration that puts great value on family life, that the president became even more committed to encourage those who work with him in his administration to spend more time with their families, to go home earlier, to hug their children.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And in fact, Paula, we have seen in the months after September 11, one of the president's closest advisers, Karen Hughes, take that advise to heart and move back to Texas. She is still a close adviser to this president and she is traveling with him today, but her 15-year-old son relocated from Austin and did not take as kindly to the Washington area. And Karen Hughes decided that it was better for her, even though she was the most powerful woman to ever work in a White House, to go back to Texas. She's still quite influential. But the president tells aides to get out of the White House, to spend more time with their families.

He has also encouraged them to be more physically fit and to spend some time outside of the office. The president believes that is important. Some people occasionally criticize this president's work ethic, if you will, because he does leave the offers to go to the White House and work out. He does like to go for long runs. He says it is critical for his time to think and to get some separation.

And as you see him making the rounds here, this is a president who is very, very, very well liked by his staff. Many people are with him who have been with him since his first day as governor of Texas and they are a loyal bunch. And you could say that is predictable, but they tell very fond tales of this president as a person and how he has helped them out when they have needed help whether it's a family emergency or something else.

BROWN: It's a nice little moment there. I hope you saw when the president smiled because it's just -- in the -- for the last, I don't know now, 40 minutes or so, there haven't been many smiles and there hasn't much to smile about when you consider the context of it all. But whatever that little exchange was and we'll never know -- excuse me -- it certainly brought a smile to the president's face and I'll admit to ours as well. It was nice to see that.

ZAHN: I guess my attention was focused on the First Lady at that point. And I know John talked a little bit earlier on about how much her role has been transformed by September 11. But it's to believe, as you watch her face off with these family members, that she's had this tremendous comfort level.

GREENFIELD: I'm just struck by all the people handing pictures of their loved ones to the president and Mrs. Bush. It's as if they want them to know this is why you are here and this will somehow keep his memory or her memory alive even longer if I can put in the president or the First Lady's hands this image of the person we lost.


BROWN: Again, I think, speaks to something that -- this hit me a bit ago, the power of a moment for any citizen of any party and any of that -- it doesn't matter -- to come face-to-face, hand-to-hand with the president of the United States.

Judy Woodruff is in Washington -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Aaron, we're watching -- I'm watching -- we all are here in Washington, these pictures from New York of the president and these people. And you know I can't help but note once again, I'm watching these names on the bottom of the screen moving across and of course, they're people of all ages, but so many of them were young. They were 23. They were 30. They were 29 or 34. They were young people whose parents are still around and we all know it's just not natural for children to be taken away before their parents. And you know you're watching a lot of people here, brothers and sisters and young children, but these were young victims in many instances and I think that's just one more thing that makes this whole thing so much harder on all of us.

ZAHN: It's been heartbreaking to watch these families go into this circle of honor today. So many of them unable to reconcile -- how you could you -- what's happened to them. They talk openly about the amount of therapy they continue to need, to get through their daily lives. And you just hope that they do find a small ounce of comfort in this national sharing of their pain today.

BROWN: One of the things we know, unfortunately, we know, we learned from Oklahoma City is that right at about this point, the nine months to a year point, is when we start see signs in people of post- traumatic stress. This is when we start to see things like survivor's guilt start to emerge. I was talking to someone yesterday who made it out. We talked about it. We talked to he and his wife. And he was talking about how he's much more irritable now. I mean this is a man who, honestly, is lucky that he ever got a chance to hug his wife and hold his child. His wife was five or six months pregnant at the time. And he finds himself very irritable these days, very quick to fly off the handle. And these are sort of the beginning signs, the classic signs.

And one of the things we're going to see in New York unfortunately, and in Washington and other places too, are these symptoms of post-traumatic stress, marital problems, drug and alcohol problems. The notion that the pain now is over is really misguided. In fact, the pain shifts and changes a bit from those who have been grieving for the last year to those who survived or tried to get people out, the rescue workers who live with the sense of we didn't save enough people.

ZAHN: We also hear these terrible stories about illnesses that rescue work remembers are fighting right now. They've been documented. And we haven't even addressed the challenge that many of the family members face as they try to create an economic future in the wake of the loss of their loved ones. That is a brutal process that these families are very slowly navigating.

GREENFIELD: And even if you're fighting through the thicket and most of them, I suspect, will financially wind up OK because there's such an outpouring. It's the enormous upsetting in thousands of lives of the normal order of things.

There's a line from Sean O'Casey (ph), I think it is -- children should bury their parents. Parents should not bury their children. And for thousands of people -- Judy mentioned the fact that many of these people, particularly in the investment world are go-getters, firefighters. They're -- how old are they? They were in their 30s. They were in their 40s. And it's not only that they've left wives, husbands and children, they've left parents for whom this is -- any of us who is a parent, know that is the worst thing you can face. And it is being faced not one at a time, but by a couple of thousand sets of parents. And it makes what Aaron talked about, I think, all the more dreadful to contemplate that this is a scar that will run a very long time.

And we -- and Paula, you were quite right, I think. This talk about closure comes very easy in kind of -- on the cheek, but it's just not the reality.

ZAHN: Not at all. And I think these families take great umbrage when they hear that word "youth." And they will tell you that it stings, it hurts, when they hear that because they say that sort of disavows any knowledge of what they have to put up with on a day-to- day basis. I've spoken with aunts and uncles that are raising, you know, their young nephews and just the difficulty they've had in helping these kids try to understand what's happened in their family is just almost unbearable to think about.

BROWN: You see all these children down there, these babies and five and six and seven-year-olds, their American flag shirts meeting the president of the United States. We hope some day that they'll remember this moment beyond the grieving of this moment, that their encounter with the president of the United States or the Secretary of State of the United States will have a power to them that transcends this sad time.

ZAHN: John, I'm wondering if you could share with us anything you've learn about Secretary Powell and what he's been through this past year. This is after all, the city where he was born. If I know John, he's probably trying to get more excerpts from the president's speech to have at -- tonight at 9:00.

BROWN: Or he's got -- or he's got four sources on that. This is the members of Congress.


BROWN: Members of the House, Democrats and Republicans and Independent or -- no, and an Independent or two sprinkled in. I had to think there for a second. I knew about Congressman Sanders.

GREENFIELD: She's just going down south, actually, who may be switching. He was a Democrat and became an Independent. I think he's about ready to make a last step and become Republican. But you're -- it's just -- if you want to call it tripartisan, you can -- that's fair.

BROWN: Thank you. And after 11-and-three-quarters-hours that I got that close.

ZAHN: I was going to say it is OK to be fuzzy. We've been sitting here for almost 12 hours.

BROWN: I simply should have said, which is what I always do in a political moment -- Judy, how many independents are there?

WOODRUFF: I only know about Bernie Sanders from Vermont, but there may be more. Somebody suggested this a minute ago. These people, you know, hey were arguing yesterday about the budget and about homeland security. Tomorrow, they'll argue again, but today, they're together. They're holding flags. They're singing "God Bless America." But you can bet, you know, your bottom dollar that they're going to go back to -- you know, back to their corners, if you will because Congress is still in session for another three or four weeks. They have not -- you'll be interested to know, the president -- they have not sent -- agreed on and sent the president a single spending bill for any one of 13 major federal agencies that get a spending bill. So there's a lot to be hashed out here.

BROWN: Well, that...

WOODRUFF: But having said that -- having said that, you know, they're smiling and hugging each other today.

BROWN: They can go battle it out tomorrow. That's, I think, OK. That's the process. That's the way it's supposed to work.

GREENFIELD: It worked that way, you know. Less than a year after Pearl Harbor, the Republicans and the Democrats had a furious mid-term election. In fact, Republicans picked up a lot of seats. Partisanship doesn't die when conflict begins and a good thing, I think.

BROWN: Wolf, you're out there. You've been at the Pentagon all day and I imagine you're still there. As you watched this all, what's been rolling through your mind?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as I've been watching the screen for the last hours and hours and hours and I can't help but -- like Judy and so many of our viewers, looked down at the bottom and see these names, CNN remembers the hundreds, in fact, the thousands of people who died on -- a year ago, exactly, one year ago. And as I'm looking at these names, there's -- I keep seeing, as we're seeing right now, Cantor Fitzgerald. This huge investment company or at least what once was a big securities firm located up on the top floors of the World Trade Center. And I had a cousin who was on the 102nd floor of the World Trade Center and he worked at Cantor Fitzgerald. He, of course died, Jeffrey Schweyer (ph). And of course, my mind focuses in on him. I went to his wedding years ago. A lovely young man, a good son, a good husband, and someone whose -- I'm thinking of right now, as I keep seeing these hundreds of names associated with Cantor Fitzgerald. I keep looking for his name. I haven't seen it yet. It may have gone by when I wasn't looking, but it's just a personally, painful moment for me to remember that he was on the 102nd floor.

I remember, also, in 1993 at the first World Trade Center attack, he was up on the 102nd floor. He did climb down 102 floors and he was safe, but he -- the next day, he went back to work. There again, Cantor Fitzgerald. Once again, if you look at the bottom of the screen. Just a sad moment for me personally, as I sit here at the Pentagon and hear a lot of heartfelt, sad stories from people here who endured as well.

BROWN: One of the things that I think I learned about New York, and perhaps New Yorkers learned, too, in this -- and none of us is very far removed from this. We all know somebody who knows somebody who at least knows. I have not met one person who's more than three steps removed, and probably no more than two. Maybe it's not your cousin or spouse, but it's your barber's wife or...

GREENFIELD: A classmate's daughter.

BROWN: A classmate's daughter. It is the -- 3,000 people is in an enormous number because it touches tens and thousands -- I suspect more than that -- of lives. And so, you find yourself -- you know, your dentist's brother-in-law was in that building or something like that. And you are changed for it.

GREENFIELD: Because it's an unnatural death. We just saw on the screen, The AP tells us that former Baltimore Colt quarterback Johnny Unitas died. New Yorkers have not so fond and a much more trivial memory of him. He quarterbacked the Colts against the New York Giants in 1959, I think, early in -- in one of the greatest games ever and died in the fullness of his years and after a long and successful life. And that's the way one hope -- we all hope that the process works. And it just...

ZAHN: The numbers are so clinical, though. You know? When you hear that almost 3,000 people died. I guess for me, it wasn't until this morning when I heard Mayor Giuliani, among others, slowly read the name of every single person killed here a year ago, that it really got to me. It's hard to get a grasp exactly what that means. I think you raise a good point, Aaron, because I've yet to meet someone who has not been affected by it.

BROWN: Our friend -- and many of you know him, Reverend Mark Hellman (ph), in the Yankee Stadium memorial, the second Sunday after the attack, said, "Don't think about this as 3,000 people who died. Think of it as one person who died 3,000 times, that these are all individuals." And we do, in fact, get caught up in the big number, the raw number of it all. But as each of these names go by, as each of these families greets the president or the president greets each of them, each one of them was somebody who mattered.

GREENFIELD: That's one of the series that the "New York Times" is still running.


GREENFIELD: It's a year later. Those portraits of grief, was probably, for me, the most effecting and powerful remembrance because in two or three paragraphs, they captured them not as icons or as abstractions but as human beings. They loved to coach little league. He was a fanatic for opera. She loved to cook strange food. They loved to take trips. Here's what they did with their kids every day. And that was one person's story and then another person's story and pick the "New York Times" today and there's two full pages of it, which really reminds you of what this is about. It's -- you're quite right, it's not 3,000 names that go by, it's lives and lives that touched a dozen, a hundred, a thousand, other people.

BROWN: John King, our senior White House correspondent watching the president and will be covering the president's speech tonight as well -- John.

KING: Aaron, we have seen the president over the past year, sometimes within minutes of each other, juggling the competing roles, if you will, the very different roles he has to play. Here, consoling the family members of the victims of those killed. And as you noted earlier, the president seems to know what each member wants. Sometimes he's joking and smiling. Sometimes he's signing an autograph. Other times, there are tears on the president. He will be at this site for some time longer as he makes his way through here. And then, some brief preparations for his speech to the nation tonight. And we will see the president begin to turn the corner, if you will, there.

Today is a day of reflection and healing. The president will signal his resolve tonight though to carry through the war on terrorism until it's finished, as he sees it. And then, tomorrow, the much more controversial debate, whether -- even as phase one on the war on terrorism continues against al Qaeda in Afghanistan and elsewhere, the president will tell the United Nations its very credibility is at stake if it does not stand up to Saddam Hussein and Iraq.

So many challenges for the president that as Judy noted earlier, we focus today on remembering the pain of the country and the international challenge, the fight, if you will, that was thrust upon the president.

His close adviser, Karen Hughes -- I mentioned her earlier -- she put this way, in the days after, that the president did not pick this fight, but he knows full way he will be defined by it. And she described a meeting on September 12, the morning after, last year, in which the president told everyone in the room, "This is now the mission of our presidency, first and foremost among anything else. This is what we will be defined by. This is the fight we must win."

BROWN: Thank you, John. John King, our senior White House correspondent.

Judy Woodruff in Washington -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Aaron, I was just listening to John and thinking, of course, the White House will say there is nothing political about the timing of tomorrow's speech. And yet, surely, coming one day after the outpouring today, the remembering of 9/11, you have to believe that some thought was given to the lift, the benefit of the doubt, whatever you want to call it, that the president is going to have as he makes what I think John has accurately described as a very difficult argument before a very skeptical audience, not only at the United Nations, but in Washington before the Congress and other influential opinion leaders in this country.

ZAHN: Jeff, I saw you grin when Judy talked a little bit about the timing of his speech before the General Assembly tomorrow.

GREENFIELD: Not because of any, you know, cynical notions, but Judy is right. To think that there is no political fallout from something like this is like another formula for turning led into gold. Take a pound of lead and don't think of the word "elephant." I mean the midterm elections are less than two months away. Democrats are watching what's going on today and thinking about it. The White House is thinking about it. It's part of the process.

And in the case of tomorrow, to play both to the national and international community, not now about terrorism, a year ago, it was easier for the president, in the sense that nobody was going to stand up, except for -- let me be editorial -- lunatics and say, "Oh, wasn't this a good thing. Let's debate whether it was a good thing to slaughter 3,000 innocents."

Taking the United States into a military action against Iraq is a very, very different story. And it's going to -- and it's going to have not just international consequences, there are political ramifications to this. And anybody who says, "Oh, no, nobody should be thinking about that" is delusional.

ZAHN: It's not clear exactly what the president will outline tomorrow. There are those who feel that there will be a subtle, it's OK to go it alone message and there are others who think that that won't be the case tomorrow. You, of course, will be joining Aaron and me, as we cover the speech tomorrow morning.

GREENFIELD: Last year, when the president talked to the U.N. after 9/11, he said, "This is all of your fight because even now terrorists are all over the world planning things maybe against your country." He's going -- it's harder to make that argument in that one-to-one way tomorrow, but he -- I think John's already told us -- and if there's anybody knows what's up, it's John King -- that he's going to challenge the U.N. in saying this is your credibility not just the United States, to do something about someone who's developing weapons of mass destruction. It's a -- I think it's a much tougher argument to make than he had a year ago.

BROWN: We -- the president speaks tomorrow about 10:30, 10:20, as I recall, over on the East side of the New York, the General Assembly of the United Nations. He has plenty to do before then, including a speech tonight from Ellis Island, just after -- and I do mean just after 9:00 in the way that these things work.

Bill Hemmer has been around Ground Zero with us since early this morning, as well --Bill.

BILL HEMMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Aaron, it strikes me for the past, oh, I'd say what a year-and-a-half, John, we've been watching this president show up at events and he is one punctual man. Often times, he gets to a location early and to be quite honest with you, stuns a lot of us in the media that it happens that way.

But right now, Aaron, we're watching a man who is in absolutely no hurry. To our viewers, he is down -- seven stories below the street level in an area known as "The Pit." Behind him essentially, there is a circle, a ring where there have been thousands of flowers placed there earlier in the day here today. And to give you a sense of the way he is working this, if you were to start at 12:00 and work counterclockwise, the president has moved from his right to his left and right now, we think he's right about 1:00. So the circle is almost complete here.

But as I stated, this is a man who is in absolutely no hurry today, almost at times relishing the fact he could share his own emotion with the people who have grieved now for one year, for one year solid.

BROWN: Bill, thank you. Bill Hemmer, who has been at Ground Zero, vantage point 10 stories up, looking down at the pit, which seems in any circumstance, altogether an elegant way to refer to that area.

It is what -- the pit and the pile is what the workers used to call it. It is neither now. It is a construction site where someday, and in fact, this will -- it will probably be eight to 10 years before anything is really done there, Ground Zero, whatever you want to call it, will be rebuilt again in some combination of commerce and memorial, in some vision yet to be agreed upon, or perhaps even seen in anyone's mind's eye.

PAULA: A combination is surely to alienate some of the family members. They have made it quite clear how strongly they feel about what this sight should be. Some view it as a cemetery.

We just saw Mayor Rudy Giuliani, he says, it should be a memorial site, and there are family members I have spoken with who really believe it is very important for some sort of commerce to be recognized down there. Not necessarily on the footprints of the old buildings, but somewhere on that 16-acre side site.

HEMMER: It is totally in keeping with the spirit of New York, that there would be a contentious, frank and open exchange of views that last for years about just what to do about this. This happens even in the absence of something as grave as this. This is New York. BROWN: But I -- and this is -- not to sound terribly obvious yet again today, but this is a complicated question that involves literally billions of dollars and thousands of hearts. But I have, and I have spent a lot of time, actually, on this part of the story.

I have been surprised at the dignity with which this battle has been fought so far. There are strong feelings on all sides of this, and yet there does seem to be -- and I give particular credit to the people at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation who have to referee all of this and navigate this, and ultimately decide this, that they have been very patient listeners to all of the very constituencies here.

And so what could be a really uncomfortable, I think, for everyone in the country, not just New Yorkers, this uncomfortable fight, has been so far -- we emphasize "so far" -- kind of nicely waged, if that makes sense.

PAULA: I have been trying to process what we have all experienced over the year, who have been with us most of the day, Aaron. I have been here over 12 hours now. You know what -- I think we've maybe, sum total, missed two minutes of this thing together. We've left the set very little today.

And it has been so terribly, terribly sad, as we were introduced to some of the family members in Shanksville, and now those who have come to Ground Zero to greet the president.

At the same time I've found it oddly uplifting, I guess, that we have shared this experience today. We have had the luxury of some reflection we don't normally have in your daily lives, and I have found this to be incredibly powerful.

I thought that ceremony this morning at Ground Zero really did honor the dignity of many families who struggled to get here today.

BROWN: There was a young girl this morning, it seems, back when we were still wiping the sleep out of our eyes, who lost her stepfather, and she stood up with all of the poise that you could possibly imagine -- forgetting a child, and anyone under the circumstance -- and talked about missing her father, and what he meant to her, and that she had not gotten to say, "I love you" one last time.

And I thought then, and I think now, how close to the surface our feelings still are in all of this. A year has -- is a long time in some respects and in others it's not. And when we saw this kid, and she looked to me to be about 11 or 12, and I know that age pretty well in a young girl. I've got one.

And I admired her strength and poise and her ability to pour her soul out with such eloquence and dignity and strength, and wherever her daddy is, I guarantee you, he is looking down, proud of his kid this morning. I sure was.

HEMMER: And you know what that really captures, I think, one of the reasons why this is so extraordinary. It is at the same time, as personal and emotional a day as you could imagine. Death, under the most benign circumstances, does that to us, and one of the most public policy-laden days, what do we do about this? How do we solve it? What do we do about homeland security? What do we do about terrorism abroad? Is Iraq the next target?

And you put those two things together, the simple human loss that is being felt by thousands and thousands of people, and then all of these other implications, and it's, I think why this day is -- I don't think anybody can get their arms around this day. I mean, I think a lot of us have felt the feeling of what (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a business, it sometimes says too much and tries to inflate not-significant events. This is a very different story.

BROWN: You know, I expected to wrap these things up, but it just strikes me this is one of those days where, in that respect, people are perfectly capable of wrapping it up in their -- each in their own way. This sort of day means something slightly different to all of us, and to the millions of you who have joined us throughout this long and important and, at times, difficult morning.

As Paula said, those three hours this morning were, for me -- you know me, I cry at movie trailers, so, but it was just hard.

PAULA: It was brutal.

BROWN: Hard for the country and hard for all of us. But as the day moved on, I think we came to understand the importance of the day, why this day mattered. And you all are perfectly capable of summing up your own feelings without our help, I am certain.

PAULA: We're now going to turn the program over to Wolf, who is standing...

BROWN: Not quite. Let's just stay with the president -- a couple, while we watch, if I may, a couple of little pieces of business.

Lou Dobbs will have an abbreviated "MONEYLINE" shortly. We need to move things around. So that is a bit, yet, away. And we want to stay with the president for a bit.

I think that sign said "West Point remembers." Did it? Went by very quickly.

The president has been down here for a while now. He got here at about 5:00 or so.

PAULA: He has an amazing capacity to give. I think of his job, and was talking about how exhausting this must be for him emotionally, to have repeated this scene over and over and over again today.

HEMMER: You will remember back when President Clinton went to Oklahoma City after the bombing of the Alfred Murrah Federal Building and spent a great deal of time with those families. And the death toll, I don't remember the exact number, in the neighborhood of about 170 people were killed? Alright, this is 15 times that, the scale of what was then the most costly terrorist attack on American soil.

And when you realize the sheer scope of what's involved in comforting, not one person who is lost, not a single secret serviceman or single military person, but that number, we begin to understand why the president may well be there for quite a bit of time.

BROWN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I think we are getting too good at this sort of thing. There have been too many occasions in too many recent years where presidents have been called upon to do this part. And we've gotten -- or they have -- too good at it -- Jeff.

HEMMER: Back during the Cold War there was a story written about a man at a time when nuclear war might be threatened. And the last line of the story was, "Dear God, let us die one at a time." That's what we're feeling a lot of today. They didn't get that chance.

BROWN: Yes, works for me. Thank you, yes.

PAULA: We know it's been difficult for those of you who have dipped in and out of the ceremonies. We've taken you today, and here in New York at Ground Zero, at the Pentagon, Shanksville, Pennsylvania. And I know how conflicted many of you are out there about how it was you were supposed to spend your day.

And I feel actually a little more hope today after watching this, and taking some comfort from seeing the strength and the resilience we also saw exhibited today in that sea of sadness.

BROWN: Well, we have seen a lot of strength and resilience from our countrymen and women over the last year.

We'll see you again at 7:00 tonight to wrap up the day. Connie Chung joins us.

The president will speak to the country at 9:00 Eastern time from Ellis Island, and "LARRY KING LIVE," a special two-hour edition of "LARRY KING" tonight with lots of folks, including the first lady and Senator Clinton here, and many others. I am sure they'll be talking about the president's speech and the events of this extraordinary day.

So until 7:00, thank you all for the time you spent with us, and we'll see you again at 7:00. I'll see you again tomorrow morning for the president's speech to the general assembly.

PAULA: This whole team will be reunited...

BROWN: For the next few minutes...

PAULA: for that, 10:30 tomorrow morning. But you can come to us earlier at 7:00 when "AMERICAN MORNING" kicks off.

BROWN: Thanks a lot. Wolf takes it for the next few minutes -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks to Aaron and Paula. Thanks to all of our people for excellent coverage today, of these very moving events.

Here at the Pentagon -- I have been here since 5:00 this morning. Got here bright and early. It was pretty empty when I got here, although it has quickly filled up behind me, all around me. Eventually 12,000 or 13,000 people came to that first memorial service here at the Pentagon, the memorial service that was addressed to by the president of the United States, who spoke briefly but powerfully, almost showing defiance to the terrorists, promising that they would not win.

This is a building I've covered for many years. It was about 10 years or so ago that I formally stopped covering the Pentagon. I had been the CNN senior Pentagon correspondent. President Bush, of course, looking with the Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, as that huge flag was unfurled directly outside the area where that American Airlines Flight 77 had plowed into the side of the Pentagon, this west side of the Pentagon not far from the helipad, having been on that helipad many times over the years when I was CNN's Pentagon correspondent.

I did learn, of course, like all of us, that the Pentagon is a powerful building, a huge building, but also a vulnerable building. A building that showed that vulnerability, that since this past year has shown its strength, primarily because of the people who work inside.

Now to my colleague Judy Woodruff, who is in Washington -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Wolf, I just want to share two things I'm grateful for today. One is that we did see some smiles on the faces of these family members. When you think of the unspeakable burden on their hearts, for what they've lost, the fact that any of them were able to smile, even laugh with the president as we watched them in New York, did my heart good.

The other thing that I'm grateful for is that, you know, we have a day like this when we can step back, stand back and be grateful for what we have as a country. You know, we take so much for granted. This is an occasion when we look at that flag that's waving behind me at the Capitol and all over this country, and we think about this great nation that we are so fortunate to be a citizen of.

Carol Lin is in Pennsylvania -- Carol?

LIN: We are here at the crash site of Flight 93, Judy, near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. And today, we have been out here since 4:00 in the morning, and during the rain and the winds, to wait for a very special moment, and it's one that we want to share with you right now. It was the tolling of a bell, 40 strokes for each of the passengers and the crew on Flight 93.

From this moment, is that it's sometimes the more simple moments that really make the story that much more real to you. It's during these times that you realize the seriousness of what happened here in this field, and what it meant to the people who came to this memorial service today. It was a soulful ceremony, and also an opportunity to think about the future of this site.

Some half a dozen landowners actually own this site, and there's a huge debate over what will actually take place here for a permanent memorial site. But one of the most touching stories I heard, really when you talk about so many families who have started foundations, special causes, so much good that's come out of this tragedy, the story of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Bodley's (ph) father, who actually was so angry at the terrorists who took over Flight 93, that he went to Afghanistan to explore the roots of hatred.

And what he found was a love for the Afghan people, and he's now raising money to help rebuild that nation. So many stories like this have come out of the Flight 93 disaster -- John King.

KING: And Carol Lin, the president is still down behind us at Ground Zero. A reminder that the healing and the consoling still continues, one year after.

Also a reminder of the many challenges facing this president. We have seen him today at three ceremonies. Tried to console the victims and family members of those killed a year ago. We will see him in the next 18 hours address the challenges still ahead of him. A speech to the American people tonight in which the president will make clear that his resolve remains, and he will carry through, the war on terrorism to the end.

Then a speech to the United Nations tomorrow in which the president will challenge the world, say that the United Nations has a responsibility to stand up to Saddam Hussein and anyone else who could threaten the United States or countries around the world as the terrorist threats to the United States one year ago today.

So as the vice president said in a conversation earlier this week, as we watch the president console people today, we should remember, in the vice president's words, this war on terrorism is much closer to its beginning than to its end. And the president carries that challenge with him -- Bill.

HEMMER: John, my mind drifts back to a year ago tonight, and how long and lonely and dark those early days and weeks must have been for the countless families, what it's like to sleep in your bed at night without your wife, and what it is like to spend a holiday without your father around anymore. We've talked to a lot of families today. A couple of things really stick out in my mind.

Robert Fazio has helped to start an organization to help people cope and deal. He says in order to move on, you have to move in. You have to face your fears, face up to the challenges, and that's the only way, he says, you can become more proactive in your life. And as he's saying that, his mother, who lost her husband in the first tower, the south tower here, shaking her head saying, but I still have sleepless nights.

In fact, so often I find myself unable to fall asleep in the evening. Certainly time is on the side of people as long as they can move themselves further and further away from these moments. But in so many cases it is much easier said than done.

The age group that suffered the largest number of fatalities here, 35 to 39. I'm 37. It's difficult, nearly impossible to sit here and not feel this deep in the heart.

Lou Dobbs and MONEYLINE will follow here in a moment. But first, to our viewers around the world, a few of the images and memories, a few of the memories. A few of the sites that we all saw today here in New York, in Washington and in Pennsylvania, as America remembers.


DESMOND TUTU: You all in this nation, so traumatized. As one coming from outside the United States, may I speak on behalf of the rest of the world, that our hearts still go out in compassion and sympathy, as you still wrestle with the consequences of those traumatic events of the awful day we are today commemorating.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Now we join with our fellow Americans in a moment of silence.

Gordon M. Ahmed Jr.

Adele Mauro Abad (ph)

Daniel Howell Christmas.

Mark Lawrence Davis.

Jasper Baxter.

Gene Collins.

Joan Michael Collins.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were the best father I could ever ask for. I miss you, and I hope you didn't hurt too much.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will always remember how it began and who fell first, the thousands who went to work, boarded a plane or reported to their posts. We honor each name and each life.



BUSH: Wherever our military is sent in the world, you bring hope and justice and promise of a better day.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We will win this war on terror. We will win no matter how long or hard or difficult or costly it is.


TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY DIRECTOR: There were no survivors in this field on September 11. Ordered by the terrorists to be quiet and remain calm and their lives would be spared, they said no.

Have no doubt that hundreds, if not thousands of Americans, perhaps some who join us this day, survived that crash. And America is grateful.

MURIEL DORZA, SISTER OF FLIGHT 93 VICTIM: I'm 11 years old and lost my sister, Dora (ph), on Flight 93. I miss her very much. She taught me a lot of things, but most of all, she taught me to be kind to other people and animals.

SANDY DAHL, WIDOW OF FLIGHT 93 PILOT: If we have learned nothing else from this tragedy, we've learned that our lives are short and there is simply no time for hate. Flight 93 was an extraordinary gathering of individuals. We shall grieve that they died, but we should rejoice that they lived.

For all of our loved ones who perished here in Shanksville, we can depart with the gift of hope. Hope for our children, hope for our future, and hope for an everlasting freedom.



BUSH: Murder of innocents cannot be explained, only endured. And though they died in tragedy, they did not die in vain.





Back to the top