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CNN NEWSROOM

Remembering 9/11. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 11, 2018 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:30:00]

(MOMENT OF SILENCE)

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: What a moment, the sixth moment of silence on this September morning. 17 years ago, when nearly 3 million Americans were murdered on 9/11.

That moment of silence and the six tolls of that bell, marking the moment the North Tower fell. We remember all of them always.

We're about to hear from the president this morning. He's in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. He'll speak there on that hallowed ground, where United Flight 93 was downed by those heroes who overtook the hijackers. Of course, that plane believed to have been headed for the Capitol.

Let's go straight to my colleague and our White House reporter, Sarah Westwood, who joins us there.

We heard from the vice president last year in Shanksville, Mike Pence, with some beautiful remarks last year there.

What will we hear this morning from the president?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, I'm going to keep my voice low because the ceremony is continuing to go on behind me but President Trump is expected to mark his second 9/11 anniversary in office in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, by focusing on the 40 passengers and crew members who were on board that hijacked plane, who rushed the cockpit in order to stop what could have been a devastating terrorist attack, like you mentioned, in the Capitol.

Whatever else might be on the president's mind, today is a day about American unity, so he'll likely be focusing on all of the tragedies that unfolded, not just here in Shanksville but across the country. Vice president Mike Pence is at the Pentagon this year. That's where President Trump was last year.

Now that Trump has visited Shanksville, he becomes the third president. Now every president who has held office since 9/11 has come to visit the Flight 93 memorial. The memorial was actually just completed on Sunday, when the Tower of Voices was dedicated.

This memorial has been years in the making and we look forward to hearing what the president has to say. HARLOW: There is such a tribute that is being built.

It's almost done there as part of the memorial, right?

That's something called the Tower of Voices.

Right?

With all of these wind chimes.

What can you tell us about it?

WESTWOOD: Well, the Tower of Voices is something that is several years in the making. Eventually, this tower, which stands 93 feet in the air to symbolize the United 93, the flight number. And it will have 40 wind chimes, one for each of the victims of the crash. It's meant to symbolize the voices of the victims ringing out across this field.

Right now, there are eight wind chimes that have been put in place. Another 32 will eventually be put in this tower. But because it's such a unique design, Park Service members say it's been difficult to get it completed on time but it was dedicated on Sunday, Poppy.

HARLOW: And as I heard, they will each have their own unique sound, distinctive sound for all of those unique and distinctive lives lost.

Sarah, thank you for being there.

And again, we're waiting for the president, who will speak in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, in just a moment. The first lady is with him today. You'll hear it all live right here.

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[10:35:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

HARLOW: All right. We're back with our special coverage of the 17- year mark since this nation was attacked on 9/11, 2001. You're looking at the Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, right now, who is introducing the president.

The President of the United States will be speaking. You see him there, sitting next to the lectern, along with the first lady, Melania Trump. We'll get to that as soon as the president begins.

Ahead of that, joining us is our senior political analyst and former adviser for presidents, David Gergen.

David, this is a day, politics aside, everything else aside except for honoring the nearly 3,000 lives lost on 9/11.

What do you expect we'll hear from the president?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Last year, the president went to the Pentagon, as you know, to remember and honor the dead of 9/11. And he gave one of his best speeches. It was thoughtful. It was solemn. And importantly, it was apolitical.

He didn't bring politics into the middle of it and I think he gave a speech we could all rally around. That's what I'm hoping and assuming he will do or trust he will do again today.

HARLOW: Yes. You know, I had, on the show with me last hour --

[10:40:00]

HARLOW: -- David, a man who lost his pregnant wife on Flight 93. Right, so today and this memorial specifically, means so much to him and so much to all of those who lost their loves ones.

He said to me, I hope that this can be a day of some national unity, a day where we remember what this country was like.

You remember that day, David. I remember it so well, like it was yesterday. We all came together.

GERGEN: I think that's right. And remember when President Bush went to New York and the firemen yelled and he yelled to the firemen and they were yelling at him, he said, you know, you can't hear me but all of us hear you.

HARLOW: And let's listen to the President of the United States.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Ryan. So beautiful.

We're gathered together on these hallowed grounds to honor the memory of nearly 3,000 souls who were murdered on this day 17 years ago. We're here to pay solemn tribute to the 40 passengers and crew members on Flight 93 who rose up, defied the enemy, took control of their destiny and changed the course of history.

Today, we mourn their loss. We share their story. And we commemorate their incredible valor.

On September 11th, 2001, a band of brave patriots turned the tide on our nation's enemies and joined the immortal ranks of American heroes. At this memorial on this sacred Earth, in the field beyond this wall and in the skies above our heads, we remember the moment when America fought back.

Melania and I are grateful to be joined for today's ceremony by Governor Tom Wolf and Governor Mark Schweiker.

I also want to thank the members of Congress in attendance, Senator Bob Casey, Congressman Lou Barletta, Keith Rothfus, Bill Shuster and along with the president of the Families of Flight 93, Gordon Felt. We're also joined by members of the National Park Service along with

firefighters, first responders and incredible people from law enforcement. These are truly great people.

Some of you here today answered the call and raced to this field 17 years ago. You fill our hearts with pride and I want to thank you on behalf of our country. Thank you very much. Most importantly, to the family members of Flight 93, today, all of America wraps up and joins together.

We close our arms to help you shoulder your pain and to carry your great, great sorrow. Your tears are not shed alone, for they are shared grief with an entire nation. We grieve together for every mother and father, sister and brother, son and daughter, who was stolen from us at the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and here in this Pennsylvania field.

We honor their sacrifice by pledging to never flinch in the face of evil and to do whatever it takes to keep America safe. Seventeen years ago, your loved ones were among the 40 of Flight 93, the 40 passengers and crew members onboard the 8:00 am United Airlines flight from Newark to San Francisco.

They were men and women from every background.

[10:45:00]

TRUMP: They were young people returning from visiting family, moms and dads on business trips and friends going and coming from birthdays and weddings. They boarded the plane as strangers. And they entered eternity linked forever as true heroes.

Soon after takeoff, Flight 93 was hijacked by evil men bent on terror and conquest. Passengers and crew members began using their phones to call home. They learned that two planes had already crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City.

Immediately, those on board Flight 93 started planning a response. Sandy Bradshaw, a flight attendant, called her husband and told them they were in the back of the plane, preparing hot water to throw onto the hijackers.

Passenger Jeremy Glick explained the plan to his wife and said, "Stay on the line, I'll be back."

The passengers and crew members came together, took a vote and they decided to act. At that moment, they took their fate and America's fate back into their own hands. In the last 20 minutes, many placed their final calls home, whispering those eternal words, "I love you."

Some said the Lord's Prayer. And then they bravely charged the cockpit. They attacked the enemy. They fought until the very end. And they stopped the forces of terror and defeated this wicked, horrible, evil plan.

Flight 93 crashed yards from where we stand, just 20 minutes flying time from the United States Capitol. Through their sacrifice, the 40 saved the lives of countless Americans and they saved our Capitol from a devastating strike.

In the days after the attack, tens of thousands of firefighters, police officers and recovery workers traveled to New York and Arlington to crawl through the rubble in search for survivors. There were prayer vigils, memorials and charity drives all across our nation.

Here in Shanksville, many of you raised up the first memorial, a wooden cross, a chain link fence, mementos and tributes pouring in and dozens and dozens of American flags. A piece of America's heart is buried on these grounds. But in its place has grown a new resolve to live our lives with the same grace and courage as the heroes of Flight 93.

This field is now a monument to American defiance. This memorial is now a message to the world. America will never, ever submit to tyranny. Since September 11th, nearly 5.5 million young Americans have enlisted in the United States armed forces. Nearly 7,000 service members have died facing down the menace of radical Islamic terrorism.

Today, we also think of the more than 200,000 service members now serving --

[10:50:00]

TRUMP: -- overseas and we think of every citizen who protects our nation at home, including our state, local and federal law enforcement. These are great Americans. These are great heroes. We honor and thank them all.

As commander in chief, I will always do everything in my power to prevent terrorists from striking American soil.

Here with us today is Dorothy Garcia. Her husband, Sonny, was one of the passengers on Flight 93. On September 11th, 2001, just over a month after their 32nd wedding anniversary, Sonny was on his way back from a business meeting.

He called Dorothy, who he loved so much, called her on the plane and uttered her name before the line went dead silent. In the days after the attack, Dorothy told the investigators there was only one thing she wanted from this field, her husband's wedding ring. They would know it by the inscription etched inside.

"All my love," it said, followed by the number 8-2-69, the date of their anniversary. The officers, great people, promised to try. But in this field of wreckage, it seemed certainly impossible. Dorothy began to pray and she asked her friends to do the same. Days went by, then months. Still no ring.

A week before Christmas, on December 19th, she heard a knock at the door. Two officers were standing with a really beautiful to her, she thought it was so beautiful, she knew what was happening, a beautiful, small white box. Inside it was a wallet, a luggage tag, a driver's license, a small bag

with the wedding ring inscribed with those three precious words, "all my love."

Those words echo across this field. And those words tell the story of 40 men and women who gave all their love for their families, their country and our freedom. To Dorothy and to every family here today, America will never forget what your loved ones did for all of us.

Earlier this week, you dedicated the final part of this memorial, the Tower of Voices. Standing at 93 feet tall, the Tower of Voices is now the first structure visitors see when they come to this now sacred ground. It will hold 40 beautiful chimes that ring throughout these fields, each, a unique note but all in perfect harmony.

Each time we hear those chimes playing in the wind, we will remember the 40. We will remember their faces, their voices, their stories, their courage and their love. And we will remember that free people are never at the mercy of evil because our destiny is always in our hands.

America's future is not written by our enemies. America's future is written by our heroes.

[10:55:00]

TRUMP: As long as this monument stands, as long as this memorial endures, brave patriots will rise up in America's hours of need. And they, too, will fight back.

Seventeen years ago, 40 incredible men and women showed the whole world that no force on Earth will ever conquer the American spirit. We treasure their memory. We cherish their legacy. And we ask God to forever bless the immortal heroes of Flight 93. Thank you. God bless you. God bless the families and God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

HARLOW: Quite a tribute there to the American lives lost, murdered on 9/11, from the president, speaking just now in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. David Gergen is back with me.

David, in the words of the president, they boarded that plane as strangers. And they entered eternity forever linked as heroes.

GERGEN: Beautifully written. Very thoughtful speech by the president. I think easily one of his best speeches. For a moment, Poppy, one could almost forget the chaos around us, the acrimony, the poison, and come together.

You can only hope the president will navigate that course again, that he will understand that the kind of speech he gave today brings us back together and helps in that regard and that, if he will take the -- lead the way, maybe we can find our way to a better place as a nation. HARLOW: Maybe we can. It's an important thought to leave it on. David Gergen, thank you for being with me for that.

Thank you all for joining me this morning. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. I'm glad you were with us on this solemn morning, 17 years after this nation was attacked on 9/11. We'll be right back.