Quote of the Day:
Giving credit to his countrymen, Winston Churchill said after World War II, "It was the nation and the race dwelling all round the globe that had the lion heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar." George W. Bush was no Churchill. But after 9/11, he at least had the sense that he ought to try manfully to convey, as best he could, in speech and deed, the nation's lion heart. Our leaders today seem embarrassed to even consider doing any such thing.
–Bill Kristol in the Weekly Standard
Sunday is the fifteenth anniversary of September 11.
Kristol began his piece invoking the iconic image of George W. Bush that we all remember–the president standing in the rubble of the Twin Towers in a hard hat and with a megaphone. We remember what he said when some in the crowd shouted that they could not hear his voice:
“I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people—and the people who knocked these buildings down—will hear all of us soon."
Reuters has an excellent story recalling the day based on the notes scribbled on the spot by then White House press secretary Ari Fleischer. One particular moment:
"We’re at war," Bush told Vice President Dick Cheney. Hanging up and turning to his aides, he added: "When we find out who did this, they're not going to like me as president. Somebody's going to pay."
For Peggy Noonan, who has penned a beatiful and elegaic piece on that terrible day, what stands out is the people trapped in the Twin Towers who in their last minutes phoned home to leave messages of love. Peggy writes:
What do I think about when I think about that day? The firemen who climbed “the stairway to Heaven” with 50, 60 pounds of gear. The people who called from Windows on the World and said: “I just want you to know I love you.” The men on the plane who tried to take the cockpit of Flight 93 before it went down in a Pennsylvania field: “Let’s roll.”
She also thinks of Welles Crowther, the man with the red bandana, 24, who found the stairs to safety but led or carried so many people to them that he lost his own life that day. He was one of the many brave and valiant souls who died saving others that day.
He never made it home. His family hoped, grieved, filled out forms. On the Friday after 9/11 Alison stood up from her desk and suddenly she knew Welles was there, right behind her. She could feel his energy, his force; it was him. She didn’t turn. She just said: Thank you. She knew he was saying he was OK. After that she didn’t dare hope he’d be found alive because she knew he wouldn’t.
They found him six months later, in the lobby of the south tower. He’d made it all the way down. He was found in an area with many firefighters’ remains. It had been the FDNY command post. It was where assistant fire chief Donald Burns was found. He and his men had probably helped evacuate thousands. Welles could have left and saved his own life—they all could have. But they’d all stayed. “He was helping,” said Alison.
We at IWF will especially remember, Barbara Olson, one of our founders, a pundit and author at the top of her game on September 11, 2001, who perished on the plane that flew into the Pentagon.
Politico has a tick tock of the "strange, harrowing" journey of those flying on Air Force One with Bush in the eight hours after immediately the attack.