The 9/11 terrorist attack was one of the most tragic events in American history, but it also generated a number of quotes and memorable speeches about the resiliency of the United States and the healing the nation found together in the wake of the terrible attacks.
Those bright moments that came after one of the nation’s darkest days are now back in the spotlight as America commemorates the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. While footage of the attack plays over and over on news programs marking the anniversary, showing the plane crashing into the World Trade Center and the towers collapsing in a pillar of thick black smoke, so too do the soothing words that helped America make it through the trying time that followed.
These words come to life again every year on September 11, with many searching them out to gain a greater insight to the tragedy, to bring healing to the wounds of that day, or simply to find a poignant 9/11 quote to share on Facebook. And there has been extra attention this year, which has a number of special events and memorials planned to mark 15 years.
— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) September 11, 2016
Some of the most memorable 9/11 quotes came from the nation’s leaders, with President George W. Bush delivering a speech just hours after the attacks. Speaking that night from the White House, with the ruins of the World Trade Center and Pentagon still smoldering and the wreckage of a fourth plane scattered across a field in Pennsylvania, Bush gave what many believed to be the best speech of his presidency.
This is what it looks like inside the 9/11 'Tribute in Light' memorial in Lower Manhattan pic.twitter.com/wYOpvOHRx3
— Eyewitness News (@ABC7NY) September 11, 2016
The speech also generated some of the most powerful 9/11 quotes, especially when he referred to the United States as a “beacon” to the world.
“A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.”
— President George W. Bush
New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani also delivered a number of memorable quotes as he spoke to New Yorkers after the attack. He spoke in the days that followed and delivered a particularly memorable speech on December 31, 2001, in which he talked about the city’s unbreakable spirit.
“The attacks of 9/11 were intended to break our spirit. Instead we have emerged stronger and more unified.”
— Rudy Giuliani
There have been a number of memorable 9/11 quotes in the years that followed as well, with politicians, authors and commentators remembering the gravity of that day.
“Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11.”
— President Barack Obama, 2011 radio address.
“September 11 is one of our worst days but it brought out the best in us. It unified us as a country and showed our charitable instincts and reminded us of what we stood for and stand for.”
— Senator Lamar Alexander
Many of those memorable 9/11 quotes come directly from the victims and their families, who deliver a message of healing and strength in the weeks, months, and years that followed the attack.
“If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.”
— Sandy Dahl, wife of Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl
“Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children.”
– President George W. Bush
Those searching out 9/11 quotes from some other perspectives can click here for a collection of quotes from survivors gathered by the Journal News. The full text of George W. Bush’s speech delivered on the evening of September 11, 2001, can also be seen here.
[Photo by Kathy Willens/AP Images]