Bush, Clinton speak at memorial for Flight 93
September 10th, 2011
03:56 PM ET
7 years ago

Bush, Clinton speak at memorial for Flight 93

(CNN) – Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton spoke solemnly Saturday at the unveiling of the memorial for victims of United Airlines Flight 93.

“With their brave decision, they launched the first counteroffensive in the war on terror,” said Bush, who appeared emotional as he spoke near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to families and friends of those who died in the crash.

All 40 passengers and crew members were killed after confronting hijackers aboard the Boeing 757 on the morning of September 11, 2001.

The hijacked plane, widely believed to be targeting the White House or the U.S. Capitol, crashed in a field outside Shanksville.

Recounting heroic details on the flight just moments before it ended, Bush said, “What happened above this Pennsylvania field ranks among the most courageous acts of American history.”

Bush, who served as commander in chief when the United States went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, said 9/11 proved that conditions in other countries could have an impact in American streets.

“It may be tempting to think it doesn’t matter what happens to a villager in Afghanistan or a child in Africa, but the temptation of isolation is deadly wrong,” Bush said.

He also told stories of unity in the days that followed the September 11 attacks and spoke to the intense political debates that have shaped Washington over much of the past decade.

“But Americans have never been defined by our disagreements,” Bush said. “Whatever challenges we face in the future … we must never allow our differences to harden into divisions.”

After ending his speech, Bush quickly walked back to his chair and sat down, while the audience gave him a standing ovation.

Clinton, vividly emotional, then walked to the podium to begin his speech but struggled to get through his first few sentences.

“Before President Bush came up to speak, I asked him if he was having a hard time, and he said, ‘I was doing fine until I looked at all of you’,” Clinton said, pointing to the audience.

In a speech laced with similar themes of unity and resilience, Clinton credited Bush and President Barack Obama for preventing another attack on American soil in the last decade – a statement that was met with strong applause.

“There has always been a special place in the common memory for people who deliberately, knowingly, certainly lay down their lives for other people to live,” Clinton said, referring to the victims of Flight 93.

Clinton, whose term ended just nine months before the attacks, compared the acts on the plane to the Battle of the Alamo, as well as the Spartan offense against the Persian Empire 2,500 years ago.

Both stories involved a small minority fighting against the odds for a larger cause.

“And 2,500 years from now, I hope and pray to God that people will still remember this,” Clinton said.

The former president closed his speech by announcing that he and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had agreed to hold a bipartisan event to raise more money for the memorial.

Filed under: 9/11 • Bill Clinton • George W. Bush
soundoff (85 Responses)
  1. Terry Brookman

    If the truth ever gets out the mainstream news will have to do their moderation from South America, perhaps the Clinton's and Bush family will let you camp out in their compounds, I hear they are not far from each other.

    September 11, 2011 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  2. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    If only the Clown from Crawford had listened during the two briefings with Clinton before taking office...................!!!

    September 11, 2011 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  3. Istina

    We will never forget 9/11 because the US gov never really wanted to discuss why we got attacked in the first place so we know nothing to forget. Excellent marketing campaign by the US gov.

    September 11, 2011 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  4. Ford Torney

    I was also disappointed the article did not mention Biden's speech. I thought they were all incredibly moving, and Biden's speech truly touched my heart. This article doesn't even begin to give the memorial or the ceremony justice. I actually cried watching the ceremony on TV today. It was beautiful and heart warming. 9/11, never forget.

    September 11, 2011 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  5. wtf

    George Bush = Guilty.

    September 11, 2011 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  6. Fred S.

    Johnson, Nixon
    Clinton, Bush.
    Same old, same old.

    September 11, 2011 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  7. Dan

    I was woken up by my mother that day. She was hysterical. My Dad was flying 4+ times a week, and we literally didn't know where in North America he was at any give time. Fortunately while he was in the air, he ended up stuck in LA for a little over a week. He was almost ready to rent a car, and drive 4,000 or so miles home. I was on a flight down the east coast a couple days after the flight ban was lifted.

    A few years later I was in London. I planned to be where two of the bombs went off, when they went off, but my girl friend wanted to sleep in. We get to the tube station a few minutes late to find bobbies with MP5s blocking access, in a nation where cops don't normally carry guns. We were on underground the next morning. I touched the back side of the sheet hiding the exploded bus from view. We walked around it to get to the British Museum.

    Being Scottish by decent, they can take my life, but they will never take my freedom.

    September 11, 2011 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  8. woof woof

    These two global puppets sold America out for the benifit of the New World Order, which will be headed by the anti christ papacy, right according to Bible prophecy.

    September 11, 2011 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  9. WilliamPenn

    Here's the little problem. Many of us who live in Pennsylvania recall that there were originally a whole bunch of witnesses who said they saw this plane shot down by a missile. It has always sickened me that those stories just conveniently "went away" and were replaced by the nonsense we're supposed to swallow here. Think about it. It is NOT respectful to these people to allow our so-called "leaders" to perpetrate a lie like this.

    September 11, 2011 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  10. Fred S.

    Grow up. It doesn’t matter what happens to a villager in Afghanistan or a child in Africa. The US should be isolated miltarily because it is dangerous. Complete isolation (like Bushama wants to do to Iran or Syria, for instance) is impossible. The US needs to make too much money from foreign trade in order to escape bancruptcy. That isolationism baloney from liars like Bush has always been phoney. Ending the interfering is not isolationism. Keeping it going and wasting trillions of more dollars on the military is.

    September 11, 2011 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  11. Dave A.

    Bush knew this was going to happen it's that simple.

    September 11, 2011 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  12. Fred S.

    Ah, guess what, Bill. You are the Persian Empire not Sparta. Alexander the Great finally destroyed your idiotic "system" based on the one god. In their case it was called "Ahura Mazda". The Persians also thought they could bring peace to the world by making everwhere, even Athens, part of a larger Persia. That is not how it turned out.

    September 11, 2011 02:28 am at 2:28 am |

    ""Lets Remember Pearl Harbor, Lets Remember 9/11, As We Pray For Our Loved Heros Who Are Now In Heaven""

    September 11, 2011 03:19 am at 3:19 am |
  14. lopaa

    Had there any bodies found at the site? Did any of the families got to bury the remains of their loved ones? I have not heard of that.

    September 11, 2011 03:28 am at 3:28 am |
  15. SpawnSF

    What upsets me still is that there are people out there that still believe in the conspiracy theory. That is, that the event was government planned! I'm not at all networked in government, but it's quite obvious that is was Al Qada...at least that's what it seems like 10 years later after it has been confirmed several times per our sources made available through prolific mediums. This is a great country, and it's something that we fail to teach new citizens of this country. Giving them a flag at their swearing of the oath is not enough!!!

    September 11, 2011 04:02 am at 4:02 am |
  16. Alas

    My heart is still with the victims; never must we allow the world to succumb to terrorists. RIP, brave heros and heriones.

    September 11, 2011 04:15 am at 4:15 am |
  17. meg

    Biden was also present and gave a wonderful speech, it's disappointing you didn't even name him in this article.

    September 11, 2011 04:27 am at 4:27 am |
  18. Sanjay

    9/11 attack on twin tower will always inspire world and mainly u.s.a alike pearl harbour attack raise u.s.a protect world for democrcy but never terrorist dictatorship injustice no matter what is the cost if democrcy alive all cost may be recover but not by terror or dictatorship.

    September 11, 2011 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  19. andy

    I sure wish an Ike Eisenhower was our President during these times. There would not have been a 9/11 and we would have long since eradicated the enemy and we would have seen steely God fearing resolve from him rather than inability to speak. A true leader of this nation

    September 11, 2011 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  20. Steve

    It boggles the mind that 10 years later neither memorial is complete. I mean..in that time we went to the moon for heaves sakes.

    September 11, 2011 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  21. Kris

    Bush: "If I had simply acted on the intelligence President Clinton handed me, none of this would have happened. But instead, I took 575 days off in my first term alone."

    September 11, 2011 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  22. N&W 1000

    Nice to see the two presidents together.
    Are there any kooks or nuts on this morning who will say 9/11 was an inside job?

    September 11, 2011 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  23. Scottt

    It is shameful that Bush even showed his face this day. Thirty-six days prior to 9/11 he was handed a national security briefing that was titled: Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside US. He said to the aide, "You've covered your ass, now get out." He continued on vacation, a month-long one after lest than a year in office. Ashcroft knew something:: he stayed off commercial planes. The FAA didn't; they had just loosened security since nothing had happened in so long. On the day Bush was STILL AWOL, in a kindergarden classroom, not at his job in the White House. He sat there stunned after getting the news. We should at least get our money back for paying this slacker. And now he wants to talk like he was in charge, that he did something positive like attacking someone else instead of bin Laden. Disgusting.

    September 11, 2011 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  24. Robin Bray

    And what about the loved ones killed on Iran Air Flight 655 shot down by U.S. missiles on 3 July 1988, over the Strait of Hormuz was flying from Bandar Abbas, Iran, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, when it was destroyed by the U.S. Navy's guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes, killing all 290 passengers and crew aboard, including 66 children. This was during the Iran iraq war when we were selling arms to Saddam's Iraq. Accident?

    September 11, 2011 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  25. clarke

    I will never forget 9/11 and what the people did on that flight knowing they would never live to tell about it. They were all heros. God Bless you all and may you forever rest in peace..

    September 11, 2011 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
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