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Tear-Jerking 09/11 Quotes That Will Bring Out the Patriot in Everyone

These 09/11 quotes will remind you of an America where we were all truly one nation worried about each other.

I had just started sleeping with the radio on when I was 18 years old. I would fall asleep listening to my alternative 90s music, thinking about how cool it was that I was an adult and no one could tell me I had to turn it off.

One morning, I woke up confused and shaken because I had the weirdest dream… I had dreamt that planes were crashing in New York and that we were under some kind of attack. My dream, as dreams often do, made little sense and seemed to be all over the place. 

I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and tried to shake the feeling of confusion and sadness. As I woke, I realized that the radio wasn’t playing music and instead of the DJ, they were broadcasting the news.

Night View of the City

Flight 11 had crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m., and at first, the news had reported it was an accident. They alerted President Bush at 8:50, but amidst all the confusion his advisors assumed it had been a tragic accident, even though Air Traffic Control had been aware of hijackers since 8:24.

They had notified the military and had deployed the Air National Guard to stabilize Flight 11. At 9:03, Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower. 

It was somewhere around this time that I woke up and realized what had happened. I was miles away in Billings, MT. Even though my mom lived in Montana now, she had grown up in NY; born and raised. I had been born in Brooklyn and lived there until I was five. Once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker, and my mom was devastated.

Reading these 09/11 quotes from the moments the tragedy unfolded always brings tears to my eyes. Remembering how Americans all over the country banded together and displayed exactly what a united nation looks like reminds me of how proud to be an American I once was. 

09/11 Quotes from our politicians.

1. “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.” — Rudy Giuliani

2. “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 Barack Obama

3. “Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children.” — President George W. Bush

4. “Remember the hours after Sept. 11 when we came together as one! It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.” — John Kerry

5. “We will win this struggle—not for glory, nor wealth, nor power, but for justice, for freedom, and for peace… so help us God.” — Tom Harkin

6. “September 11 is one of our worst days but it brought out the best in us. It unified us as a country and showed our charitable instincts and reminded us of what we stood for and stand for.” — Lamar Alexander

7. “Now, we have inscribed a new memory alongside those others. It’s a memory of tragedy and shock, of loss and mourning. But not only of loss and mourning. It’s also a memory of bravery and self-sacrifice, and the love that lays down its life for a friend ― even a friend whose name it never knew.” — President George W. Bush

8. “September 11 impressed upon us that life is a precious gift…. And I think we all have a duty to devote at least a small portion of our daily lives to ensuring that neither America nor the world ever forgets September 11.” — Bill Frist

9. “The lesson of 9/11 is that America is truly exceptional. We withstood the worst attack of our history, intended by our enemies to destroy us. Instead, it drew us closer and made us more united. Our love for freedom and one another has given us a strength that surprised even ourselves.” — Rudy Giuliani

10. “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

11. “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.” — Vice President Joe Biden

12. “We’re going to find out who did this and we’re going after the bastards.” — Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

13. “One of the worst days in American history saw some of the bravest acts in American history. We’ll always honor the heroes of 09/11. Here at this hallowed place, we pledge that we will never forget their sacrifice.” — President George W. Bush

09/11 quotes from military, legal, and financial experts

14. “You can be sure that the American spirit will prevail over this tragedy.” Colin Powell

15. “Americans never quit.” — Douglas MacArthur

16. “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.” — Michael Bloomberg

17. “True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.” — Clarence Darrow

18. “September 11, 2001, seems destined to be the watershed event of our lives and the greatest test for our democracy in our lifetimes.” — Lt. Col. Shelton F. Leskford, U.S. Marine Corps

Inspirational and moving 09/11 quotes

19. “For me and my family personally, September 11 was a reminder that life is fleeting, impermanent, and uncertain. Therefore, we must make use of every moment and nurture it with affection, tenderness, beauty, creativity, and laughter.” — Deepak Chopra

20. “What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.” — David Levithan

21. “September 11, 2001, revealed heroism in ordinary people who might have gone through their lives never called upon to demonstrate the extent of their courage.” — Geraldine Brooks

22. “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

23. “Commending the victims to almighty God’s mercy, I implore his strength upon all involved in rescue efforts and in caring for the survivors.” — Pope John Paul II

24. “It’s the nature of the world that most people have moved on, but the people directly involved with 9/11, for them, twice a day it’s 9/11.” — Robert Reeg, former FDNY firefighter.

25. “We completely condemn this very dangerous attack, and I convey my condolences to the American people, to the American president and to the American administration, not only in my name but on behalf of the Palestinian people.” — Palestinian President Yasser Arafat

26. “We join with our fellow Americans in prayer for the killed and injured.” — Imam at the Al-Abidin Mosque in Queens, speaking to his congregation

09/11 quotes from survivors, victims, and their families

27. “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.

28. “On September 11, I always take the day off. I want to be in a peaceful, quiet place praying. It is a day I both mourn and celebrate.” — Genelle Guzman-McMillan, 9/11 Survivor

29. “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

30. “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

31. “My father was the best person I have ever known and though he was taken from me on that day, nothing and no one will ever be able to take away the eight years and two days of my life that I shared with him. After my father died, and after I lost so much, I promised myself that I would never lose who I am as a person — the person that my father brought me up to be… If you owe someone an apology, tell them you are sorry today. If someone asks for your forgiveness, forgive them. Start being the person you always wanted to be today and don’t waste your time worrying about tomorrow.” — Mary Kate McErlean, whose father was killed on 9/11 when she was 8 years old.

32. “My son, firefighter Leon Smith Jr., who was the sunshine of my life. He gave his life so that others could live. I love you, I miss you, and we’ll meet again soon.” — Irene Smith spoke lovingly of her son, a member of Ladder Co. 118 FDNY, during a memorial service in New York

33. “We’re young men; we’re not ready to die.” — Kevin Cosgrove, a business executive who was on the 105th floor of the south tower moments before it collapsed

34. “I may never be normal again. But this is my life now. I have to live it.”  Manu Dhingra, 27, a securities broker who suffered burns over a third of his body but was released from the hospital Oct. 2, 2001.

35. “’Most of the time it was even – right in line with the window we were staring out of. Then it was almost on us. I could make out the seams on the wings and all the American Airlines markings. ‘I looked right into the cockpit, but I couldn’t really make out the figures. They were tiny windows, and the sun was shining on them. Maybe I eyeballed Mohammed Atta, the hijack pilot, but I can’t be sure.’” — Survivor Fred Eichler.

36. “Numerous civilians in all stairwells, numerous burn victims are coming down. We’re trying to send them down first… We’re still heading up.” — Capt. Patrick Brown

09/11 quotes from the hijackers and people on the planes that will make you cry

37. “We have some planes. Just stay quiet and you will be okay. We are returning to the airport. Nobody move, everything will be okay. If you try to make any moves, you’ll endanger yourself and the airplane.” — Mohamed Atta, American Airlines Flight 11 hijacker pilot, heard on a radio transmission while intending to send a message to the passengers.

38. “Hi, this is the captain. I would like you all to remain seated. There is a bomb on board and we are going back to the airport … Please remain quiet.” — Hijacker aboard United Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania

39. “What do I tell the pilots to do?” — Barbara Olson, CNN commentator, and a passenger on American Airlines Flight 77 during a cellphone call to her husband, Solicitor General Theodore Olson

40. “Something is wrong. We are in a rapid descent… we are all over the place. … I see water. I see buildings. We are flying low. We are flying very, very low. We are flying way too low. … Oh my God, we are way too low… Oh my God, we’re—” — Flight attendant Madeline Amy Sweeney describing the hijacking of American Airlines Flight 11 at the end of her phone call to a supervisor.

41. “Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.” — Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer, apparently as a signal to other passengers to attack the hijackers.

Which of these 09/11 quotes resonated with you best?

When I went to wake up my mom and tell her what had happened, I was so enraged I was ready to go join the armed forces. She talked me out of that. We experienced the stages of grief as a nation all over the matter of a few hours, and then we went through it repeatedly in the days that followed.

My favorite quote was the one from Jeff Parness, “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.” What happened on 09/12 was like nothing I have ever witnessed during my lifetime.

We were all truly united. We were all proud and fierce. We were all Americans, whether we had voted Republican or Democrat. I am saddened that it took an act of senseless terrorism to accomplish, but I miss that America. An America where we were all truly one nation worried about each other.

Which of these 09/11 quotes and sayings resonated with you best? Do you have any other inspirational quotes to add? Let us know in the comment section below.

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor
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