President Trump Proclaims Patriot Day: My Personal Remembrance of September 11th at the Pentagon


By Robbin Laird

President Trump highlighted the importance of September 11th for the United States in a White House proclamation.

On September 10, 2020, the White House issued this proclamation on patriot day, 2020:

In 2001, our Nation, united under God, made an unbreakable promise never to forget the nearly 3,000 innocent Americans who were senselessly killed on September 11.  On this sacred day — Patriot Day — we solemnly honor that commitment.  As the bells toll, we call by name those who perished in the terrorist attacks in New York, New York; Arlington, Virginia; and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  In cities and towns across our great country, we stand in solidarity to remember the victims and mourn their stolen hopes and dreams.

On a day that began as ordinary as any other, terrorists carrying out a sadistic plan murdered thousands of our fellow compatriots.  With shock and disbelief, we watched our first responders, encumbered by heavy equipment and hindered by debris and smoke, rush with conviction and courage into the void to rescue those in despair.  With pride and sorrow, we felt the tremendous bravery of those aboard Flight 93, who summoned the courage to charge the terrorists in a counterattack that saved countless American lives.  As the day closed, America steadied its resolve to hold accountable those who had attacked us and to ensure it would never happen again.

The courage, heroism, and resilience Americans displayed on 9/11, and in its aftermath, are perpetual testaments to the spirit of our country.  While our Nation was anguished by this attack, the grit displayed that day — the very essence of America — was a reminder that our citizens have never failed to rise to the occasion.  Heroes sprang into action in the face of great peril to help save their fellow Americans.  Many laid down their lives.  As we reflect on the events of that September morning, let us recommit to embrace the stalwart bravery displayed and reaffirm our dedication to defending liberty from all who wish to deny it.

To fulfill our collective promise never to forget, we impart the memory of that fateful day to our children and grandchildren.  The smoke that rose from the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the Pennsylvania field carried away the souls of innocent Americans.  As we recall the images of our American Flag raised from the ashes of Ground Zero and the Pentagon, we are reminded that good triumphs over evil.  We recommit ourselves to fortifying our cherished American values so that future generations will know in their souls that the United States is the land of the free and the home of the brave.

This Patriot Day, we commemorate the lives of those who perished on September 11, 2001, we pray for the families who carry on their legacies, and we honor the unmatched bravery of our Nation’s first responders.  We also commend those who, in the days and years following the attack, answered the call to serve our country and continue to risk their lives in defense of the matchless blessings of freedom.

By a joint resolution approved December 18, 2001 (Public Law 107-89), the Congress designated September 11 of each year as “Patriot Day.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 11, 2020, as Patriot Day.  I call upon all departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States to display the flag of the United States at half-staff on Patriot Day in honor of the innocent people who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.  I invite the Governors of the United States and its Territories and interested organizations and individuals to join in this observance.  I call upon the people of the United States to participate in community service in honor of the innocent people we lost that day and to observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time to honor those victims who perished as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this tenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.


You might have missed this in today’s press coverage, but those of us who lived through the events thank the President for the Patriot Day proclomation.

And in an article which I originally published on Breaking Defense on September 11, 2011, I recalled those events from the perspective of being in the Pentagon that day.

That article follows:

Early on the morning of September 11th, I had an appointment in the Pentagon with a senior Pentagon official.

I got there a bit early, and parked just outside the Defense Secretary’s office.

As I was sitting in the office, the TV was showing the story of an airliner plowing into the World Trade Center.

I asked one of the folks in the office, whether they were concerned about a similar event on the Pentagon or the White House.

The person said that “we do not know if this is simply an accident.”

As an ex-New Yorker, I was sure this was not.

I went into my meeting.

Suddenly, I felt the building rock.

It felt like an accident in the ground floor area of the Pentagon.

When buses used to come into the Pentagon directly underneath, such a crash might be possible.

But, of course, I remembered that buses were no longer coming inside.

We went outside to see what was happening.

People were running around the Pentagon, and I exited the main door to the parking lot. General Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld passed me going back into the building.

I got into my car to drive home to our house which is close to the Pentagon.

We were stopped on Interstate 395 by the police as fire trucks and related equipment rushed to the Pentagon.

As I sat in my car, I looked over to see the plane fitted inside the Pentagon.

Unfortunately, I did not have a camera with me, for much more of the plane survived the initial impact than was later reported.

FBI Photo Reproduced by Daily Mail September 10 2017.

When I got home, I found my wife and children more than upset by developments.

It turns out that the plane had flown low over our house on the way to strike the Pentagon.

And my little girl, who was 3 at the time, kept talking about the plane which “almost hit me.”

Of course, for this generation of Arlington children, this would be a traumatic event they would never forget.

My mind went back to a similar event in France in the mid-1990s when my French wife and I were there for the holidays.

In a dry run, terrorists had seized a plane to try to fly into the Eiffel Tower.

Fortunately, the French special forces had successfully killed the terrorists when they had to land and be refueled in the south of France.

Shortly after the attacks, I took a train to New York to appear on 60 Minutes to discuss the French approach to counter-terrorism.

I went to school in New York at Columbia University so knew Manhattan well.

When I went to school there was no World Trade Center.

As the train pulled into New York, the World Trade Center was again not there.

It was as if a generation of redefining New York through this new building had magically disappeared.

Extinguishing the flames: The effort by firefighters to bring the fire under control captures on the morning of the attack. FBI photo released and published by Daily Mail on September 10, 2017.

For several days after the attack on the Pentagon, we could smell the smoke and remains of the attack in our area of Arlington.

That pungent smell will linger in my mind and heart forever.

The experience is more powerful than any response to terrorism could be.

Still, when I stand to applaud American servicemen and women at games at National Park there is some sense of cloture.

But not enough.

Video: President Trump and The First Lady Participate in a Flight 93 National Memorial Nineteenth Anniversary Observance