Return to Transcripts main page
CNN Live Event/Special
Shine A Light: A 9/11 20th Anniversary Tribute Special. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired September 11, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We're here tonight to "SHINE A LIGHT." To shine her light and sing "Hallelujah" -- H.E.R.
TAPPER: Twenty years on from one of the darkest days in history, we're all here tonight in New York City to help "SHINE A LIGHT" on the remarkable ways people joined together to help one another on September 11th, 2001, and in the days that followed.
We're here to pay tribute to those we lost that day, the survivors, the rescue-and-recovery personnel, and all those who rose heroically in service when America came under attack.
At the same time, "SHINE A LIGHT" is about recommitting to the undying spirit of unity and compassion that arose in the aftermath of those tragic events two decades ago to this very day.
"SHINE A LIGHT" is being brought to you by the nonprofit 9/11 Day so that members of the 9/11 community can tell their own stories directly and authentically.
9/11 Day is joining with the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Pentagon Memorial Fund, and The Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial, along with many other prominent 9/11 organizations to support this meaningful and forward-looking tribute.
Over the past 20 years, those forever connected by a day of tragedy have become a loving and diverse extended family.
I feel honored to be spending time during this next hour getting to know this extraordinary group of young people who are Tuesday's children, the children who lost a loved one Tuesday, September 11th, 2001.
And so tonight, we will do our best to inspire a greater sense of unity in conversation and with music from an extraordinary group of artists, H.E.R., Brad Paisley, Common, and Maroon Five.
We will take time to reflect, to listen to one another, and to share the stories of where we've been these past 20 years, where we are today, and where we go from here.
And now, let's take a remarkable look at images recorded by two firsthand witnesses to Ground Zero that reveal sometimes for the first time the light of kindness and compassion that shined even on our darkest day 20 years ago.
JIM CHESTNUTT, FEMA VIDEOGRAPHER: 9/11 shook the nation in a way not just physically but emotionally throughout the country.
Everyone deserved to know what was being done, to see as much as possible unfiltered, and that's what our job was.
MICHAEL RIEGER, FEMA PHOTOGRAPHER: I really concentrated on the human aspect and the people. They're the ones going through the disaster.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ed Comly was the lead. There's videographers like Jim Chestnutt, photographers, myself, Andrea Bore (ph).
Surreal is definitely the way to describe it.
CHESTNUTT: I arrived, my first tour around grounds, and the emotion, the energy was off the charts.
CHESTNUTT: We were all given these red card passes that would allow us to go everywhere.
But really what allowed us to go everywhere and get the photographs we got was the relationships we'd built with the urban search-and-rescue team members. They all understood there's reasons to capture these images.
And so we came to understandings, you know, anyone could wave me off at any time.
There was an unspoken agreement, like there always was whenever we'd respond to disasters anywhere in the country, that it was going to be driven by humanity.
This is a human story. There are people who don't know if their mother, father, parent, is in there, if they're trapped, if they're alive or not.
I remember one story where a young girl gave me a picture and asked me to find her dad. And you know, that's really, really hard. (CROSSTALK)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks for coming.
It's kind of wild looking after all these years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One thing working Ground Zero became quickly evident was how everyone took care of each other.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was no politics. There was no red and blue. It was the community united. It was the families united.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole group of people discovered their patriotism like they never had before. And we came together as a nation.
To this day, I think back and, you know, we did it then, we can do it again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Twenty years after the events of 9/11, there's no more meaningful perspective we could share than this chance to speak with the young people who are the living legacy of those we lost on that tragic day.
We're so thankful to be joined for "SHINE A LIGHT" by some of Tuesday's children.
Let's get to know them right now.
I would like you to begin, if you could, by telling us your name and who you lost on that day.
AMANDA STEWART, LOST FATHER ON 9/11: My name is Amanda Stewart, and I lost my father on 9/11.
PAM TAMIO, LOST FATHER ON 9/11: Hi, I'm Pam Tamio, and I lost my father, Hector Roguan Tamio (ph). I love him.
AUSTIN VUKOSA, LOST FATHER ON 9/11: My name is Austin Vukosa. I lost my father, Alfred Vukosa.
OLIVER VILARDI PEREZ, LOST HIS FATHER ON 9/11: Olivia Vilardi Perez. I lost my father, Anthony Perez.
EUGENE BELOFSKY, LOST MOTHER ON 9/11: My name is Eugene Gelofsky. I lost my mother, Elena Belofsky on September 11th.
KATE LEVY, LOST FATHER ON 9/11: My name is Kate Levy, and I lost my dad, Lieutenant Joseph Levy, on 9/11.
TAPPER: Tell us if you could about some of the people who showed you kindness, who helped you get to this day as successfully as you have. LEVY: You know, 9/11 was a very chaotic day and unimaginable day, but
the spirit of 9/12 really has stayed with me because the way that my community came together.
I grew up in a very small town, I just remember people stopping by all the time telling stories about my dad.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I come from a very large Filipino family. My dad is one of six, and we all kind of live within 10 minutes apart from each other.
They were just at our house constantly, just bringing food over, making sure that we were OK. And just making sure that we weren't alone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The children of 9/11 really helped me feel like I wasn't alone in the whole thing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For me, I would say it was my two teachers in eighth grade. They really went above and beyond and just really tried to do -- they were buying gifts, asking me, constantly checking in about how I was doing. That really made a big difference for me.
TAPPER: What were their names?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Richard Darcy and Elaine McCurdy.
TAPPER: My last question might be tough to answer, but how would your dad want us to commemorate today?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Probably make a joke. He just wanted -- he would try to make everyone smile and try to make everyone laugh.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was always known as kind of the life of the party and wanted to make sure that everybody was just happy. He would be the first one to turn the karaoke machine on and start singing a song with the rest of our friends.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he would want people to remember it, but also more of a day of service and just positive change in general rather than just focused on tragedy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She would want to see more kindness, more empathy in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My father would first want us to smile and not be sad at his passing, but that he got the chance to live. He lived a life of service. He was always, you know, trying to help out his family in the Philippines.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He made it to the 70th floor of the south tower and brought so many men and women home to their families. And being a fireman was everything to him. And his family, as well.
You don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. You don't know what's going to happen when you go to work, and you just got to make the best of it.
We really miss him and love him, but we have the faith that we will see him again soon one day.
TAPPER: Well, thanks to all of you for shining a light tonight. That was really very, very moving. And I'm sure your folks would be very, very proud.
The extraordinary stories of courage, compassion, and camaraderie on 9/11 took place not just here in New York but in Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The ones we've chosen to spotlight tonight while special in their own right are meant to be symbolic of all the extraordinary moment of bravery and kindness that occurred during and arose from the 9/11 tragedy.
You can go to 9/11day.org to learn more.
Our next musical artist is a Grammy and CMA award-winning country music superstar who knows a great deal about good deeds.
Here now to help "SHINE A LIGHT" with a very special performance from the Commonwealth of Virginia, this is Brad Paisley.
BRAD PAISLEY, MUSIC STAR: Twenty years ago on 9/11, we lost a lot -- a lot as a country. We lost souls. We also realized some heroes.
PAISLEY: We have changed a lot in that time period. But let us never forget the contributions of people up in New York and in a Pennsylvania field, right here out of D.C., in Virginia.
PAISLEY: And I think it's really, really important to shine a light and keep their memories alive.
WILLIAM JIMENO, 9/11 SURVIVOR: My name is William Jimeno, and I am one of two survivors that survived from underneath the World Trade Center on September 11th.
There was papers floating everywhere, debris everywhere. It felt like a war on U.S. soil.
We started running toward the buildings, and we're scared. We hear a humongous boom. I grab my helmet for dear life. There's just this horrific sound of like -- like 12 million freight trains coming down on us, then everything -- stopped.
At that point, I made my peace with God. I said, "God, thank you for 33 great years. But God, I'm going to miss seeing the birth of my daughter."
SCOTT STRAUSS, 9/11 SURVIVOR: When I saw that the second plane hit the World Trade Center, I raced back into work. And we were given certain areas of the trade center to start searching.
These openings were incredibly small. And we can see Will. He was on his back, completely encased in rubble.
JIMENO: It was really bad to one point where they couldn't get my left leg out. And I could see this hole above me.
STRAUSS: The firefighters above us were trying to control the fire that we were in, and they couldn't.
JIMENO: The pain, the heat, it was indescribable. It was horror. You know, those three hours were horrific.
You know, those three hours were horrific. They were painful. I tell people, believe it or not, in the middle of hell we found some laughter.
STRAUSS: As we're trying to get Will out, and I -- I said, yes, sure, it's got to be the fat guy, right? And Will's laughing in the hole.
JIMENO: I said, what can I say, my wife's Italian. She cooks good.
STRAUSS: I said she better be for the barbecue we're having when you get out of here.
JIMENO: We talked about our families and tried to keep our minds occupied from the danger.
STRAUSS: Three hours, 3.5 hours or so, we finally got his foot free. And we dragged Will out of that opening.
JIMENO: They put me on a stokes basket and brought me out of the hole. I looked up. I could see the moon. They started passing me down the line. All I could do was grab patches and thank everybody.
STRAUSS: It was surreal.
JIMENO: There was a special bond that was created down there that we still have today. And I'm blessed for that.
What's up, buddy? Come on in.
STRAUSS: Hey, Will, how you doing?
JIMENO: Good, good.
My wife had our daughter, Olivia, on November 26th, 2001, which was my birthday.
And I remember calling Scott and said, hey, man, I'm sitting here with Olivia, my baby that I didn't think I was going to see. I realized I needed to give something back, leave something.
And last year, I wrote these two books, "Sunrise Through the Darkness" and "Immigrant American Survivor."
I feel, as a survivor, it's my object and duty to good things I've learned.
STRAUSS: Will is a tremendous guy. And the family, I'm glad to be part of it.
JIMENO: Scott Strauss, I love him to death. I don't think hero's enough for him. For me he's an angel. I'm blessed that he was there that day to lead my operation.
I still can't believe I'm here, but I am. If it wasn't for Scott and the rest of the brave men that day, that came into that hole, put their lives on the line, I wouldn't have been there.
TAPPER: Will, yours is truly a remarkable story. We're so happy and honored that you could join us today.
I guess my first question after seeing that story is, how did it change if at all the way you look at life, given that you didn't think you were going to make it out?
JIMENO: I think the way September 11th changed me is to really look at the good of things.
You know, I always tell people if there's a tragedy and we don't take the light out of the tragedy, it's just that, a tragedy. I refuse to allow September 11th to be a tragedy.
As a survivor, I feel it's my obligation and duty to teach future generations of the good of that day.
So for me, September 11th changed me in a way of making sure that I looked at the positive things in life.
TAPPER: So that's what it taught you. What do you think it should teach the rest of us?
JIMENO: I think -- I was hospitalized for a long time. I didn't get to experience all the beautiful things of September 12th.
Yes, I say beautiful because they would tell me the stories of the thousands of civilians that would stand on the West Side highway and cheer on the first responders. How people were kind to each other.
But what I do remember is the first two weeks in ICU in Bellevue Hospital, one of the busiest hospitals probably in the world, there wasn't one shooting victim, one stabbing victim, nobody was assaulted.
I remember the doctor saying for those two weeks people cared about each other.
And that's what I want to remind everybody, especially this new generation of people, to be kind to each other. That together, we can make a better world.
TAPPER: And this anniversary is coming at a time when, in some ways, it feels like the nation has almost never been more divided. What's your message to the people out there?
JIMENO: Well, message is we're a big family, and families fight. We've got to remember that together we're the ones that are able to overcome things.
I always believe in kindness. I always preach three words -- faith, hope, and love. Have faith in religion. If you don't have religion, have faith in yourself.
Have hope. We must always have hope.
And have love. Have love for yourself and love for others.
We're the greatest country on earth, never forget that.
TAPPER: Thank you so much. Thank you for "SHINING A LIGHT."
JIMENO: Thank you so much.
TAPPER: Our next musical artist, like our first performer tonight, H.E.R., who will be back to perform later, is a Grammy and Oscar winner. He's an acclaimed rapper, actor, and writer.
Here to perform a song about courage from the Angel Center, a beautiful arts and performance space across the Brooklyn Bridge in the heart of lower Manhattan that was built in 1850, first as a synagogue.
In 2011, the center was the site of a moving memorial for the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
Here to "SHINE A LIGHT" -- Common.
COMMON, RAPPER: Ten years ago, in this divine space, the victims of September 11th, 2001, were remembered and honored with the moving tribute called "3,000 Pebbles in Memoria," with each pebble symbolizing one of the souls that we lost that day. Souls that we still carry with us.
On this 20th anniversary, it is our supreme honor to help "SHINE A LIGHT" at this event for and by the families of 9/11.
I feel grateful to stand in this beautiful and sacred space in New York City, the incomparable, exceptional, super dope New York City and spread love, hope, and power through music.
ELI MANNING, NFL FOOTBALL PLAYER: Twenty years ago, our nation made a promise to never forget, to never forget those we lost, to never forget those who stepped forward to serve, and to never forget the history and the lessons of 9/11 itself.
To help us remember, more than 1,000 9/11 memorials and monuments small and large now exist across America and the world.
We are thankful for all of them, especially the 9/11 Tribute Museum where I'm standing here tonight.
And the three national memorials that contributed their efforts to support Shine A Light and 9/11day.org.
The 9/11 memorial and museum in New York City, the Pentagon memorial in Virginia, the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania. These inspiring places provide a way for all of us and future generations to remember, to reflect, and to learn.
TAPPER: And right now, we want to continue with more of Tuesday's Children, sharing their powerful stories, helping to shine a light during this 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance. Thank you all for being here.
Let me just start by asking you, if you could, just introduce yourself to those watching who you are and who you lost on 9/11.
FRANCESCA PICERNO, LOST HER FATHER MATTHEW PICERNO: My name is Francesca Picerno. I lost my father, Matthew Picerno. He works for Cantor Fitzgerald in the North Tower.
DELANEY COLAIO, LOST HER FATHER MARK COLAIO: My name is Delaney Colaio. I lost my father Mark Colaio, and my two uncles, Stephen Colaio and Thomas Pedicini. And they also all worked for Cantor Fitgerald.
WALTER MATUZA, LOST HIS FATHER WALTER MATUZA: My name is Walter Matuza. I lost my father in 9/11, Walter Matuza, Jr. He works with Carr Futures on the 92nd floor.
RISHI PARMAR, LOST HIS FATHER HASMUKHRAI PARMAR: I'm Rishi Parmar. I lost my father Hasmuk Parmar. And he was also working at Cantor Fitzgerald.
JESSICA WARING, LOST HER FATHER JAMES WARING: Hi, my name is Jessica Waring. I lost my father, James Waring. He worked for Cantor Fitzgerald as well on the 101st first floor of the North Tower.
TAPPER: Tell me about some of the people or organizations who has helped you get through that awful time and helped get you to here.
WARING: Early on, after September 11th, there was family and neighbors and communities around us. It was really nice to have whether it was going to a baseball game or help someone helping me write a college essay or later on career guidance.
TAPPER: I'm wondering what you think your father's, you all lost your fathers. How will they would want you, us, to commemorate this day?
COLAIO: Because I was younger at the time, I obviously didn't know them that well. But I think they would want me to enjoy my life and just to surround myself with good people and, you know, just keep on track. It's what they would want.
PARMAR: My father was always known for having a really big smile on always. I think something, you know, he'd want me to continue doing, I guess, be positive, which I tried to do. You know, obviously that's tough, sometimes, but I try to stay in the moment more, enjoy what's in front of me, family, friends.
MATUZA: That day didn't affect me, you know, only emotionally, it affects me physically too, I lost my vision five minutes later. I wish I could do some of the things that my dad loves to do like drive and photography things he used to do and things like that. One thing he always said, I'll make it PG, he always said, don't sweat the small stuff. And that's always been something I have a hard time doing.
PICERNO: Personally, my father would say, do not waste a single second on missing me or being sad, and just memorialized me in the best way by enjoying your day, have a beer, smoke a cigar, just enjoying life to the fullest.
WARING: My sisters and I and my mom and my extended family have done like a really good job of keeping him around us. Like for example, we love the Rolling Stones and Tom Petty have been to several concerts and like, it's to the point where I can hear -- I can hear my dad's voice singing those songs like the memories aren't that far away. Sorry. I don't know why I just got choked up. I never get choked up.
My dad, someone who survived the bombing in 1993, and we lost him in 2001. So, knowing what he went through then, he still went to work every day. He didn't live in fear. He would just tell me to live every day. And that's all I can do.
TAPPER: Well, thank you and thank all of you for shining a light.
And now, let's shine a light on one remarkable true story of rescue, recovery, bravery, and compassion at Ground Zero.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TINA HANSEN, 9/11 SURVIVOR: I started working in the World Trade Center in 1983. It was a bit intimidating but thrilling at the same time. The idea of people with disabilities working and making things accessible was a new thing. MICHAEL BENFANTE, 9/11 SURVIVOR: The day of 9/11 2001, I'm on the 81st floor. The plane hit from the north side of the tower. And there was just this tremendous rumbling.
HANSEN: We could hear the glass hitting against the building and it sounded like wind chimes.
BENFANTE: Within six minutes, everybody in the office was going down the stairs. On my way down, the door to the 68th floor have to be opened, and I see people walking around as I walk down a hallway. I look to my right and there's a woman in a wheelchair.
HANSEN: All of a sudden, these two guys came in.
BENFANTE: There's an evacuation wheelchair next to her motorized wheelchair on the floor and we picked her up. We put her into the evacuation wheelchair, strap her in --
HANSEN: And we took off.
BENFANTE: People were moving down the stairwell in an orderly fashion, wasn't much panic. People inside the building didn't really know what was going on.
HANSEN: I had said very little up until that moment because they were carrying me, they were busy.
BENFANTE: I didn't ask her a name the whole hallway down. My mind is racing overtime to try to figure out how can I get out of here quicker.
HANSEN: I think it was around the 10th floor, there was a big cloud of dust.
BENFANTE: And that's when the South Tower was falling.
HANSEN: So, we emerged from the staircase and it was very quiet.
BENFANTE: The lobby just looks like a bomb went off.
HANSEN: And it was like we were the only people in the world.
BENFANTE: There's an ambulance facing South. So, we walk over there, get her into the ambulance.
HANSEN: It was at that point that I thanked Michael and got a little emotional. I guess I was relieved to be on solid ground. And that the ambulance made the turn to go to the hospital. When I was looking at the back, my watch turned to 10:27. And my last memory was of One World Trade Center was still stand. And, of course, the tower collapsed at 10:27 and whatever however many seconds it was.
Once I'm giving an interview to People Magazine, we reconnected. BENFANTE: I ended up getting married on September 13th, 2002. And Gina was there to share that with us. Tina's strong willed, and she's resilient. She doesn't let anything stand in her way.
HANSEN: After 9/11, America was united in terms of helping each other out. And I think that spirit continues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: 9/11 was 20 years ago, but for tens of thousands of rescue and recovery personnel who responded bravely, well, that 9/11 tragedy is still exacting a terrible price. Many of these heroes have become seriously ill, some have died.
Candace, you were a detective, you were working missing persons post- 9/11, the people that disappeared. And you went out to Staten Island where there was a landfill where all a lot of this material had been taken. What happened then?
CANDACE (PH): September 11, for me, is reflecting on countless phone calls, having people look for their loved ones. After working a missing person, I was in assigned to the Staten Island landfill. And I worked there for quite a few months. And from the time we got out of the car, it was the most horrible, horrible smell that I had ever encountered in my life. It was nauseating.
And I was like I remember saying whether it was naive or I was like, what is that? What does that smell? It smells like death. We would go into like this little tent. It was there where we initially didn't have masks. When we did later, we did receive them later on. When they issued filters and we take filters.
And I didn't learn till months later that those filters were only good for one day. And I wore the same filter for months. And unfortunately, a lot of people became ill only because we weren't prepared for that. I myself was diagnosed with breast cancer, respiratory issues, cardiac issues, gastro issues. People like John myself, you learn to just roll with it. Because life continues.
TAPPER: Thanks in large measure to the efforts of this person sitting here, John Feal. Congress established the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 that provides health care benefits and compensation for those who responded to the terrorist attacks at the Pentagon, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and here in New York City.
John, you were at Ground Zero after 9/11. You got injured. And that injury set you on a journey. Tell us about that.
JOHN FEAL, POLITICAL ACTIVIST: I spent 11 weeks in the hospital with gangrene then sepsis. I literally almost died. I got sick and denied benefits. And I had to fight and advocate for myself before I could do that for tens of thousands of other people. And here we are today, 20 years later. And there are so many people that haven't got the Justice they deserve. And these men and women, uniform and non-uniform continue to suffer and they continue to die. You know, Jake, we lose somebody on average every 2.7 days from a 9/11-related illness. We're here to ensure that history is never distorted.
TAPPER: The country should have done better by you earlier. And we're all hoping and praying for the best for you, for your health and continued success. Thank you so much for talking to us.
CANDACE (PH): Thank you very much.
TAPPER: Some 750 of those we lost on September 11th, 2001 live, not here in New York, but in New Jersey. The Shine A Light tonight with a performance from the Garden State of a song called simply Memories, this is Maroon 5.
CINDY MCGINTY, LOST HER HUSBAND IN 9/11: Mike was the perfect match for me. We met on a blind date. We just instantly were attracted to each other.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dada.
MCGINTY: Being a husband and father was his dream.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This just in, a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.
MCGINTY: When Mike died, it was very difficult. I always thought that people would know where the widow McGinty live just by driving by because how was I going to take care of two kids and keep the grass cut? But Foxborough is a town that takes care of its own.
CHRIS MITCHELL: I own a landscape design company. I got a call that Mike was in I'm one of the towers. So, didn't really know them personally but I knew I needed to do something.
MCGINTY: I heard a lawnmower going off. So, I went outside to find Chris Mitchell cutting my grass. And I said, Chris, what are you doing? And he said, this is what I do. You go inside, you take care of your kids. I got this.
MITCHELL: She wanted to pay me. I told her, her money's no good here. I was doing this, because in my opinion, it was the least I could do, you know, just trying to help somebody out.
MCGINTY: He came back week after week after week, and cut my grass and would never take a penny. And he did it for the entire eight years that I lived in this house. Is it possible as horrible as it was that there are blessings that came from 9/11? Yes, absolutely. Chris Mitchell, cut my grass and he raised us up.
Chris got a standing ovation, as he should, because that was one of the kindest things anybody's ever done for me. Thank you so much, Chris.
Chris was a role model for me. I started a scholarship in Mike's name. I was just trying to do something good to, sort of, pay back Foxborough for all the good that they did for us.
Mike was just the light of my life. And I'm sad that we're not growing all together. The reason that I can sit here today and be so positive was because of people like Chris.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Mommy, you blow out your candles.
MCGINTY: OK. You make a wish too. Ready?
TAPPER: Cindy, thanks so much for being here, what a moving story. You've become very involved in 9/11 day. And I'm wondering what the larger impact of the 9/11 community has had on your life.
MCGINTY: Well, for years, I struggled about what to do on 9/11. But on 9/11, the whole world looks at you and sees you and they expect you to be sad that day. And I could never find a good place to be. I wanted to remember all those good things that people did for me. And then along came these two guys, Jay and David who decided to try to recreate that unity and take the day back from the terrorists.
And let's bring Jay and David in to talk about this because you two essentially started this. It must be fascinating to see it actually come to fruition. What inspired you?
JAY WINUK, 9/11 DAY AND MYGOODDEED: Well, in my case, it was the actions of my brother, Glenn Winuk, that morning, he was a partner at a law firm, Holland & Knight. And their law offices in New York were located just a few blocks from the Trade Center. But Glenn was, for 20 years, a volunteer firefighter and an EMT.
He borrowed a first responder kit from workers on the scene and headed on foot into the South Tower. And he perished when the South Tower collapsed. And so, I wanted to personally get engaged in some kind of initiative that reflected the way Glenn lived his life in service to other people.
DAVID PAINE, FRIEND OF JAY WINUK: For me, it just seemed like something needed to be done. It was such a terrible moment. We had to do something to almost balance out the scales on the universe or something. And I didn't know anyone who'd lost a loved one other than Jay. And I called him up and I said, you know, what do you think about maybe trying to turn 9/11 into a day of doing good? I guess I've always been hopeful that people fundamentally are good at
heart and that we want to be kind to one another. We want to care about each other. And I think maybe 9/11 day gives people an opportunity to shine a light on that best part of themselves.
TAPPER: Did you ever think that this was actually going to come to fruition that it was actually going to become this day of service?
WINUK: Well, you know, we had big dreams. But it started as a small grassroots initiative. I mean, who could know that we would grow it into the largest day of service in the country? But that was really the dream. And so much of it, Jake, was about establishing a ritual that could be passed on from generation to generation, to people who didn't live through 9/11, and didn't get to personally experience that focus on our common humanity that was so evident after the attacks.
PAINE: One of the things we wanted to do when we created 9/11 day was to make it possible for everyone to participate. Kids can make their beds, do the dishes, any act of kindness counts. And so that's why we set up the website 9/11day.org, so that people could just post a good deed. Anything they wanted to do, any act of kindness.
They could even do a good deed for themselves, like quit smoking. It's just all about, sort of, taking a moment to maybe remember how much we all have in common, to live our lives the way I think we were all intended to live them.
TAPPER: Well, it's an amazing achievement and it's been a remarkable hour. And thank you all for shining a light.
MCGINTY: Thank you.
WINUK: Thank you.
PAINE: Thank you, Jake.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There once was a place, a place where our differences did not matter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're strangers stood shoulder to shoulder with outstretched arms, and an urge to help.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're neighbors showed up for neighbors and everyone was our brother or sister.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Connected by nothing more than wanting to do good.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're everyday people dropped everything to pitch in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be a front liner, a rescuer, a hero, when it mattered most, no questions asked. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To get back to that place, all we need to do is remember, the 11th of September.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 9/11 was a tragedy of unspeakable pain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it was also a moment of togetherness.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And a reminder of what we have in common.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A time when people were willing to give whatever they could.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even at the risk of their own wellbeing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A moment of compassion, when we all felt more alike than different.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because in that moment, we were in a state of Unitedness.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 9/11 proved we're not really divided.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not when it truly matters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, to honor the 20-year remembrance of 9/11 and those lost, let's once again take a moment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A moment to do a good deed, the September 11th.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Done by me, you, us, and millions more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're just told to open a door, that kind of thing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Deeds big and small, that would be a start.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's get back to that state of Unitedness.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And let's never forget what we're capable of doing together.
TAPPER: Thank you, everybody, for being a part of Shine A Light. To introduce our final performance tonight, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro.
LEONARDO DICAPRIO, AMERICAN ACTOR: Twenty years ago, my friend Bob and I stood together on stage of Madison Square Garden for the concert for New York. It was just a few weeks after 9/11, and we were there with musicians, actors, and other artists to show our support for the families who lost loved ones and the first responders and recovery workers who risked their lives to rescue others.
None of us will ever forget that night and we most certainly will never forget 9/11. Bob and I wanted to encourage you and everyone listening to please join with us and making sure that something good comes from the terrible 9/11 tragedy.
ROBERT DE NIRO, AMERICAN ACTOR: Dr. Martin Luther King once said, darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. Tonight on this National Day of Service and Remembrance, let's all do our part to live up to Dr. King's words and shine a light.
DICAPRIO: That's why we're asking you to take a moment the September 11 to plan or perform a simple act of service, charity, or kindness that promotes unity and helps others. So please visit 911day.org right now to help hashtag shine a light.
DE NIRO: And now my friend Leo and I are honored to welcome back a Grammy and Oscar winning artist here to do her part and shine for us again, H.E.R.