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Commemorating the September 11th, 2001 Terrorist Attacks on America; Featured Memories of Students Who Where with The President On That Day. Aired 4-4:10a ET

Aired September 10, 2021 - 04:00:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This just in. You`re looking at obviously a very disturbing live shot there. That is the World Trade Center, and we have

unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another one just hit the building.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are no words.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It appears that something hit the Pentagon on the outside of the fifth corridor. We have a report now that a large plane

crashed this morning north of the Summerset County Airport, which is in western Pennsylvania.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It all started at 8:45 on a clear Tuesday morning. We had a live camera up on what looked like a smoking slash across on the

World Trade Center towers. A passenger plane had flown into it and I remember some of us here at CNN thinking this was some sort of freak event.

Then a second plane flew into the other tower, that was at 9:03am and at that point there was this deepening dread in everyone. Something was wrong

in a way we`ve never seen before. Airports, bridges, tunnels in New York and New Jersey shutdown, within 30 minutes President George W. Bush said we

were under an apparent terrorist attack, and minutes after that every airport in the country was closed. That had never happened before.

It wasn`t over though. At 9:43am a third passenger jet crashed into the Pentagon. Dark smoke rolled up from that part of that huge building. All

eyes and many cameras were on that and the two burning towers in New York, and as all of us watched a 10:05, one of those towers gave way where it was

smoking. The top part crushing down on the rest of it and sending up debris in boiling gray clouds. Five minutes later, part of the Pentagon collapsed,

and a fourth hijacked jet crashed in a rural part of Pennsylvania. The White House, the United Nations, the State and Justice Departments, the

World Bank, all evacuated. America bound Atlantic flights were rerouted to Canada and the second Trade Center tower came down at 10:28.

So many closings, evacuations, shutdowns except for emergency response teams, the heroes of 9/11. The country virtually stopped what it was doing

and gathered around TV screens. The president appeared just after 1 pm and asked Americans to pray and there wasn`t much else we could do. The

destruction was more or less done around 10:30. It was less than two hours from the first crash, but the change it inflicted was immeasurable. More

Americans were killed on September 11th, 2001 than on the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and when President Bush addressed the nation that

night at 8:30 his tone was one of sympathy, resolve and warning to anyone who planned or supported the attacks.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the difficult days that followed, we learned that the Al-Qaida terrorist group, led by Osama Bin Laden was responsible for all of

this and America`s attention and anger turned to Afghanistan whose Taliban leaders were giving Al-Qaida a safe place to live and operate.


CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: This Saturday will mark exactly 20 years since those terrorist attacks were carried out and a number of events are being

planned across America to remember the 2,977 lives that were lost. In the days immediately following the attacks, President George W. Bush declared

September 14th as a National Day of Prayer and remembrance for the victims and after that the U.S. government established the Patriot Day holiday. In

a sign of unity seen during that time, no members of Congress voted against that bill. Patriot Day has been observed ever September 11th since 2002.

This year there will be live TV coverage of memorial ceremonies, moments of silence will be observed. Prayer services and commemorative events will be

held across the United States, and readings will be made naming the thousands of victims including the hundreds of firefighters, police

officers, port authority officers and other emergency officials who lost their lives while trying to save others. Special events are being planned

at the three sites where the hijacked planes were crashed, "Ground Zero" in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia and the field outside

Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are planning to attend these three ceremonies and while we don`t know yet if the president is scheduled

to speak at one or more of these events, an address from Former President George W. Bush has been planned in Shanksville where United Flight 93 was

crashed 20 years ago. That morning in 2001, President Bush was visiting an elementary school. He was in a 2nd grade classroom when he was told the

nation was under attack. Almost two decades later, CNN`s Victor Blackwell visited that school in Sarasota, Florida and he spoke to the teacher and

some of the students who were with the president on that historic and horrific day. Here are their memories.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What do you do in that moment?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I cry. I pray and I ask why. Why and how? I really needed a moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) never see her cry and it`s like, something definitely impacted her more than what we know, what was going on,


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We knew Ms. Daniels as loving, caring. It`s a really different take from -- from our teachers. Kind of jarring. Never seen her

like this.

BLACKWELL: How long was your moment?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It could have been two minutes. It could have been three minutes, but I knew I had to get back to my kids.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But I didn`t want them to think that they had done something wrong. So I had to let them know it was not their fault.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Something in the way that you presented to us, like, allowed me to understand that, like, the human side of it. That, like, I am

not the most important person right now. Like, he`s got something he has to do. People are hurting. He has to leave and that`s OK and it`s not our


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I think after that, that`s when, you know, they cut on the TV for us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For those Americans who are looking at these horrific pictures--

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then it all came together, like, I grasped how serious it was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think myself and other students felt it was like a movie or something.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It didn`t look real.

BLACKWELL: The TV was here. You took them to a different room.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, the TV-- the monitor that President Bush had was in his office next door. Their memory of it might fluctuate a little. After

I came out of the room, I told them what happened. The pictures and the images that they saw, they might have seen them when that door was open,

but the TV never came in here. I was very careful about how much I exposed them to and what I said to them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was the first that I learned the word terrorist too.

BLACKWELL: Now this is the story that so few people have heard, in part because they`ve never all been together to tell this story. Those are the

students, while they`re 27 years old now and their teacher, Mrs. Daniels who with President Bush on that morning at Emma E. Booker in Sarasota. Now

the president was coming. This was started -- it started as a day that was one to celebrate. The president was coming to congratulate them for

improving their reading scores. They -- they were waiting for someone -- they had never seen a president in person obviously.

One little girl put her hand over her heart, Chantal (ph), she thought about him much like -- like the flag and pledging allegiance. Another boy

talked about, he expected a king to walk in, but when he walked in they say that President Bush was warm. They read a book "The Pet Goat", that they

all remember the title too -- the title of and then Andy Card walked and whispered 11 words into the president`s ear. A second plane has hit the

second tower. America is under attack. And Mrs. Daniels said the president left her, that he was sitting there but he was somewhere else, and then he

came back and then got up and walked away.

And she had to decide in that moment, what to tell her babies as she called them, about that moment. She wanted to make sure that they knew it was not

their fault. Twenty years later, they have the context of time to understand their place in this historic day. They don`t really like to talk

about it often, because they know that so many other people lost something that day. They don`t want the notoriety, but they know that they have to be

part of the history of that day to share that perspective.


AZUZ: And a powerful perspective it is. This will conclude our special coverage of the 20th Anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist

attacks. Thank you for watching and if there`s a tribute or memorial like this taking place in your community in commemoration of September 11th. It

is a sight to see. I`m Carl Azuz for CNN 10.