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CNN Live Event/Special

Three-Month Observance of September 11th Attacks

Aired December 11, 2001 - 08:36   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We need to go to the Justice Department, where solicitor general Ted Olson is now starting a memorial service at the Justice Department for those killed at the Pentagon three months ago today.

Let's listen to his address.


I know that was for everyone that we're talking about today.

On September 11, three long months ago, our nation and our people were savagely attacked, thousands of our citizens were murdered, many suffered painful and disfiguring injuries and tens of thousands lost spouses, children, parents, other family members, neighbors, coworkers and friends.

This was a brutal assault on America, Americans and American ideals. The victims of September 11 were persons of all races, backgrounds, religions, ages and qualities. They were walking, talking, living symbols of all that America stands for to the impoverished, enslaved and persecuted people of the world who long to come to America or to live lives of freedom, democracy, equality and to pursue the right to happiness and prosperity.

The persons who planned and executed the atrocities of September 11 cannot prevail, they cannot even long exist while American ideals inspire the people they wish to tyrannize and enslave. These individuals are tyrants and so they hate democracy. They are bigots, zealots and persecutors and so they hate America's freedom, tolerance and respect for all people. The terrorists of September 11 live and flourish in darkness. They cannot survive in the liberating and inspirational sunlight of American freedom and democracy.

We have all been tragically reminded once again in the most unthinkable fashion that our principles are neither self-executing nor self-sustaining. As Thomas Jefferson sadly reminded us, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of tyrants and patriots." But tyrants and terrorists, along with the rest of the world, are now learning that the freedom and openness of our society that made us vulnerable on September 11 also makes us ultimately invincible.

The values that made us free make us strong. The liberty that makes us prosperous makes us resourceful, innovative, resolute and the strength created by the bonding of countless cultures and peoples unify us and make us indomitable. Our citizens and our government stand together as seldom in our history. All of us know that the attacks of September 11 were an assault on every American and that every American is threatened by our assailants until they are conquered.

We will never forget our loved ones who died or who were wounded on September 11. The heroes that inspired us on that day so indelibly etched into our memories or the suffering that we have all experienced in thousands of individual ways on that day and since then. I say this for every American. We will fight this evil as long and as patiently as it takes. We will prevail. We will comfort and care for those who have suffered. We will not forget.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let us pray. God of compassion, and mercy and justice in this season of light, in this season of joy, our hearts are heavy. We pray Lord God as to the solemnnist (ph), when, oh Lord, when, when should we have the day of our redemption, oh when? And yet in this season of home, we ask you oh mighty God to fill our hearts with the hope of your light in the darkest of times that we all may be one as you father our one. And to this we say Amen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the name of God, the merciful benefactor, the merciful redeemer, let us pray. Oh, our Lord, give to us in this light that is good, and in the next life, that which is good to protect and guard us from the torment of sin. Say, oh our Lord pour out on us constancy and make our footsteps firm and grant us victory over those who reject faith.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh Lord, as we stand here today, across from where buildings stood, adjacent to a Christmas tree and a Hanukkah Menorah, we say to the world that they took down our towers, but they will not take away our tradition. They took down those structures, but they will not take away this spirit.

I came here today with a stone from my parent's grave to place at ground zero. my parents lost seven children in the Holocaust. They taught me the greatest challenge of life to begin life again. So this year, for our holidays, we will begin to light again, we will begin to love again, and we will hold one another, as we show one another how to begin life again.




A great writer has said that the struggle of humanity against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting. When we fight terror, we fight tyranny, and so we remember. We remember the perfect blueness of the sky that Tuesday morning. We remember the children traveling without their mothers when the planes were hijacked. We remember the cruelty of the murderers and the pain and anguish of the murdered. Every one of the innocence who died on September 11 was the most important person on earth to somebody. Every death extinguished a world.

We remember the courage of the rescue workers and the outpouring of friendship and sympathy from nations around the world. We remember how we felt that day; our sadness, the surge of love for our country, our anger and our determination to right this huge wrong. Today the wrong is being righted and justice is being done.

We still have far to go and many dangers lie ahead. Yet, there can be no doubt how this conflict will end. Our enemies have made the mistake that America's enemies always make; they saw liberty and thought they saw weakness, and now they see defeat.

In time this war will end, but our remembrance never will. All around this beautiful city are statutes of our heroes, memorials, museums and archives that preserve our national experience, our achievements and our failures, our defeats and our victories. This republic is young, but its memory is long. Now we have inscribed a new memory along side those others. It's a memory of tragedy and shock, of loss and mourning. But not only of loss and mourning; it's also a memory of bravery and self-sacrifice and the love that lays down its life for a friend, even a friend whose name it never knew.

We are privileged to have with us today the families of many of the heroes on September 11, including the family of Jeremy Glick of flight 93. His courage and self-sacrifice may have saved the White House. It is right and fitting that it is here we pay our respects.

In time, perhaps, we will mark a memory of September 11 in stone and metal, something we can show children as yet unborn to help them understand what happened on this minute and on this day.

But for those of us who lived through these events, the only marker we'll ever need is the tick of a clock at the 46th minute of the eighth hour of the eleventh day. We'll remember where we were and how we felt. We'll remember the dead and what we owe them. We will remember what we lost and what we found. And in our time, we will honor the memory of the 11th day by doing our duty as citizens of this great country, freedom's home and freedom's defender.

God bless.


ZAHN: We will continue to stay with these memorials over the next 10 minutes or so. Some 15 nations all over the world demonstrating their solidarity with the U.S.-led terrorism effort, honoring a moment of silence at 8:46.

The president saying, among other things, that the wrongs are being righted. Justice is being done. No doubt in his mind how the conflict will end. He said the very same liberty that the terrorist thought showed a sign of weakness instead they will see defeat.

We take you back to Ground Zero in New York now.


ZAHN: As we leave the haunting sounds of the New York remembrance, we take you to space to listen in on what both Russian and American astronauts reflections are at this hour. Let's listen to that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now I would like to introduce, Don Goy (ph), the commander of Endeavour, with a few things to say about the special things that NASA is doing to commemorate this day and all of those who are affected.

Thank you, Frank.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back on September 11th, when we were training for this flight, we found it very, very difficult to stay focused and motivated which so many terrible things that happened to our country. But all the astronauts and cosmonauts on the flight all realized that this space program is one of those unique opportunities to show the world, and certainly our country, that our power and our vision. If we stay focused and motivated, have a great fight, that people will draw strength from that. That carries us through, and we launched just a few days ago, American space program history of flying items in space to honor people that have been courageous acts of bravery, or loved ones that were affected by many different events.

We have literally thousands of items onboard this space shuttle and space station now to bring back and to distribute and honor those people that lost their lives and are doing their best at this time around the world, personnel, as well those in New York City and Washington D.C. to stop the threat of terrorism. We have 6,000 small fliers flags that will be distributed to the loved ones of the people killed in New York City and Washington. We have several United States flags and a Marine Corps flags.

I think the most significant one to me and many of us on the crew is a large American flag that was flying on top of the World Trade Center, and it fell down amongst the rubble, and was recovered and brought to NASA to fly on the space shuttle. When we first saw it, it was remarkable that it with stood all the damage and came out, and it's quite special it did. It did have some tears and some ashes, just like our country was damaged a little bit, but we're a little bit of attention, and care and love, it will fly just like it did before, beautiful, and high and strong, and what a great symbol to bring back to our country, and I think our country is doing the same thing, and this flag is recovering beautifully.

And we're going to go on and show the world that we do have incredible freedom in our country, and we will stop the threat of terrorism. There is nothing that we can't do, just like with the space program, if we put our minds to it and work together.

So we join the control centers in standing in memory of those who lost their lives and were affected by this tragedy. We also want to remember the armed forces around the world that are working so hard in fighting to rid the world of this terrible threat, terrorism.

So thank you all very much for your attention, and we wish you all the best in the future.

ZAHN: You are listening to astronaut Greg Cuberson (ph) and his wishes for the American public, as we mark today three months of course, almost to the minute, the time of the first Trade Center tower was hit. Governor Pataki of New York, Mayor Giuliani out mixing with the crowd. You probably saw if you've been with us throughout the morning large numbers of fire department officials represented in the crowd here at Ground Zero today, as well as police officers.

And we've heard some very powerful thoughts about what September 11th represents to Americans. The solicitor general Ted Olson saying that those responsible for these attacks are bigots, persecutors, and the freedom that made us vulnerable on September 11th has made us invincible today.

We leave you with that thought as we take a short break.