Michelle Obama Recalls the 'Uncertainty and Anxiety' She Experienced on 9/11 with Sasha and Malia

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Obama Family
Obama Family

Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Obama family

Michelle Obama is one of many reflecting on Sept. 11, 2001, to mark the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that claimed nearly 3,000 lives.

The former first lady, 57, recounted the "uncertainty and anxiety" of that tragic day, which she spent with daughters Malia, 23, and Sasha, 20. Michelle posted photos to Instagram of herself and husband Barack Obama comforting survivors and families of those who died in the terror attacks, along with a heartfelt tribute.

"I spent the morning of September 11, 2001, with my girls in Chicago," she began her caption. "It was Malia's first day of nursery school — I remember taking her photo, dropping her off for the very first time, and feeling those pangs of separation from my baby. I'd just buckled newborn Sasha into her car seat and was driving back home when I heard the news on the radio — and the uncertainty and anxiety set in almost immediately. What was happening? Had the world just changed? What kind of future were our girls going to enter?"

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She continued, "Each of us, if we were old enough at the time, has our own story from that day. It's a snapshot — a time capsule — back to a different moment for all of us. For those who lost loved ones, it's especially painful to relive. My heart goes out to all those for whom this wasn't just a national tragedy, but a personal one.

"So today, I hope you'll take an extra moment to mourn, to reflect, and most of all, to remember. It's up to all of us to make sure that we're honoring all those memories that come rushing back by living lives that reflect not just the trauma of that day, but the best that was on display, too: our kindness and compassion, our courage and resilience. They're the values that lifted us up twenty years ago. And I hope they can guide us all, not just on an anniversary like this, but every single day," Michelle concluded.

She and Barack, 60, commemorated the occasion at Ground Zero in New York City, where the twin towers of the World Trade Center fell after they were hit by two hijacked planes. The names of every victim were read aloud, and six moments of silence marked the moments when each plane hit the towers, when the towers fell, when another plane hit the Pentagon and when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers stormed the cockpit.

They were joined at the event by President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, who served with them as vice president and second lady during Barack's two terms. Also in attendance were former first couple Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton.

RELATED VIDEO: Reflecting on September 11, 2001 Attacks on the 20th Anniversary: "We'll Live With the Scars the Rest of Our Lives"

Barack shared a tribute of his own to the survivors and victims of 9/11. "Today we honor the nearly 3,000 men, women, and children who died on September 11, 2001, and even more who lost their lives in service to our country in the two decades since," he began.

"We reaffirm our commitment to keep a sacred trust with their families — including the children who lost parents, and who have demonstrated such extraordinary resilience," he continued. "But this anniversary is also about reflecting on what we've learned in the 20 years since that awful morning."

The Promised Land author went on to recognize the first responders and volunteers who stepped up in the country's darkest hour, as well as those who've kept that spirit of unity alive throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

(L-R) Former President Bill Clinton, former First Lady Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, former First Lady Michelle Obama, President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg's partner Diana Taylor, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) stand for the national anthem during the annual 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum on September 11, 2021 in New York City.
(L-R) Former President Bill Clinton, former First Lady Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, former First Lady Michelle Obama, President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg's partner Diana Taylor, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) stand for the national anthem during the annual 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum on September 11, 2021 in New York City.

Chip Somodevilla/Pool/AFP via Getty

"Over the last 20 years, we've seen the same courage and selflessness on display again and again. We saw it a decade ago when, after years of persistence, our military brought justice to Osama bin Laden," he wrote. "And we're seeing it today — in the doctors and nurses, bone tired, doing what they can to save lives; the servicemembers, some of whom weren't even born 20 years ago, putting themselves at risk to save Americans and help refugees find a better life; the first responders battling roaring fires and rising waters to bring families to safety. They represent what is best in America, and what can and should bring us together.

"9/11 reminded us how so many Americans give of themselves in extraordinary ways — not just in moments of great crisis, but every single day. Let's never forget that, and let's never take them for granted. #NeverForget911," Barack concluded.