9/11 Quotes: 18 Quotes for the 18th Anniversary

Deborah Hansen Contributor
9/11 Quotes
Read Time: approx. 3:52

9/11 Quotes: The September 11 attacks (also referred to as 9/11) were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The attacks killed 2,996 people and injured over 6,000 others. Additional people died of 9/11-related cancer and respiratory diseases in the months and years following the attacks. Below are eighteen 9/11 quotes to help us never forget one of the most defining days in American history.


1. 9/11 Quotes: Billy Collins

Billy Collins, US Poet Laureate from 2001-2003 and a native New Yorker, wrote the poem The Names to honor the nearly 3000 people who perished in the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001. Twenty-six victims’ names are contained within the poem, one name for each letter of the alphabet. Collins read the poem at a special joint session of Congress on September 6, 2002.

The Names (Excerpt):

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,
workers, mothers,
and fathers,

The bright-eyed
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.

Names wheeled
into the dim warehouse
of memory.

So many names, there
is barely room on
the walls of the heart.”

cityscapes during nighttime

9/11 Quotes: 18 Quotes for the 18th Anniversary

2. 9/11 Quotes: Sandy Dahl

Sandy Dahl, was the wife of Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl, Captain of United Airlines Flight 93. The airplane was hijacked the morning of September 11th and crashed into a field in Pennsylvania killing all aboard less than an hour later. It is believed the intended target was the US Capitol Building in Washington D.C., but the hijackers were overcome by passengers long enough to divert the plane.

Sandy Dahl became a public speaker after her husband’s death on 9/11, with the goal of making sure the passengers of Flight 93 and their heroism are never forgotten. She also founded a scholarship for young pilots. Sandy Dahl died of an accidental drug overdose in 2012.

“If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.” – Sandy Dahl

3. 9/11 Quotes: Deepak Chopra

Deepak Chopra, M.D is an author and founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing located in southern California.

“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

4. 9/11 Quotes: Barbara Olson

Barbara Olson was a CNN commentator who was flying from Washington DC to Los Angeles on American Airlines Flight 77 on September 11th.  She called her husband, Solicitor General Theodore Olson, from the plane as events unfolded, telling him that the plane had been hijacked. She related that all passengers had been sent to the back of the plane, and then asked him for advice. Hijackers crashed it intentionally into the Pentagon with 125 people working in the building killed, as were the 64 crew, passengers, and hijackers.

“What do I tell the pilots to do?” – Barbara Olson

closeup photo of white rose flower

9/11 Quotes: 18 Quotes for the 18th Anniversary

5. 9/11 Quotes: Fred Eichler

Fred Eichler was in the World Trade Center at the time of the attack on September 11th and watched the plane hit the tower. Eichler is credited with saving the life of Jonathan Judd who worked on the 85th floor.  Rudd ended up in Eichler’s office on the 83rd floor when he had to run from an explosion in the elevators nearby. Fred kept Rudd calm until firefighters led them down the stairs as the building collapsed above them. Both escaped safely.

“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. Maybe I eyeballed Mohammed Atta, the pilot, but I can’t be sure.”  – Fred Eichler

6. 9/11 Quotes: Madeline Amy Sweeney

Madeline Amy Sweeney was a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to strike the Towers on September 11th. She called her supervisor as soon as she realized the plane was being hijacked and provided information about the terrorists that gave the F.B.I. valuable lead time in their subsequent investigation. Her husband, Michael Sweeney later said that Madeline would not have considered herself a hero. “She would have said she was just doing her job,” he said.

“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…” – Madeline Amy Sweeney

blue body of water near high rise concrete building at nighttime

9/11 Quotes: 18 Quotes for the 18th Anniversary

7. 9/11 Quotes: Stanley Praimnath

Stanley Praimnath has been found to be the only survivor from the impact zone of the World Trade Center on September 11th. He was riding the elevator up to his office on the 81st floor at Fuji Bank that morning, and was not aware the other tower had been hit by a plane. He continued on to his office when he learned what had happened and then watched the second plane fly straight at him, its wing striking less than 20 feet away from  His office exploded around him. Brian Clark, an executive vice-president with Euro Brokers and a fire warden in the building, heard Praimnath’s cries for help and together they made their way out of the rubble.

“I still have the shoes I wore to work that day.  The soles are melted and they’re caked in ash.  I keep them in a shoebox with the word “deliverance” written all around it.  They’re kind of like my ark, a reminder of God’s presence and the life I owe to him.” – Stanley Praimnath

8. 9/11 Quotes: Jeff Parness

Jeff Parness is the founder of New York Says Thank You, an organization started to help communities recover from a disaster. Parness was moved to start the organization because of the assistance given to his hometown of New York City as a result of September 11th. To date, over 600,000 volunteers have donated their time to NYSTY.

“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

white rose

9/11 Quotes: 18 Quotes for the 18th Anniversary

9. 9/11 Quotes: Colin Powell

Colin Powell was the US Secretary of State on September 11th.

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

10. 9/11 Quotes: Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg became mayor of New York City less than 2 months after the September 11th attacks and served from 2002 to 2013. Bloomberg focused on rebuilding lower Manhattan and under his leadership, this goal was accomplished in less time than anyone expected. Also, he took over leadership of the development of National September 11 Memorial & Museum when it became mired in financial problems, and the memorial opened on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

On Sept. 11, 2001, thousands of first responders heroically rushed to the scene and saved tens of thousands of lives. More than 400 of those first responders did not make it out alive. In rushing into those burning buildings, not one of them asked, ‘What God do you pray to?’ What beliefs do you hold?’” – Michael Bloomberg

photo of half bloomed white rose flower

9/11 Quotes: 18 Quotes for the 18th Anniversary

 11. 9/11 Quotes: John Updike

 John Updike, American writer, watched the destruction of the World Trade Tower from a Brooklyn apartment nearby. As he and his wife watched the tragedy unfold in front of them, he recalls thinking that “this was not quite real,” that it must be a TV show.

“And then, within an hour, as my wife and I watched from the Brooklyn building’s roof, the south tower dropped from the screen of our viewing; it fell straight down like an elevator, with a tinkling shiver and a groan of concussion distinct across the mile of air. We knew we had just witnessed thousands of deaths; we clung to each other as if we ourselves were falling.” – John Updike

12. 9/11 Quotes: President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama was a lawyer, a professor and a state senator in Chicago, Illinois at the time of the attacks of 9/11. He recalls the day as being ordinary, at least until he arrived downtown for a legislative meeting. The news from New York began to filter in and this meeting was cancelled. “People gathered in the streets in Chicago, looking up at the sky and the Sears Tower, transformed from a workplace to a target,” he said in an interview several years later.

 “….. 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

13. 9/11 Quotes: Mary Kate McErlean

Mary Kate McErlean was 8 years old when her father, John McErlean, was killed on 9/11.

“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 way 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

14. 9/11 Quotes: Bruce Mann

Bruce Mann was an archaeologist trying to get home to Aberdeen, Scotland on September 11th and witnessed the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. He had been in the jungles of South America just prior to this fateful day and told this story to the BBC after the attacks.

“One thing which I can remember very clearly was walking past a fire station. It was an eerie sight. The station’s doors were open. The engines were gone and there were no firefighters, but there was an older fireman standing outside surrounded by a crowd of people and there were lit candles on the ground. Everyone stood in absolute silence. The scene seemed to be significant. Absence as a sign of loss can be very powerful.” – Bruce Mann

9/11 Quotes: 18 Quotes for the 18th Anniversary

15. 9/11 Quotes: Nicholas Spangler

Nicholas Spangler was a journalism student covering a primary election in downtown New York on September 11th. He witnessed a plane fly into the World Trade Center tower.

“I spoke with a man named Reyher Kelly who had been on the seventy-eighth floor, the sky lobby of WTC 2, when the plane hit.

[Kelly said] ‘We saw people fall out. I was getting into the elevator when it hit us. The explosion just knocked us down. Bill Hay was in WTC 1 on the fifty-fifth floor giving a lecture at the World Trade Institute when the first plane hit. The building started to rock, I looked out the window, saw all the debris falling and just left my laptop, my billfold, passport, plane tickets. They’re all gone.” – Nicholas Spangler

16. 9/11 Quotes: Melissa Whitworth

Melissa Whitworth is a feature writer for New York’s Daily Telegraph. She has lived and worked in NYC since 2001. She spoke with witnesses to “The Jumpers,” those people who were trapped in the Towers above the point of impact. This has been one of the most controversial issues surrounding events at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

“……it was impossible at first to see what it was that was falling. One witness said it looked like confetti.” Melissa Whitworth

17. 9/11 Quotes: President George W. Bush

President George W. Bush was president at the time of September 11th. Always a fervent supporter of first responders, he visited them as they worked immediately after the attacks.

“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 Bush

photo of concrete high-rise buildings

9/11 Quotes: 18 Quotes for the 18th Anniversary

18. 9/11 Quotes: President Bill Clinton

President Bill Clinton visited Shanksville, Pennsylvania in 2011 to attend a commemoration of Flight 93 with the families of those who died there on September 11th.

“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


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