CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Special Edition: September 11: One Year Later
Aired September 11, 2002 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Just a year ago, terrorist attacks turned our world upside-down, killing 3,025 people and changing the lives of countless others.
One year ago, sometimes the pain still so fresh it seems like just a few minutes have passed, and other moments, seems like an eternity.
President George Bush will address the nation in about a minute. He will speak from Ellis Island, the Statue of liberty as a backdrop behind him.
After that, we're going to hear, in a two-hour edition of LARRY KING LIVE -- special tonight, two hours -- from first lady Laura Bush, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, the Duchess of York and others.
We'll also share stories of September 11, of heartbreak and heroism and healing. And we're going to have some special songs tonight from two very special singers, Cher and Celine Dion.
With us to open proceedings is Lisa Beamer. Her husband Todd was one of the heroes of Flight 93. He's the man who told his passengers, "Let's roll." She was pregnant with their third child when he died.
She will be our first guest following the remarks made by the president.
The president should be approaching the podium shortly. There he is, on Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty behind him. He'll talk for about, we understand, seven to eight minutes, and then we'll be back.
Here is President Bush.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good evening. A long year has passed since enemies attacked our country. We've seen the images so many times, they are seared on our souls, and remembering the horror, reliving the anguish, re-imagining the terror is hard and painful.
For those who lost loved ones, it's been a year of sorrow, of empty places, of newborn children who will never know their fathers here on earth.
For members of our military, it's been a year of sacrifice and service far from home. For all Americans, it has been a year of adjustment, of coming to terms with the difficult knowledge that our nation has determined enemies and that we are not invulnerable to their attacks.
Yet in the events that have challenged us, we've also seen the character that will deliver us.
We've seen the greatness of America in airline passengers who defied their hijackers and ran a plane into the ground to spare the lives of others.
We've seen the greatness of America in rescuers who rushed up flights of stairs toward peril, and we continue to see the greatness of America in the care and compassion our citizens show to each other.
September the 11th, 2001 will always be a fixed point in the life of America. The loss of so many lives left us to examine our own. Each of us was reminded that we are here only for a time. And these counted days should be filled with things that last and matter: love for our families, love for our neighbors and for our country, gratitude for life and to the giver of life.
We resolved a year ago to honor every last person lost.
We owe them remembrance, and we owe them more.
We owe them and their children, and our own, the most enduring monument we can build, a world of liberty and security, made possible by the way America leads and by the way Americans lead our lives.
The attack on our nation was also an attack on the ideals that make us a nation. Our deepest national conviction is that every life is precious, because every life is the gift of a creator who intended us to live in liberty and equality.
More than anything else, this separates us from the enemy we fight. We value every life. Our enemies value none, not even the innocent, not even their own.
And we seek the freedom and opportunity that give meaning and value to life.
There is a line in our time, and in every time, between those who believe that all men are created equal and those who believe that some men and women and children are expendable in the pursuit of power. There is a line in our time and in every time between the defenders of human liberty and those who seek to master the minds and souls of others.
Our generation has now heard history's call, and we will answer it.
America has entered a great struggle that tests our strength and even more our resolve. Our nation is patient and steadfast. We continue to pursue the terrorists in cities and camps and caves across the Earth. We are joined by a great coalition of nations to rid the world of terror. And we will not allow any terrorist or tyrant to threaten civilization with weapons of mass murder.
Now and in the future, Americans will live as free people, not in fear and never at the mercy of any foreign plot or power.
This nation has defeated tyrants and liberated death camps, raised this lamp of liberty to every captive land. We have no intention of ignoring or appeasing history's latest gang of fanatics trying to murder their way to power. They are discovering, as others before them, the resolve of a great country and a great democracy.
In the ruins of two towers, under a flag unfurled at the Pentagon, at the funerals of the lost, we have made a sacred promise to ourselves and to the world: We will not relent until justice is done and our nation is secure.
What our enemies have begun, we will finish.
I believe there's a reason that history has matched this nation with this time. America strives to be tolerant and just. We respect the faith of Islam, even as we fight those whose actions defile that faith. We fight not to impose our will, but to defend ourselves and extend the blessings of freedom.
We cannot know all that lies ahead. Yet we do know that God has placed us together in this moment to grieve together, to stand together, to serve each other and our country. And the duty we have been given, defending America and our freedom is also a privilege we share.
We're prepared for this journey. And our prayer tonight is that God will see us through and keep us worthy.
Tomorrow is September the 12th. A milestone has passed, and a mission goes on.
Be confident; our country is strong.
And our cause is even larger than our country. Ours is the cause of human dignity, freedom guided by conscience and guarded by peace.
This ideal of America is the hope of all mankind. That hope drew millions to this harbor. That hope still lights our way. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it.
May God bless America.
KING: President George W. Bush speaking on Ellis Island, the harbor of New York. He will address the United Nations tomorrow, you will see it on CNN.
You're watching a special two-hour special edition of LARRY KING LIVE on this America Remembers day, 9/11/02.
The lady in the harbor stands strong.
We begin with Lisa Beamer. She is in her hometown of Princeton, New Jersey. Lisa's husband Todd was one of the heroes of hijacked Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. She's the author of the inspirational new book, "Let's Roll: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage." It is the number-one best seller on the "New York Times" list.
With us in our New York bureau is a Lisa attached to a Lisa forever, Lisa Jefferson. She's the Verizon customer service supervisor who spoke with Todd Beamer and prayed with him before the passenger rebellion on Flight 93.
And earlier today, she was given the Faithful Hero Award by the American Bible Society.
Lisa Jefferson will join us in a moment.
Lisa Beamer, what was today like for you?
LISA BEAMER, HUSBAND TODD WAS ONE OF FLIGHT 93 HEROES: Well, it was certainly a day of looking back and thinking through each moment, what was going on a year ago. It was a time of being thankful that we've made it through a year, and all the lessons that I feel like I've learned personally, and the growth that I've had; and to look around at the people that have been placed in my life to support me and help me and just be thankful for them. And also, I guess a time to look a little bit forward and say, where do we go from here?
KING: It's a very sad day?
BEAMER: It was a very sad day, one that is a little unique, being shared with the nation, because we're all grieving on different levels.
But a sad day to remember where our family was a year ago and to know that from here into the future, we won't be able to say a year ago, what were we doing with Todd, because it seems now more than a year removed from us. And that's a sad thing to let go of.
KING: What did you think of what the president had to say?
BEAMER: You know, I really liked when he talked about this being a time for introspection and sort of looking at what we do and why we do it and numbering our days and making sure that the time that we have here is used wisely.
We have 3,000 names scrolling across the bottom of our screen right now. People who had dreams left undone and goals left unfulfilled. But the things that were valuable that they actually accomplished were the lives that they touched, the faith they had. And, you know, those were the things that were really important.
And just -- I look at this day for me, and hopefully for other people, as a time to really evaluate what we've lived for and what we're doing here and making sure that it's something that has eternal value.
KING: Did you think about going to Shanksville today?
BEAMER: I did. I really went back and forth with that decision, and ultimately decided not to go. My children couldn't participate, they're too little. And I really wanted to be with them today, and I wanted to just have a normal day with them, with getting them to school and gymnastics classes and all the things they do in a normal day.
So that was good for us, just to sort of be a family today and do the things that we would have done if this were any other day.
KING: You've been now considered, with this book and everything, a role model for many people. Is this kind of a burden for you? I mean, people look to you for comfort, and you show such inner strength when you appear in the media. Is that a little bit of a burden?
BEAMER: I guess it's an unexpected thing that has come out of this year. I just try to live every day from the core of me, which says that, you know, it's not so much about my strength or even my faith, but where I get my resolve and my ability to take another step each day is from the God that I know, the God who loves me, the God who's in charge of my little life and the events of the world as a whole, and just knowing that he loves me and he's all powerful are the two things that I need to know to trust him to take the next step with him.
And, you know, if people can draw strength and hope from that, I'm honored and I'm blessed to be a part of that.
KING: Did you get any psychological help this year, or did you depend mostly on your church?
BEAMER: No, I have a lot of help. I have a counselor that I see every week who's been invaluable to me and I have a support group of other 9/11 families that I've met with on a weekly basis who have also been just an invaluable resource of support. And we give each other ideas of how to handle all sorts of strange things that come into our lives now, and just very practical help.
I have a friend Jill (ph) who I get together with once a week with her and her kids for dinner. And just helping each other and those times during the day when our daddies aren't coming home, so at least we have each other to lean on. And there's been a lot of people like that in my life this year.
KING: Are you thrilled by the success of the book? Surprised a little?
BEAMER: You know, writing a book wasn't anything I ever wanted to do. And I've never sought to be, you know, a best-selling author. And I don't think it's anything that I did myself from my own skills and abilities.
But, again, I just have looked at this year as an opportunity to hopefully be able to grow in my own personal spiritual development and maturity. And if I can help other people do the same thing, then I'm just am amazed to be able to be a part of something like that.
KING: Now let's go back to that terrible day and your association with this other guest who's in our studio, Lisa Jefferson. Oddly enough, you're both named Lisa.
Would you tell us first, Lisa Beamer, your first contact with Lisa Jefferson?
BEAMER: I spoke with Lisa the Saturday morning after September 11. She had given United Airlines her home number and told them that I could call her. And I did immediately as soon as I got that information. So, it was Saturday morning. I guess it was the 16th or 17th.
And I called her at her house and immediately started crying as I introduced myself. And just like she was for Todd, you know, I was very emotional during that conversation, but she was just calm and waiting for me, and giving me every piece of information I asked for. And, certainly, the same support that she offered to Todd she offered to me that day.
KING: Lisa, you were on duty that morning, right, as a supervisor?
LISA JEFFERSON, RECEIVED CALL FROM TODD BEAMER BEFORE CRASH: Yes, that's correct.
KING: And is that a GTE call that came through? He called from the plane?
JEFFERSON: He called from the plane.
KING: And he gets the operator.
KING: Did not want to call his house?
JEFFERSON: I had asked him, did he want me to place his call through to his wife for him. He told me that he didn't want me to put him through to her in case he didn't have to. He had hoped on landing that plane safely. And he told me if I didn't make it, would I please call her and let her know how much he loved her and his family.
KING: And what was that conversation like?
JEFFERSON: Todd was very calm when I took the call over. I had taken the call over from a representative that appeared to be traumatized. He was very calm and he made me doubt the severity of the call.
The information that he was giving me, I was looking at our screen at the same time and I realized it was correct. And from everything I could hear around me, this was actually a hijacking situation that was taking place.
KING: The thing that alarmed you was he was so calm?
JEFFERSON: Yes, exactly.
KING: So you questioned the veracity of the call.
KING: What did he say?
JEFFERSON: He told me that three people had taken over the flight, two had knives and had locked themselves into the cockpit, and one had a bomb strapped wound his waist.
KING: Did you tell him about the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?
JEFFERSON: No I did not, because I didn't know at that time.
KING: You didn't know?
KING: So you're totally in the dark here.
KING: You're talking to a man on a hijacked plane. Most hijacked planes land, right?
KING: So what did he say?
JEFFERSON: Well, the reason I didn't know -- I just heard about the two planes that had crashed into the World Trade Center.
KING: So you did hear about them?
JEFFERSON: Yes. And as I proceeded out of my office, that's when I was stopped by the representative to take over the call from Todd.
KING: So you had no idea other than you know something...
JEFFERSON: That's correct.
KING: Were you suspicious that this plane was going to try to hit something?
JEFFERSON: I had that feeling, yes, I did.
KING: But you didn't relay that to him?
JEFFERSON: No I didn't, because I didn't want to relay him any incorrect information, and I didn't know exactly what was going on myself.
KING: Was he scared?
JEFFERSON: He did not appear to be afraid at all. No. He raised his voice slightly when the plane took a dive twice and he thought they were going down. He raised his voice and said, we're going down, we're going down -- no, wait, I think we're coming back up, I think we're OK now. That happened twice. And I could hear the commotion in the background.
KING: And he gave you his wife's number?
JEFFERSON: He gave me her name and number. And when he asked me to recite "The Lord's Prayer" with him, he said, "Lisa." And when I answered the phone, I had answered the phone as Mrs. Jefferson. So I thought that was strange, because I had not given him my first name.
And I said, yes, Todd?
And he said, oh, that's my wife's name.
And he said, that's my name, too.
And he said, oh my God. Then he gave me his home number, and he asked me if he didn't make it, would I please call her for him.
KING: And you recited "The Lord's Prayer" with him?
JEFFERSON: Yes, we recited "The Lord's Prayer."
KING: What led to "Let's roll"?
JEFFERSON: I think after we recited "The Lord's Prayer" that was a tool that he was looking for, and that just gave him the strength and the courage to do what he needed to do, because at that point he had told me that they all had a plan, and that they were about to jump the guy with the bomb.
KING: The other passengers and him?
KING: Did he hear any commotion on the plane?
JEFFERSON: Yes, I heard all the commotion.
KING: What did you hear? People yelling?
JEFFERSON: Ladies screaming, men hollering. There was a flight attendant sitting next to him. I could hear her very clearly. And just a lot of background noise and commotion, a lot of yelling.
KING: Were any announcements made to the passengers from the flight deck?
JEFFERSON: No, not that I could hear. KING: And so what led to "Let's roll"? Take me up to the minute.
JEFFERSON: After we said "The Lord's Prayer," the plane took another dive. And Todd said they had a plan. The next thing he said, "Are you ready? OK, let's roll."
And that's the last I heard from him.
KING: Did the phone go dead, or did he leave the phone?
JEFFERSON: No, the phone was still open. I held the line for about 15 additional minutes.
KING: What did you hear?
JEFFERSON: Nothing. It was silent. It was silent. Hoping that someone would come back to the plane -- to the phone. At that point we had heard over the radio that the plane had just crashed.
KING: What, then, did you do? You had to be emotionally whacked.
JEFFERSON: I was by that point. I was still holding onto the phone, and they actually had to come up to me and tell me to release the line because that was his plane.
And after I released the line, I just couldn't believe that the plane had actually crashed because we had so much hope that they would be able to land safely.
KING: Lisa Beamer, why do you think he didn't want to be connected to you?
BEAMER: I think he was just trying to get help, and he knew that I wouldn't be able to help him. I think he didn't want to upset me if there was a way he could figure out a way out of it, which was so much Todd, to figure out a way out.
And I think he was just trying to go to a route that he thought would be helpful for himself and the other passengers.
And that wasn't me, it was Lisa Jefferson.
KING: From what Lisa Jefferson tells us, does that sound like the Todd you knew?
BEAMER: It does.
When I spoke to her on Saturday morning, I had already sort of received a transcript of the call, so I knew what had transpired as far as the facts.
But I really wanted to hear from Lisa what Todd's demeanor was like. And she, as she stated tonight, just told me he was so calm and so, just at peace, even in that scary situation. And I'm sure there were many times there was fear in his voice.
But, you know, the characteristics that he displayed to her were the characteristics of the Todd that I knew and the Todd that I loved and the Todd that I trusted with my life and the life of my family. And I'm just so proud of how he was able to, even in the worst time, rely on his faith and rely on his love for us and pull through and do the right thing.
KING: When did the two of meet, Lisa Jefferson?
JEFFERSON: Lisa and I first met on the "Oprah" show, we first met in person.
KING: They brought you together on "Oprah"?
KING: What was that like to meet her in the green room, I guess?
JEFFERSON: Well, we had talked so much over the phone, it was like two girlfriends just meeting again after a while. It was very -- it wasn't emotional because it was like we had already talked about everything.
So at that point, we just talked about our families.
KING: Little odd, Lisa Beamer, that you're both named Lisa?
BEAMER: Yes it is. God works that way, I think, sometimes, little coincidences.
KING: Have you been together, now, on other occasions?
JEFFERSON: A few award banquets, yes, we have.
KING: Did you need psychological help?
JEFFERSON: Yes, I am in therapy weekly now.
KING: Because, what happened to you after this? You're a mother, too, right?
JEFFERSON: Yes. I think the emotional stress, the more I replayed that call over in my mind, it creates emotional stress. And that's what I just haven't been able to deal with yet.
KING: What does your husband do?
JEFFERSON: He works for Verizon AirFone also.
KING: Oh, he does?
KING: Your children are how old?
JEFFERSON: 9 and 7.
KING: Boy and a girl?
KING: And yours, Lisa Beamer, are how old now?
BEAMER: 4, 2 and 8 months.
KING: All right. How did you, Lisa Jefferson, deal with your children in the aftermath of this and today?
JEFFERSON: I haven't been able to talk to my children directly about this. My husband has spoken to them about this.
KING: You can't emotionally do it?
JEFFERSON: No, no. It's still very hard. It doesn't seem like it's been a year; seems like it's been yesterday for me.
KING: You're still not over this?
JEFFERSON: No, no.
KING: Has today been tough for you?
JEFFERSON: Yes, it has. I'm hoping tomorrow will be a new start for me.
KING: And you with your children, Lisa Beamer?
BEAMER: My children are a lot smaller so, you know, with my oldest son I've definitely started to have conversations about the truth of what happened on the plane, and some conversations that you would never want to have with a 4-year-old about what really bad people can do.
But my goal this year has just been to provide them with as much security and as much love as I can. And they're doing very well, but I know that, you know, over the course of their development, we will go back to this many, many times.
But my goal now is just to remind them every day of who Todd was and how much he loved them and the things that he did with them every day, and just keep that person alive for them as much as I can.
KING: You two will be forever linked.
Thank you, Lisa Beamer. Lisa's book is "Let's Roll: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage." A national runaway best seller.
And Lisa Jefferson, still with Verizon? JEFFERSON: Yes, I am.
KING: Still taking calls?
JEFFERSON: I'm the manager of the center.
KING: So when we say, I want to speak to the supervisor, we get you.
JEFFERSON: That's correct.
KING: And Lisa Jefferson, earlier today, was given the Faithful Hero Award by the American Bible Society.
You're watching a two-hour edition of LARRY KING LIVE on this one-year anniversary of an American tragedy.
When we take a short moment and then come back with the first lady of the United States, don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDI GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Vincent Abadi (ph). Lawrence Christopher Able (ph). Ramona Abraham (ph). William F. Abrahamson (ph). Richard Anthony Acedo (ph). Jesus Asavedo Rescond (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We've seen a lot of first lady Laura Bush today, lending the president her support, sharing her special brand of comfort with the country.
Mrs. Bush sat down with me at the White House shortly before today's anniversary, and I began by asking her about her husband declaring this day Patriot's Day and whether she thought there should be a special observance every year.
LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: Well, I don't know about that. I hope so. I like the idea of Patriot's Day. But today I think really ends up being a day of remembrance for us, for everybody, for all Americans. And, certainly, it's still a day of mourning.
KING: So we can't call it a -- ever a holiday, is it? It's...
L. BUSH: No, I wouldn't call it a holiday. But it's a day to celebrate the lives of the people who were lost and the people who helped in any way they could that day on September 11 or after that. And there were so many people who helped. Children -- I get letters from children still today that talk about it and send pictures or send in their dollar for the Afghan Children's Fund.
KING: How often during this past year do you think about 9/11?
L. BUSH: Every day.
KING: Doesn't go away?
L. BUSH: Every single day. No.
KING: Is that not good?
L. BUSH: Well, I think it's good. I actually think that what happened was so horrendous that there isn't a way we can get over it. I don't think it's something that we'll get over. I think it's something that we will -- that time will heal. That certainly as time goes by, the wounds will heal some.
But at the same time, I think it was a day that we saw a handful of evil people do a terrible thing. And then we saw so many good people try to help, or literally sacrifice their lives for other people.
And so I just feel like it's a day that all of us, certainly every one of us who were alive on that day, will remember for the rest of our lives; maybe every day.
KING: What's it's been like to be married to someone who was not only affected by it, but has to take action dealing with it?
L. BUSH: Well, you know, I can't separate my husband, you know, the way he is has been as a husband to me for the 25 years we've been married from how he's been as president. The characteristics that he's shown that I think have made him a really good president during this time were the ones he's always had. He's very disciplined. He has to work on being patient, but he worked on it, and he is patient...
KING: Because he keeps saying, "I'm a patient man."
L. BUSH: That's right. He's just -- he's not a reactionary. He didn't react immediately; he took his time. And I have every confidence in him.
KING: You've told us in the past, and you've done a number of interviews since. I guess this is four or five, where you were and what was -- what happened, though, like, the weekend after? That was a Tuesday.
L. BUSH: That's right.
KING: What was it like? You were in Camp David.
L. BUSH: We went to Camp David, and we went with everyone, I guess you would call it the war council. I mean, it was the vice president and Secretary Rumsfeld and Secretary Powell, Condi Rice, John Ashcroft, their spouses, everyone's spouses.
And all the Cabinet met with Dr. Rice and Karen Hughes, I think, was there, and met during the days. And the spouses went for walks and we all met for every meal, the whole group. KING: Was it somber?
L. BUSH: It was somber. It was somber. I mean, I know you can remember what it was like that weekend after September 11. It was really -- people were very uncertain. We had no idea. We were still trying to grapple with even what had happened on the Tuesday before that, or the Monday before that. And that made it so that weekend was so difficult and very, very emotional.
At night, after they had met and we'd all had dinner together at one big table -- Camp David has a huge table, so we were all at the same table -- then John Ashcroft sat down at the piano and started playing the piano and Condi Rice, Dr. Rice started singing. And they sang hymns and patriotic songs and show tunes and everything. And it was a way for both of them, who both love music and are very musical themselves, to relax.
But it was also a way for all of us who sat around in the room together to have some sort of fellowship, really. It was fellowship with each other. And every person there, just like I think every American after September 11, wanted to be as constructive as they could possibly be.
And these were the people, my husband first of all, I would say, who had the burden of the response on their shoulders, and wanted that response to be just, and the right response.
KING: Events change us.
L. BUSH: Mm-hmm.
KING: How has it changed you?
L. BUSH: I think it's probably made me more serious, too.
KING: That's what Lynn Cheney said.
L. BUSH: As I look toward September -- last September 11, that week had been really, in a lot of ways, the culmination of what I thought it would be like to be the wife of the president, live in the White House. We'd had the state dinner on -- the beautiful state dinner for Vicente Fox on the Wednesday night before. And, of course, that relationship, our relationship, the United States' relationship, with Mexico is a very, very important relationship for us, especially, having always lived in a border state. And it was a beautiful evening, like all the state dinners always are, just an elegant evening at the White House.
And then on that Saturday was the national -- first National Book Festival. It was something my office and I had worked on with the Library of Congress almost since my husband was inaugurated. It was a beautiful day. And thousands of people showed up to get the autograph of their favorite writer or to hear somebody read.
And then, that day, September 11, I was getting in the car to go to Capitol Hill to brief the Senate Education Committee on the results of the summit of early childhood education that I'd had in the summer.
And all of those events were very, very happy. They were wonderful events. I still look back at them and think they were. But they were the sort of events that I expected.
KING: This, what four years or eight are going to be like.
L. BUSH: That I hoped for.
And then, of course, September 11. And I think because of -- or, you know, what happened on September 11, I really saw the seriousness of this job, of my husband's job.
KING: Very different from first lady of Texas.
L. BUSH: Very different.
KING: You, if memory serves me correct, you were with Senator Kennedy that morning.
L. BUSH: That's right.
KING: What was that like? Here's a man who's had nothing but great and terrible things happen in his family, and you're with him on the most terrible day for this nation.
L. BUSH: That's right. Well, it was very, you know, very ironic in some ways for me, because the other day that I remembered that was such a stunning and shocking day for our country was the day when his brother had been assassinated.
KING: And now you're with him.
L. BUSH: And then I was with him for this next day.
KING: It is ironic.
L. BUSH: It is. And I know, of course, my parents' age, generation, you know, now have three days like that: Pearl Harbor, certainly, and then the assassination of the president, and September 11.
KING: What did you talk about?
L. BUSH: We talked about very -- really, in some ways, mundane things. I think in a lot of ways he was just trying to keep, you know, to comfort me, to just keep things going in a smooth, smooth way.
And so we talked about the Capitol. We talked about the offices. His dog was there. His dog goes to work with him. And I love animals, and his dog is a very sweet dog who kept his head on my knee. And there was something very comforting about that.
KING: What was it like to make the first first lady radio address? L. BUSH: I liked that a lot. I'm sort of surprised, to be perfectly frank, that it was the first first lady radio address.
KING: Yes, one wonders why. We've had some dynamic first ladies.
L. BUSH: I was kind of surprised about it.
But, you know, it gave me an opportunity to talk about Afghanistan and the plight of women and children in Afghanistan under the Taliban.
On September 11, or shortly after September 11, all of us as Americans saw once again how important our values and our freedoms are, how precious they are and how precious our country is. And then, when we looked at what we have and what we took for granted, and contrasted that with what women and children in Afghanistan had, the contrast was so extreme that even when I gave the -- I mean, after the radio address -- shortly after the radio address I went shopping, and the women who work in the cosmetic counter at a department store thanked me for that.
So I think it was something that especially women saw around our country, and that is the children, little girls, being denied an education, and women being denied the opportunity to even walk out of their house.
So, to have that chance to give the radio address was really a very meaningful time for me.
KING: Long before 9/11 Colin Powell led this drive for volunteerism, and it was going along fairly well. What's it been like since 9/11?
L. BUSH: Well, it's been huge. I just heard yesterday that the Peace Corps, for instance, has had 76,000 requests for applications...
KING: That's a record...
L. BUSH: ... for only 7,000 spots.
KING: That's probably a record since it started.
L. BUSH: Mm-hmm.
L. BUSH: And I like that. I love the idea of how Americans are looking for a meaningful way to live their lives. And in a lot of ways, I think that's how we can honor the lives of the people who were lost, by making our lives more meaningful.
KING: Are you very concerned about Iraq?
L. BUSH: Sure. I mean, I'm very concerned about a lot of things. I'm concerned about my husband and our country. But I also...
KING: That he may have to send boys to fight?
L. BUSH: I have a lot of confidence in my husband. And I know -- I know that he and his whole administration, that their first priority is to protect the lives of innocent people. And so I have a lot of confidence in them.
I also want to say, because you mentioned it, that I have a lot of confidence in our military. And all of us as Americans really need to remember to thank the military men and women who have been gone from their families for a long time, or who have put themselves in harm's way because of going to Afghanistan, and this war on terror.
KING: We tend, do we not, to forget?
L. BUSH: I think we forget.
KING: Veterans have largely often said they are the forgotten people in America. Why do you think that is; do you know?
L. BUSH: ... times seem easy and times seem, you know, that we really do take our freedom for granted. And we forget that so many people, from the very start of our country, have fought to protect the very freedoms we have now or had marched to protect the freedoms that we have now, or to give us the -- to make the Constitution and the Bill of Rights really fulfill its great promise.
KING: I asked you this once, and maybe the answer is -- do you still feel like a tenant here? Or now, after all this time, it's two years, like it's your place?
L. BUSH: Well, I feel like it's home. I mean, I call it home. Like, when we left of the ranch, which is our real home, I said, you know, we're going home, meaning home to the White House.
But in some ways I think you never stop feeling like a tenant because you're so aware of all the people who have been here before you. And you're so aware of the people who will come after you and how this house really symbolizes in so many ways the great history of our country, and all the men and women, not just the presidents and their spouses, but all the men and women who've done so much for our country.
KING: Do you talk to your mother-in-law a lot?
L. BUSH: I do talk to Bar pretty much. I went to Maine to see her a couple of times.
KING: How is she doing?
L. BUSH: She's doing great. She's terrific. I told her -- last weekend I was talking to her on the phone and told her that I had been to the dedication of the first Laura Bush Elementary School. I didn't call it "the first." I said, I've been to the dedication of the Laura Bush Elementary School.
KING: Like you're expecting more.
L. BUSH: And she said, I have six. She was letting me know she already had plenty that were Barbara Bush.
KING: And how's your father-in-law? He had that skin condition.
L. BUSH: Yes; he's doing well.
KING: Is that getting better?
L. BUSH: Yes, that was just that medicine they put on your skin to see if there's some spots they need to remove. He's doing great.
KING: Because they go out in the sun a lot.
L. BUSH: He does.
KING: As your husband does.
L. BUSH: Out on the boat.
KING: You worry about that?
L. BUSH: Yes, I want him to wear sunblock, and I hope all Americans do that too.
KING: Is there any issue of security -- you said how we tend to relax -- that concerns you a great deal? I mean, you get -- certainly your husband is privy to information that we can't give out -- so you know certain things...
L. BUSH: No, he doesn't give that information out to me, really.
L. BUSH: He doesn't, but -- not really. I mean, I want Americans to stay vigilant. I also want Americans to go about their lives and live their lives and go about their business in a very normal way. But it's really important, at a time like this, for everyone to be very vigilant.
KING: We only have a moment left, it is 9/11. Anything you want to say to children?
L. BUSH: I want to encourage parents to put their arms around their children and let their children know that they're safe, that they're safe at home, and safe in their schools.
And I hope that parents will really be very careful about what their children watch on television all around this anniversary, as well as all the time. Turn the TV off if you think it's something that will upset your child or upset you. It's a really good time, then, to put your arm around your child and read a story to him.
KING: Nothing like a hug.
L. BUSH: That's right. Absolutely.
KING: The first lady of the United States, Laura Bush.
We'll be right back on this special two-hour edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My mom was my best friend. She was my other half. Nothing could be taken that would be more valuable. My mother was my life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's times where I want to pick up the phone and talk to her and say, hi and say, what do you think about this? And I can't do that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My mother was a very beautiful, loving, giving...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She gave to her family, to her husband, to the community. And she is just -- was just amazing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was such a bright light, and I think that balanced the darkness that was on that flight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She just had this energy about her, this love of life. And she just said, go out and do it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought my mom and I would be together forever. So she's with me, just not in the physical sense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: At the top of the hour we'll meet the most immediate former first lady, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.
Joining us now from London is Sarah Ferguson, the duchess of York. It's always good to see Sarah. Her United States charity, Chances for Children, was located on the 101st floor of number one World Trade Center in the office space donated by Cantor Fitzgerald. Her rag doll, Little Red, sold as Chances for Children fund-raising item, was found lying in the dust and rubble at the base of One World Trade Center.
What was today like for you?
SARAH FERGUSON, OFFICES DESTROYED AT WTC: Well, I just woke up, and the girls and I work up together and we just went, you know, we've got to remember. You know, it's about thinking how lucky we are that we're here today, you know? KING: What's the status now of the charity? Your offices are gone; what happened?
FERGUSON: Well, thanks to Credit Suisse First Boston and then Michael Bloomberg, we now have regrouped the charity and we're starting again. And we're now rebuilding, not only in Afghanistan, but all over America, we're giving children a chance to dream and grow.
And we feel it's very strong because September 11 has really given us an opportunity to say, listen, OK, there's great devastation and great disaster but, you know what? We've got to give our children a place to have their dreams and a chance for them to know that there is a way forward and not -- it's not just devastation, there is a future.
KING: You were, as memory serves me, you were at "Good Morning America," right, the morning of the tragedy?
FERGUSON: I was, Larry, yes. I was just leaving "Good Morning America" studios on my way down to my office on the 101st floor. And John S. Sullivan (ph), who works for me, suddenly turned to me and said, look up at the screens, you know, this devastation is happening.
And I just really couldn't believe what with going on. I didn't really understand what was happening. I thought that air traffic control couldn't have made such a mistake. I didn't really think of terrorism.
And then, suddenly, the devastation hit and I just -- I simply was lost for words, and I didn't really know what we could do. The most important thing for me was to think, what happened to Cantor Fitzgerald, because we were lucky enough that Howard and Allison (ph) Lutnick had given us an office within Cantor Fitzgerald. And to think of all those people there, I just wanted to help, but I didn't know what to do. It was such a difficult position to be in.
KING: Did you lose any staff that day?
FERGUSON: Well, we didn't -- I didn't lose any immediate staff, Larry. But what we lost were so many good colleagues and so many friends, because we were part of the Cantor Fitzgerald family. And Howard Lutnick has been amazing over these months and all over these years to give us an office space.
And really, it's not about losing one person, it's about the teamwork and family unity of Cantor Fitzgerald that they've given us so much support. And so I guess we're part of Cantor Fitzgerald.
KING: Did you try to get down to the building?
FERGUSON: Well, I tried to, but I was told that it was just going to be -- it was not a thing to do, and the best thing I could do was get out of the way.
I wanted to go down and become -- you know, do something medical, or perhaps, you know, help at St. Vincent's or get out there and do something to help these people.
But I was told that the best thing I could do was just, like, not get in the way because I was probably going to be more hindrance.
And they were quite right, you know, because the best thing I could do was go away, regroup and try and raise funds to support the people and the victims and the families that needed the future support. And that's what we did.
KING: What did you do the rest of the day?
FERGUSON: Well, the rest of the day was about regrouping and thinking, OK, so this is the devastation that's hit. We need to think of a way of supporting and trying to get Chances for Children back together so we could find a way of, like, of supporting the families.
And so we went a couple of miles away. Were regrouped and we started the 9/11 Fund, which was to support the Cantor Fitzgerald Fund for Families.
KING: Well now, explain -- tell us how -- this little doll and how it was recovered, and what floor was it on?
FERGUSON: Well, Little Red is the symbol of Chances for Children. About eight years ago I decided the only way I could thank the American people for giving me back my life was to start a foundation to support the children of America.
So I drew a little logo, and she's called Little Red, and she sat on the 101st floor of the World Trade Center. And she sat in the window. And on the day of September 11 when the devastation hit, for some extraordinary reason a fireman found her in the rubble and pulled her out. And she was carried out in the helmet of a fireman.
And I looked at the television, and I just went, how can Little Red have survived such devastation? And for me, it was a symbol that I must continue to fight, not only for the children of the United States of America, but to give the children of Afghanistan a right to education, not only, you know, because at the moment, at that time, it was boys were being educated, not girls. And so, you know, if we're going to insist that Afghanistan doesn't repeat its past, we must educate girls and boys together. We must give them the right to be educated.
KING: What does Chances for Children specifically do?
FERGUSON: Chances for Children is about forgotten children, not just in the United States of America, but all over the world. It's about giving children the right to a better life. It's about taking children off the streets and saying, you know, it's OK to have dreams. And it's possible, even through the devastation, to have a chance, to have a life. And after September 11, we must try and give our children the right to a better future.
And I know Mrs. Bush is very supportive of that. We must go into these countries like Afghanistan and other countries and say, OK, let's educate, let's perhaps provide an education through computers or sewing machines, or whatever it might take. But let's support them to give them a better future.
KING: I know you were planning to go; are you going to go to Afghanistan?
FERGUSON: I hope so, Larry, very soon. It depends on the security. I don't want to waste security's time on my visit. So if I can get in there without creating too much havoc, then I will.
KING: Couple of other things. What was the mood in Great Britain today, which lost a lot of people on 9/11 in the United States in those buildings?
FERGUSON: Well, I mean, it's been quite extraordinary. Millions upon millions of British people have come out in support and respect for the many, many families and the widowers and many people that died in 9/11. And, I mean, there's been many church services.
And it's really important that the American people know that the British people are 100 percent behind them in every way. And, I mean, it's been quite extraordinary, the reaction in this country. There's no way we can get over there, all of us, to say, we are here with you, but we are.
KING: You're a mother, what do you recommend to mothers, to dealing with children about events like this?
FERGUSON: Well, for my children, Beatrice and Eugeneie, I say to them, don't turn the television screen off just because it's a devastation. Look at it, be aware of it and understand it, and go forward in trying to unite with compassion. Have communication between the families.
And I say to my girls, you know what? This is life. It's a terrible, terrible tragedy, but you know what? If you can just go with love every day to school, and understand more about giving love rather than giving war or giving arguments or, you know, heated discussions, just learn from this and go forward and say, you know what, if we unite, then maybe we can do something about this.
KING: And how about younger children? Would you allow them to see scenes like we've seen today?
FERGUSON: Well, you know, I think whether it's younger children or older children, I think it's just about a question of being honest, you know? I think if they see -- if they happen -- if younger children happen to see things on television, which they might do, then the most important thing you can do is try and explain to them in a very, very comforting and supportive way that this September 11 is today but, you know, with the right talking and the right communication, we can make a difference.
And I know even younger children, the most important thing is love. And if we can just hug them like the United Kingdom is hugging the United States right now, because we are. I mean, the United States needs a big embrace, not just from the U.K., but just from all over the world. It's time now for the United States to receive the embrace.
KING: Life goes on, Sarah, and we thank you very much.
Sarah Ferguson, the duchess of York. I know that America's second-home to you, and we'll see you on our shores soon.
FERGUSON: Well, Larry, I just wanted to say that it may be 3:00 in the morning, but I can't thank the United States enough for what they've done for me and my children. So anything I can do, I'm here.
KING: Sarah Ferguson, the duchess of York.
We're going to stay a short little break. We're only having one commercial, really, in each hour tonight on this two-hour special of LARRY KING LIVE.
The first lady is coming at the top of the hour, and next is Cher.
Don't go away.
KING: The Statue of Liberty on this sad night.
Cher is a very good friend to this show, and an entertainer with some very strong feelings about New York City.
We caught up with her recently in Cincinnati. She's on stop -- on Living Proof -- that's one of her stops on the farewell tour. She was just about to go on stage.
A true American diva, flaming red hair, jeweled face, the works, but she was ready to recall where she was one year ago.
CHER: I was in my bed. And I'd been going to court every day. And I just was up early, and I'd fallen asleep with the sound off on my television.
KING: So when you woke up, it was happening?
CHER: Yes. Actually, I was watching the BBC, and it was just -- it was just happening. I think that the first plane had just gone into the tower. And I -- you know, it didn't -- it didn't quite register to me, especially because there was no sound.
And I thought they were showing when the bomb went off, what, a couple of years ago. You know, it wasn't -- it wasn't making a connection.
KING: Do you have special feelings, Cher, for New York? CHER: Well, yes, I mean, I've lived there off and on my whole life since I was -- the first time I lived there I was 14. And I've, you know, I've made -- I've done a lot of work there. I've made a lot of friends there. I did "Moonstruck" there. I did my first play there.
I like the energy of the people. It's, you know, it's a very special town.
KING: Now you're going to sing a song called "Song for the Lonely." I heard this tune. It's a very upbeat kind of song.
Can you give me a little history of it, and why you're doing this selection?
CHER: Well, I had received this song, oh, about four or five months before September 11. And I was going to do it in this album. And I really loved it. You know, it was my favorite song on the album.
And after I recorded it, I -- I mean, it became my favorite song. And then after 9/11, I was listening to the album one day, and I started listening to that song, and all of a sudden it took on a completely different meaning because, when I listened to the words, oh, you know, when heroes fall in love and war, they live forever.
You know, before I thought of it as a love song. And then after I heard it, you know, it's very -- it's just very right for the occasion.
KING: It sure is. And you dedicated -- on the jacket on the album, "I'd like to dedicate the song `For the Lonely' to the courageous people of New York, especially the firefighters, police, Mayor Giuliani, Governor Pataki and my friend Liz." Who is that?
CHER: Yes, my friend Liz. Liz is my -- she works for Warner Brothers. And she is the, you know, head of publicity. And she works with me and Madonna and she is a -- just a died-in-the-wool New Yorker. And she loved this song so much. And she -- it just made her cry every time she heard it. And so that's why I dedicated it to her.
KING: What response do you get from audiences when you sing it?
CHER: I have to tell you, it's just unbelievable. I mean, you know, it's just the people -- it's the second song in the show, and the people start doing, you know, doing, you know, their fingers up in the air and they're -- they come so alive. It's really -- it's the first real emotional connection for us in the show.
KING: "Song for the Lonely." It's energized, inspiring, a tune that tells us we're not alone in tough times.
Cher performs it with her one-of-a-kind flair in this music video, dedicated to the courageous people of New York. (Cher singing "Song For the Lonely")
KING: This is the second hour of a two-hour special edition of LARRY KING LIVE on this 9/11. And that is a live shot of Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan.
Festivities took place today, and part of those festivities was our next guest, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, the former first lady of the United States.
What was it like reading those names?
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Oh Larry, it was such an emotional moment. You know, I read the names with a man who lost his brother. And we stood there together, and I was looking out at that crowd and I recognized some of the faces.
But so many of the people were holding pictures of their loved one, or they had a button with his face on, or -- It was a real time to just think about the losses that we suffered last year. It was so overwhelming, still, to realize that a year ago these hundreds and thousands of people just got up on a beautiful September morning to go to work, and were just murdered.
KING: Did you watch the president's speech?
CLINTON: I didn't get to see it, but I heard about it. And I heard it was extremely effective, very wonderful message for the country to have. A real sense of our unity and purpose with of course, the unbeatable backdrop of the Statue of Liberty right there on Ellis Island.
KING: What's the year been like for you?
CLINTON: It's been a year of extraordinary pressures and stresses, because of the -- and losses that we suffered here. So many people who, not only lost their family members, their colleagues, their friends, people who were still grievously injured, people who have lost their jobs and haven't gotten them back. People still don't have their apartments back to live in. That great huge hole in the heart of the city, that reminds us what happened every single day. And you know, all the holes in the hearts of so many New Yorkers.
I mean, I was honored to represent New York when I was elected, and every single day I felt so privileged. But this brought home the sense of the responsibility and the greatness of this place.
KING: Did any of their reaction, this city, your adopted city, surprise you?
CLINTON: No. No. You know, we never know what any of us will do until we're tested.
KING: Never know.
CLINTON: You could sit and talk big, and you can expect, you know, what might happen, but you don't really know. I don't know that any city in the world could have responded as magnificently as New York did. I have no doubt that our firefighters and police officers and emergency workers saved literally thousands of lives.
But in addition to the heroism and the bravery that we know about, there were countless other acts that we're only learning about still, people who aren't here to tell them for themselves. We also knew of, and learned of, so many acts of kindness and generosity. It wasn't just the heroism. It was the every day act of taking care of each other.
KING: Are you supportive of the president's homeland security concept and all that's occurred in that area since?
CLINTON: I certainly am. You know, back, I think, early November of last year, I proposed legislation to get money where it's needed, which is to the front-line soldiers who defend us here at home. We've done a great job getting resources to our men and women in uniform and our military, and they're doing magnificently.
I don't think we've done enough yet for our firefighters and police officers and others. We need to make sure that they get the resources they need to be able to do the job we're expecting them to do. There's a lot of work to be done. People ask me all the time, well, are we safer, senator?
Yes. I think we are. I think we are safer. Are we as safe as we can be or should be? Not yet.
KING: Did you like the idea of reorganization in one head office?
CLINTON: Well, I think that there's some benefits to be gained. But it is going to be hard to merge all the different agencies together. A lot of people who studied this problem say that it's something we need to do, and I do support it.
But I don't think we should think it's a panacea. It is going take a lot of hard work to break down these bureaucratic barriers, to get people to be more efficient. We don't even have a modern computer system in the government.
You know, one of the reasons we had some of the problems is that we didn't pay for and install in the government the kind of computer capacity that most businesses of any size have today in America. And they don't talk to each other, they don't share information with each other. Yes, some of it is because before last year we didn't think we needed to do that.
You know, if you and I had been talking on September 10 last year and I would have said, you know Larry, I think we need to stop everybody as they go on the airlines; in fact, we need to ask them to take their shoes off, you would have looked at me like I was crazy.
We are now willing to do things, and that includes reorganizing our government, giving our front-line defenders the resources they need, and getting up to speed with the equipment and infrastructure that's required.
KING: In the aftermath of this, we have Iraq looming, and where does Senator Clinton stand?
CLINTON: Well, I stand with the majority of my colleagues right now, in recognizing and acknowledging that Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction should not be said in the same sentence. We have to separate him from the capacity to obtain and use such terrible weaponry against his neighbors or anyone in the world. It is also important to try to do this with some international support.
Not because we needed it militarily. We have the strongest military in the world. We've proved that time and time again -- Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan. If we have a mission that is clear, we can fulfill it.
But we have to be wary of the unintended consequences of military action. We have to make sure that, you know, our allies in the region are willing to stand with us, both for logistical and strategic reasons, but also because after the fact, we have got to have support to, you know, do what's needed.
KING: Are you open to listening to the president's point?
CLINTON: Absolutely. In fact, I'm very pleased that he's going to go to United Nations tomorrow. We're all open and we're really waiting for the president and the administration, both to lay out their case in more specifics. And to lay out their strategy, so we can ask some of the questions that need to be asked.
KING: Is it essential that Osama bin Laden's whereabouts, or if there's an "about," be known?
CLINTON: What's essential is that we continue the eradication of the al Qaeda network. If he is still alive, and if he is functioning, then it's essential that we prevent him from masterminding any other terrorist actions.
But this network is bigger than one man. He has been the key to it. I mean, he's really been the driving force and charismatic leader. I don't like the idea that he may still be at large. That doesn't make me comfortable.
But we also have demonstrated our ability to roll up some of the terrorist cells, to obtain information, to act on that information. So eventually, I hope we know what's happened to him, if he's still alive. I hope we're able to, you know, bring a end to his ability to lead this network.
KING: Were you surprised on this program last week, when your husband said was consumed by Osama bin Laden?
CLINTON: No, I'm not surprised at all, because I saw it firsthand.
You know, we can look back now and say, well, why, before September 11 of last year, you know, didn't we know more, do more, find out how we can prevent this? And certainly, everyone I know in this administration, the prior administration, going back years is an expert now at saying, what if this, what if that?
But the fact is that we were able to do some things, but we didn't have the international support. We didn't have the commitment as a nation to really make this the priority it needs to be. And September 11 changed so many things.
KING: Couple of other things. How do you think Laura Bush is doing?
CLINTON: Oh, fabulously. You know, I'm very impressed by the way she has helped to pull the country together. Her emphasis on what we need to do for our children is exactly right. She and I were together yesterday at the Smithsonian for the opening of the exhibition that the Smithsonian has put together about 9/11, and I'm very impressed and, you know, very grateful to her.
KING: Anything surprised you about being in the Senate?
CLINTON: Oh my gosh. Well, before September 11, what was most difficult was trying to get a handle on my schedule. It was so hard to show up and not know whether we would have votes, and whether we were going to go to this committee meeting or that.
But since 9/11, what's been overwhelming, is just the obligation that I feel to do everything I possibly can to help individuals, to help the city and the state, to do whatever is required to take care of national security and homeland security.
KING: We're going -- we've now called it Patriot's Day. Are we going to do something every year, do you think?
CLINTON: I hope so.
KING: What's proper? Not a holiday.
CLINTON: No, it's not a holiday. It's not a time for celebrating. It's not a time for goofing off. It's not a time for, you know, vacationing. It's a time for remembrance, and a time for resolution about what we do going forward.
Today was a profound combination of looking backwards and looking forwards. And one of the things that has so impressed me about so many families -- and I thank you for running all their names across the bottom of their screen; that means a lot to family member -- but what has also impressed me is how they often so often say to me, we just don't want this to happen to any other family.
KING: Always good seeing you, Senator.
CLINTON: Always good to be with you, Larry. Thanks.
KING: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former first lady, Democrat of New York. Attorney General John Ashcroft is next. But before him, a memory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was my first-born. He was my only son. He was my pride and joy. I just remember driving to my daughter-in- law's house screaming, no, no, no, this can't be happening. And then, of course, we waited to hear from him, and we never did.
And the world is missing a gem, even a little baby that we have, her name is Ali (ph), she was named after Alan, and no one could take his place. But she's so beautiful and so a sweet.
I wish I could trade places with him any day and let him live his life. And we miss him. We miss him very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Attorney General John Ashcroft, the man some called the Bush administration's heat shield, has been a frequent guest on this program. We interviewed him shortly before the poignant anniversary day.
Given the tremendous attention on Ground Zero in New York, I wondered if he thought that the terrorist strike at the Pentagon was being little overlooked.
JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, it shouldn't be. Those individuals who lost their lives there, individuals who are left without family, those who are maimed, who are injured, some of those who escaped death carry within themselves not just emotional scars, but physical scars.
I know the Pentagon had special meaning to me, because I was in the air when these things happened, and we came back and landed one the few planes, I guess, that landed at National Airport. And one of the few things I could see approaching Washington was the smoke coming up -- billowing up out of the Pentagon.
So there's tangibility about that, you know, an eyewitness sort of situation for me, that I knew that was a situation, a real devastation.
KING: You landed in National -- out there.
KING: Where were you flying from?
ASHCROFT: Well, we were flying to Milwaukee, and we had just passed over Grand Rapids. We were starting our descent to Lake Michigan when the folks said, I need to call the control center -- command center and Justice, and I tried to get them to turn the plane around in the air.
They said, we don't have enough fuel to get back to Washington. I said, land in Milwaukee, let's get back in the air, we have got to get back as soon as possible. We did get back in the air. We were delayed in the air. We had to go into a holding pattern and await a fighter escort. But we then did land at Washington National.
So I -- literally, we came in in a way that gave us a tragic bird's-eye, sort of, awareness of that.
KING: It must have been unreal?
ASHCROFT: Yes. That's exactly right. I think there are a lot of Americans, certainly I one of them, wished I could have awaken, and learned it was a dream. But unfortunately, we have awakened in a new way, in America. But we have also learned that it was not a dream. It was reality.
KING: Your Solicitor General's wife, who appeared on this program many times, died on that plane. In fact she was coming out to a conference that I at in Los Angeles. I know you knew her quite well, and him. Well, when you learned that, that hit you?
ASHCROFT: Yeah. We had been to dinner, it think, the proceeding week at their house. There was a whole group of us had been there. She had been very much an advocate for me and my confirmation.
KING: Where was she?
ASHCROFT: And she was a person who grabbed life by the horns and took it -- took life for a ride, so to speak. And to think that she called Ted a couple of times in the process, when she knew, and he knew, the kind of tragedy that awaited. That's unspeakable. And very frankly, Ted has had a tremendous year. I don't know whether you followed. He was -- he had eight appearances before the Supreme Court. He won all eight cases.
As solicitor general, his staff there, won a higher ratio of case, and they took a big load of difficult cases, than any solicitor general staff in recent history. And it was a year that would be a crowning year. But you know the loss that he suffered that day, is just unspeakable. And I talked to him merely -- well, maybe two days ago, and I asked him, Ted, how are you doing? He's a game fighter. He really is. But what a wonderful lady.
KING: Let's touch some bases. Are we safer now, than a year ago?
ASHCROFT: We have improved our situation substantially. We still have a long way to go, in protecting our borders properly. We've taken the steps to eliminate risks in regard to immigration, that was not carefully done. But we're only at the high-risk end. We -- I issued some new regulation that requires fingerprinting, and that we keep track of the people who come in at a much higher level, but while that should be universal, it's only for a limited population, but we will be expanding that.
The Congress has mandated it. It's the right thing to do. The FBI has been reorganized. The FBI has always been the best agency in the world to reconstruct a crime scene, to tell you what happened and how it happened, present the evidence in court. But telling you what happened and how it happened, when you lose 3,000 people, that's not good enough. We need not just to investigate and prosecute, we need to be able to anticipate and prevent. And so we've moved the FBI dramatically into the business of -- of being able to foresee, by gathering intelligence and connecting the dots. Just the way the CIA connects the dots.
KING: In any emergency, complaints arise, and Steve Hatfill is the former Army biomedical researcher who is publicly described by you, as a person of interest in the anthrax matter, who is now -- says he had nothing to do with it, but that you owe him a job -- because he lost his job at LSU. I haven't heard your comments on this.
ASHCROFT: LSU has announced that they independently made a decision to -- not to go forward with the program to which he made reference. But I'm not going to comment on any investigation, except to say I believe we continue to make progress on the anthrax investigation. I'm grateful of the work that the FBI has done.
KING: Is he still a person of interest?
ASHCROFT: I don't think it would be appropriate for me to change the way I would describe him.
KING: Well said, because you're saying it without saying it. And he's still a person of interest.
What about Mr. Padilla, the Ashcroft -- you went live to the United States from Moscow to announce his arrest. Called a known terrorist, where does that stand?
ASHCROFT: Well, he is being held as an illegal combatant. He is held subject to the president's power to defend the United States in time of war. As I said at the time, he is a person we knew to have trained in the training camps of al Qaeda, or with al Qaeda, as special training in explosives, with an enhanced or additional learning as it relates to radiology or the -- dirty bomb sort of techniques.
We have information that he discussed the detonation of a dirty bomb and that kind of project in the United States, so he is being detained an enemy combatant.
ASHCROFT: Someone who fought against the United States, an illegal enemy combatant.
KING: Why can't he see his lawyer? ASHCROFT: You know, people in time of war are not detained in the civil justice system. They're not held subject to charges. They're held subject to the outcome of the war. This has been true in virtually -- in all wars that I know of. Certainly been true for every president...
KING: There have always been combatants like this...
KING: ... held in wars?
ASHCROFT: ... prisoners of war, for instance, are combatants. They have a different standing, generally, because they are legal combatants. But for those who don't observe the rules of war and are illegal combatants, they can be detained as well.
KING: Were you happy with the John Walker resolution?
ASHCROFT: I think we came to the right conclusion there.
KING: You signed off on that?
ASHCROFT: I did.
KING: That was apt decision, and his sentence is apt.
ASHCROFT: Well, my view is, in these cases you have to look at the national interest of the United States overall. And you have to look at the case. And I believe the case, the sentence reflects the seriousness of what he did and also protects the national interest.
KING: You told me early on how much you liked this job. That was before 9/11. After 9/11, you told me how you were sort of caught in everything,
But now 9/11 is a year -- does this job still hold the same (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for you, because you take a lot of hits. People get angry at every decision you make.
KING: ... fishbowl.
ASHCROFT: You know, first on the hits. There are people who are carry weapons in deserts and putting their lives on the line every day, and seeking to root out the hard-core terrorists that inhabit the caves and nooks and crannies of the world. And they're the ones who are subjected to hits. I mean, if someone in a debate in the United States, challenges what I've done or what I've thought or what I have said, that's a tribute to our success in protecting freedom. So the real hit taking isn't for people like me.
When we take, if that's a hit, when we take that hit, it's tribute to the fact that America is free and open, and vigorous debate about what we do is the life blood of who we are. There's a sense in which it is an honor to serve the country anytime.
But obviously when times are tough, it is a great honor to have the opportunity to work to protect the interests of America. And that's the way I feel about the job.
KING: Does the president include you, General, in discussion of things like Iraq?
ASHCROFT: Iraq isn't my portfolio. And I really don't want to say what the president says to me and what he doesn't say to me. But I'm not an Iraq specialist. And I think the president knows that and --
KING: OK, I'll leave that. Have you made any decisions in which you said, maybe I'm treading on the constitution?
ASHCROFT: You know, we've been extremely careful about that. And very frankly, we have had a very serious review policy and effort on that, and Ted Olson, who we talked about earlier, has been the guy to carry the weight in any legal proceedings, and he heads up a team to look after that. We don't -- we ask that question every time we make a decision, but we've never answered the question in the affirmative, and then moved forward with the decision. We simply -- our maxim has been, think outside the box, never think outside the Constitution.
KING: And finally, General, the likelihood of another occurrence, another attack? How worried should we be, how do you measure that?
ASHCROFT: Well, I believe it was this network that came forward with something like 60 hours of tape of training, and thousands of individuals that went through the training, and the interest in biological -- evil biology and evil chemistry.
KING: Going on...
ASHCROFT: And it's my judgment that that kind of training was not done idly or as matter of amusement. That was done in preparation to try and achieve the purposes of terrorism. I think we've been very blessed that we've avoided a very, very serious attack. But we never know. And we have to remain alert. And I certainly take it all very seriously, and will have not let down my guard one iota.
KING: Thank you General.
ASHCROFT: Thank you.
KING: Attorney General John Ashcroft, on this special two-hour edition of the LARRY KING LIVE, one year later. We'll be right back.
KING: Great pleasure to welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE Michael Hingson and amazing guide dog Roselle. Michael was working at the World Trade Center at the time of 9/11 attack. He is blind. Roselle helped guide him down 78 floors to safety.
He's given keynote speech at Rutgers for the Conference on Strategies to the Future. And Roselle has been honored with a Congressional Insert saluting her inspirational story, and Roselle is receiving the American Kennel Club's 2002 ace award as Service Dog of the Year.
A big doggie deal, and Roselle deserves it all.
How are you doing, Michael?
MICHAEL HINGSON: Doing well, how are you?
KING: How do you feel on this anniversary?
HINGSON: Sad. It's been a year of change. It certainly been a year of tough things. And it's been a year of joys also.
KING: What was your job in the World Trade Center?
HINGSON: I worked for Quantum Storage Solution Group. I managed the New York-New Jersey office.
KING: And how you can you do that -- was that difficult to do without sight?
HINGSON: No. It was no different, for me than anyone else, I use different tools, but do the same job. I managed sales force, went on lots of sales calls, New York is a great place to do that -- New Jersey works well for that, so I have no problems.
KING: And now though, you're Californian?
HINGSON: Changed. Changed careers. Partly because of you, just a lot of attention. People wanting to connect to 9/11, wanted to hear our story, and I was asked to join Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, where Roselle is from. And I choose to do that, as -- it is kind of a way, in part to give back to Guide Dogs. I have been getting dogs from Guide Dogs for 38 years. And so, this is way to kind of help, so when I go and do speeches, all the proceeds of those go directly to Guide Dogs for the Blind.
KING: Can you could briefly explain on 9/11, what -- you can't see, what did you hear? What happened?
HINGSON: Oh, when the airplane first struck the tower, I felt, as much as heard a thud, just a big explosion. And then the building tilted. It came upright, our guests, who we had at the office at the time, were screaming and running toward the exit. I was in my office with a colleague, David Frank. David was the first to identify there was fire above us. I heard debris falling. We got out our guests out. I was concerned that I wasn't going to leave until they were gone. David got them headed towards the stairs. I had attended lots of fire drills, so I knew not to take elevators. Told him to make sure they took the stairs. And as soon as they were gone, then we left. I called my wife while David was getting them out, to tell her that something happened, and then we left.
KING: And you left, how? Were you panicky?
HINGSON: No, I couldn't afford to. Very consciously, I also had a calming sense from God. I asked God what to do, and just had a feeling to -- to stay calm. And so I did. And so I took Roselle's harness and gave her the appropriate command, such as to go forward, to go left and right and so on, to get where we needed to go. It was my responsibility to know how to get to the stairs, and her job to make sure we walked safely.
KING: And once you're in the stairs, you're hearing a lot of people around you?
HINGSON: Lot of people around us.
HINGSON: Not too much. It was tense, but people were calm. We had some burned victims pass us, but it was calm.
KING: And you just followed them down the stairs -- followed her down the stairs?
HINGSON: Right. We work together, and I know we helped others go down the stairs. And Roselle had chance to flirt with some of the firemen as we were going down the stairs, because as they came up, they would ask me if I were okay. Roselle gave lots of kisses and I know some of them petted Roselle.
KING: Is she always this calm?
HINGSON: When she's in harness, she does a good job. I ask Guide Dogs for a dog that would focus, and they did a good job of giving me one
KING: What happened when you got to ground?
HINGSON: We went to parking lot across from Two World Trade Center. But before we got there, building collapsed, so we literally turned and ran for our lives, and ran to subway station to avoid some of the dust cloud. By that time we inhaled a lot.
KING: how did you not run into things?
HINGSON: Roselle. Strictly following Roselle. Again I told Roselle to go forward. When we got to the end of the buildings, I could hear that we were at the end of the building. I knew we were at a street corner. Told her to go right, because that was away from the Trade Center. She turned and we went, and there were a lot of people running with us, and around us. So it was kind of a crowd mentality.
KING: Were you born blind?
KING: So you've never had sight?
KING: At anytime during all of this, were you frightened?
HINGSON: Two times. Once when the building was hit. The other time, when the tower was coming down. And I recall the second time, saying to God, how did you -- how do you do this? You got us out of this building just for another one to collapse on us? And I, again, was just overwhelmed with a sense of calm and a sense of don't worry what you can't control. And that's one of the things that I talk about in a lot of my speeches, is the concept of trust, and reminding people, don't worry what you can't control. Worry about what you can.
KING: Boy, you are certainly an inspiration and -- how have you dealt with now, your fame?
HINGSON: Oh, I don't know. About a lot --
KING: People know you now. A lot of people must come up to you.
HINGSON: They do and they -- and then they come up and talk to Roselle, and I hear people shouting to Roselle from across the street. And we talk back, and do what we can to help people connect around the country, to what has happened and move forward. Because we have to go forward to something, and I have found that everyone who is making progress, and able to cope with it, is going forward. They have got a goal or project to go toward, and most of all, all of us are adopting the position, don't let the bad guys win. And that's one of the things that I talk about.
KING: We salute you, Michael. We congratulate you, Roselle, on being the Ace Award Service Dog of the Year. Michael Hingson and his guide dog Roselle worked their way down from floor 78, World Trade Center, on year ago today.
We are going to take a break. As we go to break, here's another shot of Ground Zero tonight.
And by the way, a beautiful night in Manhattan. The humidity is gone, and not a wind today. That's cleared off. It's just a beautiful fall evening, as it was a beautiful day a year ago.
When we come back, we'll talk about the attack at the Pentagon with David Theall.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tito Bautista (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mark Lawrence Bavis (ph). UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jasper Baxter (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michele Beale (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paul Frederick Beatini (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jane S. Beatty (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lawrence Ira Beck (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Manette Marie Beckles (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Ernest Beekman (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maria A. Behr (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yelena Belilovsky (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nina Patrice Bell (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You've seen a shot now of the Pentagon tonight. That was the building hit by the plane that took off from Washington Dulles, supposedly heading for Los Angeles.
We welcome on this special two-hour edition of LARRY KING LIVE, David Theall, Public Affairs Specialist, United States Army.
Flight 77 smashed into the Pentagon about 100 feet from where he was working. He was awarded the decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service. That's the military's highest award to a civilian.
All right, give me the scene that day.
DAVID THEALL, PUBLIC AFFAIRS SPECIALIST, U.S. ARMY, PENTAGON ATTACK SURVIVOR: It starts off like just any other day. It's a funny thing about mornings like September 11.
We were gathered around monitors as we were watching what happened here in New York, had gotten to a television just in time to see the second plane hit the second tower.
And we knew instantly in the Pentagon that our lives had changed, that the mission had changed, that that which we were doing only that morning would be different than that that we were going to be doing that afternoon.
KING: Now, for clarification, you are a civilian employee of the Army.
THEALL: That is correct. I am a former soldier, and now I have been working for the Army as a civilian for a number of years.
KING: And you were always public affairs.
KING: Dealing with the public.
THEALL: Correct. And dealing with the media.
KING: Then what happened?
THEALL: Well, we all sort of went back down to our desks, you know, back down to our battle stations, if you will, to sort of close out the actions that we were working on, and then wait for the direction.
A friend called from Fort Belbaugh (ph), which is a military installation about 10 miles south of the Pentagon, and she jokingly said -- well, first she had called to ask if I was aware of what happened in New York. Of course, I was.
She jokingly said, you know, the Pentagon's probably next. You ought to get out. And then just one of those little ironic twists in life, that it just couldn't have been timed any better, for it was at that moment that the plane slammed into the Pentagon, about, as you said, 100 feet down the hall.
You know, Larry, you -- I have been with the Army for some 13 years. I've been on training fields. I'm not unaccustomed to those loud noises. It is something that you just feel in the core of your body.
And I knew instantly, we're under attack. We've been hit, and it's an airplane.
And although I explain these things in sort of one, two, three fashion, it happened in the blink of an eye. You can hear the explosion. You could feel it. You can hear the explosion making its way towards you.
The wall beside my desk just sort of crumpled up like a piece of paper. There were the bright lights, which only in retrospect did I realize was the fireball, and I was blown about 20 feet into what used to be the office next door.
It happened so quickly, that I still had the phone in my hand when I landed.
KING: What did you then do?
THEALL: Well, in one of those one in a million chances in life, the wall that was beside me landed on top of me, which protected me from the fireball. It went on to burn people who were in offices yet behind me.
KING: So the wall that landed on you saved you.
THEALL: Correct. KING: Then what?
THEALL: My immediate concern was for my coworker, Carl Monken (ph), who was working about 20 feet away from me in an outer office, and I called for him as loudly as I could call for anybody, six, seven times.
He finally responded, which was the happiest sound I'd ever heard in my entire life. And by that time, I was already making my way over the rubble, through the fires, towards Carl (ph), who was also picking rubble off of him.
We found each other in the darkness, and our immediate concern was the smoke. And my fear was that if we were trapped in that area, there was no way that we were going to be able to get out of that -- move rubble to get out of that area and live in that smoke, it was so thick.
And together Carl (ph) and I managed to pull down what was left of walls and step over copying machines and use anything that was hanging from the ceiling -- wire and pipes hanging from the ceiling -- to step across the rubble, and wound up finding other people along the way, and made human chains in order to get out of the Pentagon.
KING: For which you won this highest award it gives to a civilian. You were injured?
THEALL: I was. My knee was bruised, banged up pretty badly. My wrist was injured, and I wound up with an infection in my leg, for which I was hospitalized two times.
KING: What's the year been like?
THEALL: It has been an absolute roller coaster of emotions, as you can imagine. This day alone has been a roller coaster of emotions.
KING: Were you at the service this morning?
THEALL: I was at the...
KING: At the Pentagon?
THEALL: ... I was at the service at the Pentagon. The President spoke. Secretary Rumsfeld spoke.
There were moments such as when the flag came down. There were sort of these little moments in time that kind of closed out the year. I have been looking forward to September 12 for nearly a year now. I've begun calling it my new New Year's day.
But there were also moments at the Pentagon today, Larry, such as seeing the injured victims from the attack on the Pentagon. And if you can just see their spirit, and if you could see their determination to get on with life, let me tell you, those are the people in my opinion who are the real heroes. Mine was but a brief moment in time. And this entire year that has been September 11. And mine was a brief moment in time. It was animalistic, my desire to survive.
The inclination to help humans along the way, I think we all have that. That's human nature. Mine was a brief moment in time.
Those victims from the Pentagon attack and from the World Trade Center have had to make conscious decisions every morning to get up, to face another day, to get on with their lives, to be there for their families, and in some cases, to mourn the loss of dear ones.
KING: You still work there?
THEALL: I do. I went back to work...
KING: Same job?
THEALL: ... there that night. Yes, sir. Went back to work that night and was at the Pentagon the very next day.
KING: With the injuries.
THEALL: Yes, sir.
KING: First of all, why do you think you didn't just run?
THEALL: You know, if there is a redeeming quality to me, Larry, I have to give the credit to my parents, and I have to give the credit to military men who have trained me when I was in the Army, and men that I have met along the way in the Army.
KING: Obviously, they engendered something in you,...
KING: ... that caused you to react that way. Do you -- I asked General Ashcroft this -- do you think, because of the nature of the horrific look at the World Trade Center, that the Pentagon has gotten less attention?
THEALL: I think if you...
KING: And that it's a military, it's a military installation.
THEALL: You know, it's all a matter of perspective. Certainly, I mean, the death toll in New York was greater than it was in the Pentagon.
I think what happened to us at the Pentagon, I would tell you, I certainly have not heard any complaints about such a thing. I think what happened to us in the Pentagon is that we had a very -- we had a mission.
That night, as I told you, I went to work. So did the, some 20,000 other people there in the Pentagon. The Pentagon did not shut down. It was operational. The next day you saw people lined up for hours to get back to their desks, because they knew they had a very important job to do to support the United States military in this response to the attack.
So, I don't -- I certainly haven't felt slighted.
KING: Do you know anybody that did die?
THEALL: I -- it isn't fair to say that I knew them. I recognized their faces. One person I had been introduced to, but I had only started that job about five weeks before, although I was working just across the river at the military district of Washington.
I had known the people in the Pentagon -- my coworkers. I have known then for some four or five years and worked with them on a number of occasions.
KING: How have the repairs gone?
THEALL: You know, fantastic. Have you...
KING: I go by, look terrific.
THEALL: And to Mr. Evie (ph) and all of those construction workers for the Phoenix Project, it was absolutely phenomenal to see. And I love their present...
KING: ... right?
THEALL: Say again?
KING: The Phoenix Project.
THEALL: The Phoenix Project, exactly. I loved what President Bush said today at the Pentagon, where he was talking about what the terrorists probably didn't expect from Americans.
They didn't expect us to respond the way we did in the immediate aftermath of the attack. They did not expect our response, a military response to be so quickly, so well organized -- so quick, rather, and so well organized.
And certainly, they probably didn't expect that one year later, where they flew that plane into the building, there would be people working.
KING: The Pentagon, if luck is an appropriate word, may have been a little lucky in where that plane hit, right?
THEALL: Well, I mean, it's certainly a sturdy building.
KING: And the part of the building that it hit, right?
THEALL: You know, that's exactly right, because that part of the building was to undergo renovations. They had just completed that sort of wedge four area of the Pentagon, and that next wedge was scheduled to go, undergo renovation. So, yes, there could have been thousands of more people working there.
KING: And have we taken good care of the families of the deceased?
THEALL: I think that the response has been -- has been well organized, certainly. I can't speak for them. I mean, I did not have to deal with the horrible tragedy that they had to deal with.
KING: Thank you so much, David. I salute you.
THEALL: Thank you, sir.
KING: David Theall, who we might say, still at his post. Public Affairs Specialist of the United States Army, and again, awarded the Declaration for Exceptional Civilian Service. That's the military's highest award to a civilian.
Celine Dion will close out the show. In a moment we're going to meet Christy Ferer. Her husband, Neil Levin, was Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He was killed at the World Trade Center.
She served as a -- she serves now as Mayor Bloomberg's liaison between city government and 9/11 victims and families. We'll talk about healing with someone who is on the way to being healed herself, right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: A grateful nation bows its head in sorrow...
G.W. BUSH: Many civilian and military personnel have now returned to offices they occupied before the attack.
The Pentagon is a working building, not a memorial. Yet the memories of a great tragedy linger here. And for all who knew loss here, life is not the same.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We now welcome Christy Ferer to LARRY KING LIVE.
Why do you have a different name than your husband?
CHRISTY FERER, 9/11 WIDOW, NEW YORK CITY LIAISON WITH FAMILIES OF 9/11 VICTIMS: To protect him. I'm a journalist. I'm on TV. And as a...
KING: That was your name.
FERER: ... staff correspondent for CBS it's always been my name, my career name. And we've been married -- we were married for six years.
KING: Was he on duty that day? I mean, he was Executive Director of the Port Authority. That's the top job, right?
FERER: Yes. And essentially, his offices were on the 67th floor of the World Trade Center. And he always went to breakfast at the Regency here in New York on his way downtown from where we lived uptown. And it was very seldom that he ate breakfast at Windows on the World. But on that day, he had a breakfast at Windows on the World.
FERER: ... it was interesting, because when this first happened, I called the Regency and I said, look. I know he's at the Regency. And the maitre d' said, no, he wasn't. And then that's when I knew that there could be a potential problem.
KING: And then how did you know-know?
FERER: When the Governor called me and was looking for him. Because obviously, he works -- it was a post appointed by the Governor of New York. And he wanted to know if Neil had another cell phone number or beeper number that he didn't know about. And I said, no, not that I knew of.
And he wasn't answering his page or his cell phone. And the last he was seen by anyone in his office was on the -- at Windows on the World.
KING: They were unable to make any calls.
KING: That was -- they must have gone, if there's some console, pretty fast.
FERER: I have no idea. I can't even imagine. There was a report that he was seen in the stairwell, guiding people down close to where the impact was.
So I -- it's difficult, you know,...
KING: What's it like for you when you look at it?
FERER: Well, I don't, you know, I -- it's kind of an out-of-body experience, because I spend less time looking at that and realizing the physicality of it all than I do going through in my head what those last moments must have been for him.
And then the minute that kind of hits, I busy myself with something else. And that's part of the reason that what I'm doing with the Mayor is so good. It's a way of diverting from that grieving energy, and then pouring that grieving energy into something else. KING: How did that come about, to be the Mayor's liaison with the government and the victims?
FERER: Well, I've known Mayor Bloomberg for a long time, and I served on his transition team. And last December I got a message on my cell phone while I was on vacation saying, Christy, it's the Mayor -- if you can believe that. Because I think he had problems believing it at some point, because he was so pleasantly surprised.
And I'm calling you because I'd like to lean on you. And I thought, well, how nice. He's going to ask me to do something for him. When I called him back, he said I'd like you to represent me for all the victims' families. And I thought, well, how nice. He just wants to keep me busy.
Well, you know, now I think he was leaning on me a bit.
KING: It's an official job you have now.
FERER: It has become -- well, it has become a fulfilling job, but a full-time one.
KING: What do you do?
FERER: I own a television production company. I own the network in New York called Apple Vision in the hotels. It tells people what to do in New York. And I'm a contributing correspondent for CBS, the CBS Morning Show.
KING: And then, what do you do specifically for the Mayor?
FERER: And so the Mayor -- what we do is we service these families. I mean,...
KING: Visit them? Talk to them?
FERER: Visit them. Talk to them. Hold group meetings. Decide what they want to do for a milestone memorial, whether it's six months, the closing of Ground Zero, or today's ceremony.
Maybe it's the issue of Fresh Kills, where they've taken the human remains initially, and how they're being treated. Or maybe it's the human remains outside the medical examiner's office, getting them identified.
Only 51 percent of those have been identified. Maybe it's the issue of personal property left behind. We have that to go through yet.
KING: Oh, my.
FERER: That's being catalogued. I mean, I'll get a phone call in a day that says, you know, Christy, I went to Memorial Park today to pray at the trailers that are holding the human remains. And they're really rusty and it really bothers us.
So, I'll get the trailers painted. And now we're working on a quasi-permanent structure for those remains.
KING: This takes up how much of your time?
FERER: I would say about 40 hours a week.
KING: You spoke to the President today?
FERER: Just briefly.
KING: Did he know what you do?
FERER: I think so. I mean, he gave me a nod. I haven't really met with him in Washington before. But I helped him put together this event today.
KING: Your own grief help you help others?
FERER: You know what? I think it's the -- I think it's energy. I think it's drawing on the positive healing energy of other people.
I mean, we really do get energy from this community that is formed -- an unlikely community, actually, of victims, leaders that have come forth.
I mean, these are people who are not just about healing themselves. They've taken on greater issues, some of these people, issues of skyscraper safety, airport security, mental health. I mean, it's quite amazing. I mean, they have carved out these kinds of fields of public concern that they're pursuing.
KING: How did you heal?
FERER: You know, I think...
KING: How do you heal?
FERER: ... I think tomorrow, as Janis Joplin said, is the first day of the rest of my life, right? I've always said to myself, after the first year, or after September 11, 2002, I'm going to smile again. I'm going to laugh from the belly,...
FERER: ... sincerely. I'm going to really try to do that.
KING: You find any remains?
FERER: Yes, they -- I was lucky that...
FERER: ... they found Neil.
KING: Why is that so important?
FERER: You know, I think that it's the ultimate closure. And everybody hates that word, but you want to know you have something to bury. You don't leave it to your imagination what could have happened to him, if you have something concrete and solid.
And that's why I consider myself very lucky. Forty-nine percent of those 2,801 who were lost do not have anything to bury.
KING: What was today like for you?
FERER: You know, I think it was really everything I expected. It was a milestone that I had been involved with the planning with Deputy Mayor Patty Harris for a long time, who really did an incredible job. She just has worked night and day on this.
And for me it was just -- it was the last day. It was the last day of this long year. Tomorrow is a new year. It's almost like tomorrow is a new year.
KING: Now, grieving doesn't end, does it?
FERER: Well, you know, it's not...
FERER: ... you know what? I would say grieving, in my case, turns into trying to carry on my husband's legacy of public service. And I'm going to have the privilege of doing that, because the Governor is naming an institute, the 65th campus at SUNY is going to be called the Neil Levin Institute.
FERER: The first integrated institute of commerce and global relations. And so, that -- it's not a way of grieving, it's a way of funneling your energy into someone's legacy.
And I think everyone, every one of us who has lost anybody, has a legacy to carry on.
KING: Do you have any thoughts on what you want to have, be built at Ground Zero?
FERER: I think that we have to bring life back to that area. That doesn't mean...
KING: Commercial life?
FERER: I -- whether it's residential, some commercial, I think the footprints have to be virgin and not be built on...
KING: Debrief (ph) the building...
FERER: ... oh, absolutely. And the families -- I sit on a families advisory council for that lower Manhattan area. And they put out a mission statement that they very much agree on. They all came together and said that we want the memorial idea to lead the way for those 16 acres. And let's try to have nine acres set aside for that purpose.
So they were very specific in this mission statement. Now, whether they get that or not, or whether that gets whittled away at, or amplified, we don't know. But it's a starting point.
KING: Did you need psychological help yourself?
FERER: You know what? I have such a strong support from my family and from my friends, it's just amazing. And they gave me the psychological support that has really got me through this, I have to say.
It's a network of family and friends that is just irreplaceable. Even today, I got home, there were 22 messages on my answering machine. My Blackberry was buzzing all day, and I got a lot of flowers.
KING: Did you have -- do you have anger?
FERER: You know, I probably do. I probably take it out on my kids and the people I work with and don't even know it. I'm sure that that has to exist.
KING: Yeah, it must be there, right?
FERER: You know, and I -- but, you know, it's so -- it's so counterproductive to focus on the negative. It really is.
I just -- this country has such positive energy. And I just -- I just want to try to dwell on that good energy as much as possible, on constructive energy. I'm a practical person.
KING: Obviously. You're also an up person, aren't you.
FERER: Well, aren't you?
KING: I guess, if the glass is half full, right?
FERER: Exactly. Exactly. I mean, you have to look at it that way, don't you? You really do.
KING: You know, let's see how this works.
FERER: What does not destroy you makes you stronger. I mean, I look at this as something that, you know, if you can live through this, you can live through anything. That doesn't make it right, but you know, it does -- it makes us all a bit stronger.
What can happen to us that's worse than this? I can't even imagine.
KING: I thank you, Christy. Thank you for joining us. Christy Fer-RAR (ph) -- Fer-RER (ph)?
FERER: FER-er (ph).
KING: I'll get it right.
FERER: That's OK.
KING: Her husband was Neil Levin, Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
And she serves as Mayor Bloomberg's liaison between the city government and 9/11 victims and families.
Celine Dion is still to come. Here's another remembrance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI: And I found out that even though he was a very shy person in public, he was really funny. And I invited Jim over and asked him if he'd like to go to Paris.
And he didn't say anything, and I was terrified that I'd really stepped into it, because I'd never done anything like that before.
One of his dreams had always been to paint in Paris, which is something he got to do. And he wrote on the bottom, "Nikki, je t'aime, Jim." And I said, you realize that this doesn't mean I like you. It means I love you.
And he said, I know.
I was supposed to go into New York that day, and I didn't feel good. So he just tucked me in. And I said, we should go play hooky, and he said, we can't. That was pretty much it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: There's the Empire State Building, now the tallest building in New York City, and the eternal flame is at Battery Park. There you see it, and that's what an eternal flame means. It will burn eternally in memory of this extraordinary, which CNN started at six a.m. this morning, and proceeded right through to now, as we approach 11 p.m. eastern time.
Some of this programming will be repeated in the hours ahead.
We have promised you Celine Dion, and she will be with us momentarily, to take us to the conclusion of this two-hour special edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Tomorrow night, Governor Ann Richards will be our special guest. And on Friday night, Peter Jennings.
In New York for all of our guests, I'm Larry King.
We close the proceedings on this one-year anniversary of the worst incident in American history with one of my favorite performers doing a very symbolic song. Thank you, so much, Celine, for agreeing to do this.
CELINE DION, SINGER: Thank you for having me, Larry.
KING: This song is very special for this occasion. When it was recorded, it wasn't for this occasion, but it certainly fits.
DION: Absolutely. And when I was asked to sing and go to New York and come here, and it was -- it was probably the hardest thing I had to do. But it was a responsibility, and I was very honored that they've asked me.
And if I may, I'd love to sing it tonight.
KING: You may.
DION: And I'd love to sing it for everybody, especially the families of the victims.
KING: Here is Celine Dion.
(Celine Dion, "My Heart Will Go On")
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