TRANSCRIPT: Majority Leader Schumer Remarks At Congressional Remembrance Ceremony Marking 20 Years Since The Terror Attacks On September 11

September 13, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today delivered remarks at the Congressional Remembrance Ceremony marking 20 years since the terror attacks on September 11, 2001. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:

Twenty years ago, on a beautiful day – much like this one – our country, our people changed forever.

In just over an hour, two planes collided into the towers of the World Trade Center. A third struck the west side of the Pentagon, and a fourth crashed down in a field in Pennsylvania. The worst act of terrorism in our nation's history. I remember clearly what it was like. 

President Bush sent then-Senator Clinton and I in a plane to go back to New York the day after. The smell of death hung in the air. And the scene – I'll never forget and think of all the time – hundreds, hundreds of frightened, scared, worried people were holding up makeshift little posters and signs with pictures. Have you seen my brother, Bill? Have you seen my daughter, Joan? I still remember the people I knew who perished. A guy I played basketball with in Brooklyn who was on Flight 93. A businessman who helped me on the way up. A firefighter I did blood drives with, and so many just average folks. Good Americans, good New Yorkers in that tower. Cooks and waiters, clerks, health care workers, government workers, financial executives.

This most vicious act—one of the most vicious acts ever in humankind—spared nobody. Spared nobody. I called on Americans to wear the flag the day after. I still wear this flag every day in remembrance of those who were lost.

Now, it's been a long road since 9/11. Our country has changed in ways we could have scarcely imagined back then. But one thing does not change: our obligation to remember and honor every single American we lost that day.

We honor the memory of the parents who never came home, the friends never seen, and the countrymen and women taken too soon from our midst. We mourn also for those lost in the aftermath of the attack. The first responders who, like our armed forces, thought not of themselves but of their fellow citizens, as they rushed to danger, and went to work at Ground Zero in the pile. They represented the best, the very best, of what it means to be an American. We remember the legions of firefighters and cops and union workers from the building trades and rescue workers who worked the pile only to become sick years later, far too many of them ultimately passing from their illnesses. More have died of those illnesses, unfortunately, than those who died at the Towers.

To the first responders who survived: we hold a special obligation to care for their health and the health of their loved ones. And finally, we remember and honor all of our military members injured and killed in the service of their country. As our troops make their return home from abroad, let us commit to always care for them too, to care for their families, to never, ever lose sight of the sacrifice they made.

My friends, the world has not been the same since the attacks of September 11th. The loss of that day can never, never be fully recovered.

But 20 years later, let us not forget that for all its horrors September 11th also revealed something fundamental and powerful about the American spirit. It was something revealed by the bravery of the first responders who worked at Ground Zero, by the scores of people who lined up in blood drives and gathered in prayer vigils, by a man, as I remember, whose shoe store two blocks north of the Towers and after the attack just gave shoes out freely to all those who had walked by, who had escaped from the rubble because they didn't have shoes as they tried to rush down the stairs.

In short, September 11th revealed the fundamental goodness, courage, and resiliency of the American people. It's a resiliency that brought my city back after so many counted her out. A few months after 9/11, people said New York will never come back. But just a few years after 9/11, you could walk through Lower Manhattan and marvel at how she was thriving more prosperously than ever.

Twenty years later, twenty years later, let us work together to keep tapping into that unique American sense of resiliency. There's no better way to honor those we lost that day. There's no better way to fulfill our promise, now more important than ever, to never forget. God bless all of you. God bless America.