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‘Remember Who We Are’; FNC’s Harris Faulkner Issues Powerful Reminder About 9/11



Speaking Friday afternoon on FNC’s Outnumbered, co-host Harris Faulkner gave an emotional plea on the 19th anniversary of the Islamic terror attacks on September 11, 2001, imploring views to remember the “connective tissues that we all felt when this happened” in these divisive times because “[w]e promised we would never forget and part of never forgetting…is remembering who we are in those big moments.”

Co-host Melissa Francis led in by telling Faulkner that this anniversary in 2020 “feels like even more than ever before we need this day, as sorrowful as it is, to remind us of the unity of America of the togetherness that’s possible.”

 

 

Faulkner replied that was where she was and stated that, every year, she sits in her family room and watches the anniversary coverage “and then I am there for hours,” including the readings of names as it included her uncle Eddie Dillard (who was on American Airlines Flight 77 that hit the Pentagon).

She remarked how, for the names at The World Trade Centers, names are etched around the footprint that visitors “leav[e] items…but they are also taking pieces of paper and etching their loved one’s names” with one she has “hanging in my home.”

Speaking more broadly about the feelings of fear, heartbrokenness, and strength on and after that day, Faulkner challenged viewers who were alive then to remember how, despite our differences, we are a united people:

That connective tissue that we all felt when this happened is what we need to remind ourselves of right now as we bicker, and fight, and divide ourselves further. We promised we would never forget and part of never forgetting, Melissa, is remembering who we are in those big moments.

She added that along with “never forget[ting] those we lost,” we should also remember the decisive actions and fortitude of those in power that day and the recollections of people like panelist and then-White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer as Americans need to know “what was next for us.”

Faulkner saved her thesis and challenge to viewers for the end of her comments:

We learn about [what our heroes and leaders did] but we have our role individually. We’re supposed to remain intact and resilient and believe that we will be better, no matter what the circumstances. And I challenge people today, when you say you will never forget, remember that. Remember that. Remember who we are. 

Earlier in the A-block, Francis went to Fleischer and remarked about how, despite what would be years of unfair criticism, President George W. Bush remained calm in front of those Florida elementary school students after having been told by Chief of Staff Andy Card about the plane hitting the South Tower.

Fleischer gave his recollection of that moment as well as how, while painful to relive them, his play-by-play tweeting of what he went through with the President have helped “keep history alive” (click “expand”):

FRANCIS: You know, one thing, when you found out, you held up a pad to the President to not say anything yet. And I know there was some criticism for that later down the road. But in this day when people speak too quickly and tweet too quickly and say the wrong things, that really — that memory jumps out at me. The idea of, it was such a serious thing and I think you said right before that the President was one of the only people who wasn’t watching television by that point in time cause he was with kids. He was at a school. Tell us about that. 

FLEISCHER: Yeah, there’s so many recollections come flowing back and frankly the most important one is the sadness. It’s the realization of how many thousands of people lost loved ones, killed, slaughtered the day by Islamic terrorists….[W]hat I tried to do with the tweets is it just struck me years later with iPhones, and how easy it was to take a picture of something and send it out, I reconstructed the day as I went through it and tried to do it down to the minute when things happen so people could go through what I went through, what other people on the White House staff went through and what the President went through. And to this day, what impacts me the most about doing these tweets is when schoolteacher send me notes and I get a lot of them saying they use it to teach history to their classrooms, to their kids, and that kind of inspires me to keep doing this cause it’s sad. It’s not something I look forward to doing or like doing. It’s actually – it’s heavy. When teachers tell me that this helps keep history alive and makes it interesting for their students, that has a big impact on me and I do it. 

(….)

FLEISCHER: During then – the reading event as you alluded to earlier, he was in that room while almost everyone else in the world was now watching TV and he was reading to those schoolchildren, listening to the school children read back to him when the second tower was hit and now everybody in America knew that it was a terrorist attack except for the president, until Andy walked in and whispered in his ear, interrupted a presidential event which is remarkable, whispered in his ear: “Second plane had hit the second tower. America was under attack.”

FRANCIS: Yeah, we – we have that picture on the screen right now and – and that is a picture I think that’s burned into so many memories. You can really just look at the President’s face and I think see him trying to remain calm and not show it, but you can see in his eyes I think how stunned he is.

To see the relevant FNC transcript from September 11, click “expand.”

FNC’s Outnumbered
September 11, 2020
12:06 p.m. Eastern

MELISSA FRANCIS: And Ari, you know, every time I see you, I think about the time about 14 years afterwards I think it was when you live tweeted your experience from that day. And we all wonder what it was like to be with the President then. And – and so many of the things you tweeted were so staggering. You know, one thing, when you found out, you held up a pad to the President to not say anything yet. And I know there was some criticism for that later down the road. But in this day when people speak too quickly and tweet too quickly and say the wrong things, that really — that memory jumps out at me. The idea of, it was such a serious thing and I think you said right before that the President was one of the only people who wasn’t watching television by that point in time cause he was with kids. He was at a school. Tell us about that. 

FLEISCHER: Yeah, there’s so many recollections come flowing back and frankly the most important one is the sadness. It’s the realization of how many thousands of people lost loved ones, killed, slaughtered the day by Islamic terrorists who attacked our country and put us on a path to war. As a New Yorker, it’s especially poignant to me. I remember going to Windows on the World for lunch with my family. There’s a lot to remember on that day. But Melissa, you know, what I tried to do with the tweets is it just struck me years later with iPhones, and how easy it was to take a picture of something and send it out, I reconstructed the day as I went through it and tried to do it down to the minute when things happen so people could go through what I went through, what other people on the White House staff went through and what the President went through. And to this day, what impacts me the most about doing these tweets is when schoolteacher send me notes and I get a lot of them saying they use it to teach history to their classrooms, to their kids, and that kind of inspires me to keep doing this cause it’s sad. It’s not something I look forward to doing or like doing. It’s actually – it’s heavy. When teachers tell me that this helps keep history alive and makes it interesting for their students, that has a big impact on me and I do it. 

FRANCIS: It is really hard and it’s different that you were there. You know, I’m a New Yorker, I have a hard time going I’m watching this because it’s too close to home. It doesn’t get that much easier. One of the details, you know, that you talk about it from a historical perspective, one of the details my kids have seized upon from your account was the idea that anywhere the President goes, there is a room where he can go with phones. I mean, help me finish this, kind of a room where he can go. It’s almost a situation room. Tell us about that. 

FLEISCHER: Right. It’s remarkable the infrastructure that’s built around all presidents and it goes back to the cold war. So, in the case of a Soviet attack or a Chinese attack, a missile attack, the president can do everything you need to do to protect the country. So, everywhere he goes outside the white house, even if it’s just for 10 minutes, there is a secure room set up, guarded by the Secret Service, that has secure lines inside that room so the president can work the phones and no adversary can listen in on his conversations. That day, September 11, 2001, was the first time in the nine months I had been in the White House that President Bush ever had to go into the holding room and use one of those secure lines. He got the word. And so, you know, we got the word, the first – once we got out of the motorcade in Florida, a plane hit the World Trade Center. That’s all that we knew. He got on one of those secure lines Condi Rice was holding for him and we didn’t know anything at that point. We thought maybe it was just a small aircraft and the pilot had a heart attack and somehow it hit the World Trade Center. During then — the reading event as you alluded to earlier, he was in that room while almost everyone else in the world was now watching TV and he was reading to those schoolchildren, listening to the school children read back to him when the second tower was hit and now everybody in America knew that it was a terrorist attack except for the president, until Andy walked in and whispered in his ear, interrupted a presidential event which is remarkable, whispered in his ear: “Second plane had hit the second tower. America was under attack.”

FRANCIS: Yeah, we – we have that picture on the screen right now and – and that is a picture I think that’s burned into so many memories. You can really just look at the president’s face and I think see him trying to remain calm and not show it, but you can see in his eyes I think how stunned he is.

(….)

12:14 p.m. Eastern

FRANCIS: You know, this year it feels like even more than ever before we need this day, as sorrowful as it is, to remind us of the unity of America of the togetherness that’s possible. I don’t know. What are your thoughts on that? 

HARRIS FAULKNER: You know, that’s exactly where I lived today. I – I always say every year, and in this is the 19th year, I’ll sit very quietly in my family room. You know, the kids are in school. I’ll just sit there and I’ll watch just a little bit of the coverage and then I am there for hours. And I sat and I watched, and when they got to the later C’s, I said, “okay, they’re about to get to the Ds in the name reading” and my uncle Eddie Dillard goes by and I have now watched it enough. I know all the names around his. I’ve met people at the memorial who etch the names. You see how they’re in – in the granite. Some people are doing it right now. They’re leaving items there but they are also taking pieces of paper and etching their loved one’s names. I have one hanging in my home. That connective tissue that we all felt when this happened is what we need to remind ourselves of right now as we bicker, and fight, and divide ourselves further. We promised we would never forget and part of never forgetting, Melissa, is remembering who we are in those big moments. It’s not just about never forget those we lost, which is so critical. And I love hearing Ari Fleischer talk about the back scene of what was going on with those who were tasked with protecting the rest of us cause we didn’t know what was happening next, or anywhere in America. We didn’t know. But the brain trust and the big hearts and the big vision that was there and Ari, you were part of it, to communicate it to the world what was next for us as Americans. We learn about that but we have our role individually. We’re supposed to remain intact and resilient and believe that we will be better, no matter what the circumstances. And I challenge people today, when you say you will never forget, remember that. Remember that. Remember who we are.



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