On September 11, 2001, almost 3,000 people lost their lives during the attacks at the Twin Towers, Pentagon and aboard United Airlines Flight 93. At 8:46 a.m. ET, American Airlines Flight 11 (traveling from Boston to Los Angeles) hit the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. At 9:03 a.m. ET, United Airlines Flight 175 (traveling from Boston to Los Angeles) hit the south tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. At 9:37 a.m. ET, American Airlines Flight 77 (traveling from Dulles, Virginia, to Los Angeles) hit the Pentagon Building in Washington. And at 10:03 a.m. ET, United Airlines Flight 93 (traveling from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco) crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Around the country, people pause to remember those who lost their lives on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, vowing to "never forget." Many find solace in 9/11 quotes and 9/11 memorial quotes. This year, on the 21st anniversary of the September 11 tragedy, remember and reflect with these powerful 9/11 quotes.
• "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 Obama in a 2011 radio address
• “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, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, in 2002
• “My older brother John lived [his life] in Technicolor. … When he walked in the door, the whole house lit up. And I’m sure heaven lit up when he got there too.”
—Anthoula Katsimatides at the World Trade Center site in 2005
Related: 9/11 Facts
• "You can be sure that the American spirit will prevail over this tragedy."
—Former United States Secretary of State Colin Powell
• “Five years from the date of the attack that changed our world, we’ve come back to remember the valor of those we lost—those who innocently went to work that day and the brave souls who went in after them. We have also come to be ever mindful of the courage of those who grieve for them, and the light that still lives in their hearts.”
—New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani at the World Trade Center site in 2006
Related: 100 Inspirational Quotes
• "The attacks of September 11th were intended to break our spirit. Instead we have emerged stronger and more unified. We feel renewed devotion to the principles of political, economic and religious freedom, the rule of law and respect for human life. We are more determined than ever to live our lives in freedom."
—Then-New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani
Related: 9/11 Memes
• “It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.”
—Senator John Kerry
• “One of the worst days in America’s history saw some of the bravest acts in Americans’ history. We’ll always honor the heroes of 9/11. And here at this hallowed place, we pledge that we will never forget their sacrifice.”
—President George W. Bush at the Pentagon in 2008
• “Ten years have passed since a perfect blue sky morning turned into the blackest of nights. Since then we’ve lived in sunshine and in shadow, and although we can never unsee what happened here, we can also see that children who lost their parents have grown into young adults, grandchildren have been born and good works and public service have taken root to honor those we loved and lost.”
—Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
• “My father, Norberto, was a pastry chef at Windows on the World in Tower One. For 10 years, he made many fancy and famous desserts, but the sweetest dessert he made was the marble cake he made for us at home. … Whenever we parted, Poppi would say, ‘Te amo. Vaya con Dios.’ And this morning, I want to say the same thing to you, Poppi. I love you. Go with God.”
—Catherine Hernandez at the World Trade Center site in 2008
• “What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.”
—Author David Levithan
• “With almost no time to decide, [your loved ones] gave the entire country an incalculable gift. They saved the Capitol from attack. They saved God knows how many lives. They saved the terrorists from claiming the symbolic victory of smashing the center of American government. … They allowed us to survive as a country that could fight terror and still maintain liberty and still welcome people from all over the world from every religion and race and culture as long as they shared our values, because ordinary people given no time at all to decide did the right thing.”
—President Bill Clinton in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, in 2011
• “We didn’t crumble after 9/11. We didn’t falter after the Boston Marathon. But we’re America. Americans will never, ever stand down. We endure. We overcome. We own the finish line.”
—Former Vice President Joe Biden
• "When Americans lend a hand to one another, nothing is impossible. We’re not about what happened on 9/11. We’re about what happened on 9/12."
—Jeff Parness, founder of New York Says Thank You
• "On this day... 19 years (September 10th) ago, 246 people went to sleep in preparation for their morning flights. 2,606 people went to sleep in preparation for work in the morning. 343 firefighters went to sleep in preparation for their morning shift. 60 police officers went to sleep in preparation for morning patrol. 8 paramedics went to sleep in preparation for the morning shift. None of them saw past 10:00 am Sept 11, 2001. In one single moment life may never be the same. As you live and enjoy the breaths you take today and tonight before you go to sleep in preparation for your life tomorrow, kiss the ones you love, snuggle a little tighter, and never take one second of your life for granted."
• "Last year, America’s poet laureate, Billy Collins, wrote a poem he called ‘The Names’ about the 2,792 who perished that day. Here are its closing lines:
Names etched on
the head of a pin.
One name spanning
a bridge, another
undergoing a tunnel.
A blue name needled
into the skin.
Names of citizens,
daughter, the quick son.
Alphabet of names in
a green field.
Names in the small tracks of birds.
Names lifted from a hat
Or balanced on
the tip of the tongue.
into the dim warehouse
So many names, there
is barely room on
the walls of the heart.”
—New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the World Trade Center site in 2003
The quotes from the World Trade Center site can be found in September Morning: Ten Years of Poems and Readings from the 9/11 Ceremonies New York City, compiled and edited by Sara Lukinson. Royalty revenue goes to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
Last updated July 2022
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