Nine days after the September 11 attacks, while responders were still on the ground digging through the rubble, The Daily Show’s first episode of the new season aired. A visibly shaken Jon Stewart, who lived in Manhattan, spoke about the aftermath of this horrendous attack. He shared a story about being a child at school while the riots happened after the shooting of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He spoke about the unity he witnessed during those September days.
“The reason I don’t despair is because this attack happened, it’s not a dream. But, the aftermath of it, the recovery, is a dream realized. And, that is Martin Luther King’s dream. Whatever barriers we’ve put up are gone, even if it’s just momentary. And, we’re judging people, not by the color of their skin but the content of their character.”
Do you remember that unity? That feeling of togetherness we felt after being thrown into that darkness?
I certainly do. Some say it was some blind nationalism but, I don’t think so. Those feelings in those dark days were a mix of deep sadness and mourning, but also love and compassion for one other. Our hearts collectively ached for one another.
“Any fool can blow something up. Any fool can destroy. But, to see these guys, these firefighters, these policemen, and people from all over the country, literally with buckets, rebuilding. That, that is extraordinary. And, that’s why we’ve already won. They can’t. . .It’s light. It’s democracy. We’ve already won. They can’t shut that down.”
No one had the foresight to know that the right-wing would hijack the patriotism and love felt after those attacks and turn it into what is now a nationalist hate fest. We didn’t know in those early days that our broken hearts would be exploited for the support of an unjust war. We didn’t know that our fellow Americans would allow pain and fear to justify acts of torture in our names.
I wish we still had the unity and love felt during that awful time. We would be a better country if that had been sustained, rather than being replaced by many with fear and hate-mongering.
The sentiment in Stewart’s message from that day was pure. He concluded the monologue saying this:
“The view from my apartment was the World Trade Center. And, now it’s gone. They attacked this symbol of American ingenuity, and strength, and labor, and imagination, and commerce, and it’s gone. But, you know what the view is now? The Statue of Liberty. The view from the south of Manhattan is now the Statue of Liberty. You can’t beat that.”
Over the years, Jon Stewart has continued to fight for 9/11 victims and first responders. His heartfelt words and actions following that horrible day are commendable. They are something I won’t forget.
Watch Jon Stewart’s emotional response following the September 11 terrorist attack, here:
Featured image via video screen capture