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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 9/8/21

Guests: Bjorn Johnson, David Belton, Claire McCaskill, Paul Rieckhoff, Zainab Salbi, Jeff Gardere


Memory Box: Echoes of 9/11: In the wake of 9/11, artist Ruth Sergel set up a plywood video booth in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, Pa. Hundreds of eyewitnesses shared their intimate recollections in the aftermath of the attacks. Now, twenty years later, they return to reflect upon the past two decades and how they`ve moved forward.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Watch, there`s a little (inaudible) here.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can look right into the (inaudible).



LISA RIDD: My name is Lisa Ridd. It`s Tuesday, April 27, 2021. It`s very surreal to be back here and to be talking about everything that`s happened and changed since then. And then also specifically, the experience of recording that video in this booth.

Hi, my name is Lisa Knappen. And today is September 10, 2002.

It was 364 days after September 11 that I went in, and I recorded that video. And I know that in those 364 days, I didn`t like, deal with my feelings about Lindsey, or even the day of September 11 itself.

I`ve avoided talking to my friends, talking to my family, talking to coworkers, but everything that happened, just because I`m not ready. I mean, it`s the worst thing I`ve ever seen. And the worst thing I hope to see.

For years, it was too hard to even see a picture of you know, that image that was like, everywhere. I mean, just the idea of going back and trying to process. All of that honestly felt impossible.

But then I went to the memorial. The way that the water moves, all of those names around it just a transformative experience. I was then, like, so much more at peace with sharing my feelings with my kids. And they hear stories about her all the time. I don`t know I wonder if it will help them one day like when they -- there`s somebody who they love they will be able to remember that like I had a friend too. I loved and I lost. And it`s OK to be sad. It`s OK to grieve. Because you can also live your life and you can love your life and you can be happy too.

MARY ADAMS: Mary Adams and today is April 30, 2021. It wasn`t easy for me to mourn my brother. You know I wasn`t good at it. So, I remember walking back into work, and probably about two weeks later. I`m a social worker by trade. For girls that couldn`t live at home. And gradually throughout the day, one by one would come in and check in, say hello, and maybe give me a hug, nod at me.


For these girls, a brother being randomly killed on a beautiful Tuesday wasn`t unusual. Many of them had lost brothers, siblings, cousins, parents, and got it, they understood. They knew I wasn`t fixed or healed in two weeks` time. They knew where I was. And in turn, they showed me a path. They did get up and go to school. Had some rough times, they had a lot of joy. And so, I learned that you`re never going to get just all joy and all laughter. So, we have to accept the heartache and find a way to integrate it and live with it and still move forward.

You know, he`s still really in my heart. And he always will be. I ride my bike every day to work by ground zero, and I swear off my heart, you know. Now, I don`t hate watching that video, bringing me back to so close to 2001. Feels almost good. Feels as if I`m just closer to Charlie. I must say almost as if he could be right there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Perfect, thank you.

DONALD BYRD, CHOREOGRAPHER: It was heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking. I mean, thinking about the people that died. And there`s, you know, it was -- it just stayed with me. In particular, the people jumping from the building. My name is Donald Byrd. I`m a choreographer living here in New York City.

I made a dance. So that was kind of directly related to how I felt. And not just that it haunted me. But also, this idea of those people being at peace.

Once I was able to get that out, the kind of work that I did change. I started to think about my artistic purpose differently. I started making work that kind of addressed issues of social justice, race. I mean, it could no longer be for me, it needed to be of service to the community. And that that`s what I want it to do. And that was a direct result, I think of what happened on 9/11, which was a kind of eye opener about how I wanted to live. And I think now I live in a space that`s not about despair. It`s about hope.

JOANNE CAPESTRO: There are moments when I cannot believe I`m alive. I touch my skin, just to feel my blood flow. I don`t think that, you know, sometimes I just don`t think that I made it.

After the 9/11 attacks and I went home everything really settled in, I was in shock. I mean, the first two years were really rough for me. I just suffered survivor`s guilt. At the beginning really, really, really bad. I saw a lot of people die and I saw a lot of people jump and I saw a lot.

For a long time, I struggled with my purpose. I mean, I was mentally messed up in the head. Why did God beat me?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A few weeks ago, some New Yorkers put together a photography exhibit. They asked people to send in a picture they had taken on September 11.

CAPESTRO: There was -- this art gallery called Harris, New York democracy of photographs. I remember standing outside the art gallery with my friend, Amonee (ph), my coworker. And started to snow out, we were drinking hot chocolate. And we`re looking at the TV screen, showing the photos that were inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every wall of the store, even the ceilings are lined with pictures, hundreds and hundreds of pictures. Many of them are too powerful to explain, even for the people who were there.

CAPESTRO: And I said, Oh my god, Amonee, that`s us. When, I found that picture it actually changed my life. It just gave me a lot of closure. That`s the word I`m looking for, gave me a lot of closure. And it was able to move on with my life because it just made me feel better.

There are (inaudible), it`s part of my history. He caught me at the worst moment of my life, the worst moment of my life brought me to the best moments of my life.

DON MARSHALL: Losing a spouse was a horrible place to be. I mean, I open that booth door, it was almost literally looking out into darkness and wondering what was coming next. I didn`t know, I didn`t know how things were going to shake out.

We moved to Shepherdstown, West Virginia, I wanted to get the kids out of D.C. because I was afraid that there could be another attack. I lived in pretty constant fear of that. So, we`ve been there about a month, and I was trying to be a full-time dad. I thought the kids needed that. But obviously, it was not always easy. Then one day, I was cleaning out the family car, apparently didn`t do that very often. Because I found a little notepad under one of the seats. And it was Shelley`s notepad and had a bunch of, you know, grocery lists, things like that. But it also had some words that she wrote down. And they were, "We have only a finite number of days on this earth, make them extraordinary, and fill them with passion." I have sort of taken that as my guidance from her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long does it take to pick ball (ph).

MARSHALL: So, approach life with purpose and make a positive difference.


MARSHALL: I remember the school in Shepherdstown. I had this excellent kindergarten teacher. But it just so happened. Her name was Mrs. Ahmed (ph). She was a Muslim woman. There were two kindergarten teachers and there was nothing wrong with the other one. But I told the principal I said, you know I would really like the kids to go through Ms. Ahmed`s class. Because all their life they`re going to hear that Muslims killed their mother. And that`s just not true. You know, there were this inhuman scum killed their mother. They hijacked the religion to do it. So, the principal agreed and the kids both went through Ms. Ahmed`s kindergarten.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I have the class like this.

MARSHALL: And now we`ve got, you know, one graduating from Harvard, we`ve got another one going to law school. So, Bravo, Ms. Ahmed. And Bravo, Shelly. I mean, she`s a remarkable woman and everything that`s happened since 9/11 has worn her touch one way or another.

AJ DEVINE, AIRLINE PILOT, NAVY RESERVES: My name is AJ Devine, and I`m in the Navy Reserves. So now the issue is, am I going to be called up to fight or not?

You know, the question from my wife is, what do you mean, you have to go to Afghanistan for a year. That doesn`t make any sense, you`re 43 years old. It was in early 2012 when I finally shipped out, I absolutely went in with the preconceived notion that I was going to be hated, I was going to be maybe under a great deal of danger all the time, because they don`t like Americans, and they don`t like Christians.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: U.S. Afghan relations are at a low point in an already difficult relationship, one that relies on cooperation in this incident.

DEVINE: And so, my whole philosophy was OK, I`m just going to do the absolute minimum, keep myself out of harm`s way, and just work. But, you know, that meant having to travel outside of the base outside of protection on our own just with our weapons, and reflect jackets, and our helmet and our, you know, gear, and travel two miles through Kabul city streets, to get to the Ministry of Defense, where the Afghan Air Force were based.

So, I come into the morning with extraordinary anxiety. All right, let`s get to work. Let`s start working on. These numbers and maintenance numbers. And how are we going to get these aircraft up and flying? And they would be like, slow down, slow down, take it easy. Take it easy. How`s your family doing? How`s your family doing? How`s your kids? Are they healthy? You know? I`m like, Yeah, yeah, they`re healthy, they`re healthy. But let`s get to work. Slow down, slow down. And they -- and we would not get any work done until we have talked about each other`s families. And I started learning that, that that was cool. That`s not something that we, I mean, we all have our families, but they make it a certain emphasis on it.

Regardless of whether we should have been in Afghanistan, when we shouldn`t have been in Afghanistan, we had a personal connection with each other. And I started realizing our common humaneness that, hey, we`re not so different from each other.

I mean, I became so immersed in it that I changed my complete perspective. I was like, I am not leaving here without having done something positive, something good. And because I felt like I`m working for my brothers. And I could tell they felt the same way about me.

SHEILA MOODY: When I sit back and reflect on the reality that 20 years ago, someone actually tried to murder me. I could be very bitter about that. I have burrows to my face, second degree burns to my face, I had a second and third degree burns to my hands, and to the backs of my arms. But just as Christ forgave me, I also have to forgive the people who carried out the act.

I have granddaughters and I had to make sure that I didn`t let that bitter root grow in me. I don`t want them growing up with prejudice and bitterness and hatred. You know, I don`t want them saying oh well, this group of people tried to kill my grandmother, so I don`t like them. That is not showing unconditional love.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. OK, so do you want to just point to it?

MOODY: I don`t know, this will be this -- if you use this or not. But God has an awesome sense of humor. Because our oldest son`s wife is from Egypt. And she was raised Muslim. So, it`s like, how would it be, you know, how would I be if held that in my heart, and here my son brings home this woman who he says he loves, and he wants to marry? And I`m like, well, no, can`t marry her. She`s one of them. Well, no, of course, I`m going to hug her and love her and embrace her. And now they`re about to give us our first grandson. It`s awesome.

DAISY KHAN: Always -- we`re recording, right? All we can do now is try to - - try to correct the wrong thinking of people, so that future things like this do not happen. Because of 9/11 American public was so concerned and fearful about Islam and Muslims and al Qaeda. And, you know, the enemy from within that I, as an architectural designer, had to step up.

I wanted to be part of the renewal of healing America, healing my faith. And so about 10 years ago, we proposed a community center, it was called the Islamic Community Cultural Center, in lower Manhattan, a beautiful place that will be for all. But then, people began to attack us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it`s just a spit in our face. I think that laughing at us.

KHAN: And it really hurt me when they said, not you, not now, and not here. I started receiving hate letters after hate letters. But I also started receiving love letters. And these letters, always remind me to this day, that there indeed are two Americas.

I`m feeling sad about America right now. I`m feeling sad because this was a nation that was a beacon of hope for many people. And over the years, post 9/11, we`ve come apart.

RIK PARKER, FORMER EMT VOLUNTEER: Let`s talk about a tale of two cities in America. September 12, 2001, and America whatever day it is 2021. President rescuer or survivor and I`m proud of it. Everybody was together, right? Coeds, college kids bringing us peanut butter and jelly and wax paper on the site. Like I mean, America was probably as unified as it could ever be.

DR. ROBERT LAHITA: There was no bipartisan divide. He just said I`m an American. I have to do this. Everybody was one.

ELIZABETH REGENSBURGER: The people that were down there and that I shared this with, we still keep in touch.


I met people down there that I will be friends with for the rest of my life. Diane and Kim and Sal (ph), like these people they have a part of me now.

LAHITA: Kind of summed it up even after 20 years. It as an emotional part to it.

REGENSBURGER: Here we are 20 years later, yeah.

REAGAN: 20 years later.

REGENSBURGER: Wow. You were very happy baby like so happy. You smiled all the time. And we felt so fortunate that we had you because we were able to just focus on you. And even though there was so much death around us at that time, you just brought so much hope to everybody. But then my dad, your grandfather was quickly diagnosed with cancers relating to 9/11. toxins.


REGENSBURGER: So, you were dealing with that throughout your life.

REAGAN: I think people underestimate, you know, the power buying tragedy. I mean, it`s something that is a constant reminder that life is really, really beautiful and special thing. And family is so, so important.

REGENSBURGER: It`s everything here. Here?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible). Daddy, this is (inaudible) to you.

MARSHALL: Good boy. I remember, I took Chandler when she was about four, I took her to the dress shop in town. And the kids really loved the owner of the dress shop Ms. Heather. So, the next day when I picked the kids up from school, they asked if they could go see Ms. Heather again. And I said sure because Ms. Heather was very pretty. And I didn`t mind. So, I but it took about six months before I got the nerve to ask her out on a date. And I see the rest is history.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Daddy, look what I what got.

MARSHALL: I remarried in 2007. It wasn`t easy to move on like that. But it taught me a lesson that the heart can expand. And love is a precious thing, we shouldn`t ignore it.

CAPESTRO: Being a 9/11 survivor it`s something that you never forget. You have to be able to persevere. And I try my best every single day to overcome my fears. I try every single day. I think I do OK. There are days that I think too much and that there`s days that OK, I`m good. Let`s do this.

Is there somebody going to see me?



CAPESTRO: How are you doing, Buddy?


TISCHLER: I guess the struggle, want to be crazy about it, the struggle to survive is like a really powerful part of being a human being. We have this incredible resiliency. We can survive all kinds of things. Wars and famines and all kinds of hardships that human beings go through.

BYRD: It doesn`t matter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you just find a spot there, right.

TISCHLER: And then once we`re surviving, you know, the struggle to like, you know, be happy. That`s something else. It`s just learning to be OK with not OK. Learning to kind of embrace that discomfort and being open being OK with discomfort until it passes.

DEVINE: I think that`s about it.

KHAN: Thank you.

PARKER: I think that`s good.

LAHITA: Can I just exit.

MARSHALL: I will do it.



JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to Memory Box: The Conversation. I`m Jonathan Capehart. You just saw the TV debut of Memory Box: Echoes of 9/11 which revisits eyewitness accounts of the September 11 attacks recorded as part of an artist project. For the next half hour, we`ll continue the powerful and important conversations, this documentary tackles. And we`ll start those conversations right now with the filmmakers behind Memory Box, David Belton and Bjorn Johnson. Bjorn, what drew you to these stories?

BJORN JOHNSON, FILMMAKER, " MEMORY BOX: ECHOES OF 9/11": And thank you, Jonathan. I guess the question that first drew me to the stories was, is there a way of telling the story of 9/11 differently, is there a way of coming at it from a different angle. And I`ve always been fascinated or intrigued by this idea of life changing in an instant. And undeniably, that`s what happened on the day of 9/11. People`s life, the world was up ended. So that always stuck with me and as a filmmaker I told, is there a way I can kind of capture that?

So, I searched, and I searched and after many years of looking, I found this extraordinary project voices of 9/11 by the artist Ruth Sergel and, you know, it`s just immediately drawn in. There was this whole spectrum of human emotion on display, there was fear, there was lost, there was anger, there was despair. And it was the immersive quality of the voices, the safe space that Ruth heard had created for them that sort of drew me to the project. And, you know, as a filmmaker, I thought we can do something with this and David`s a longtime collaborator and friend. So, I took it to him, and we began to develop the idea together and that`s how it all began.

CAPEHART: So then, David, what did you hope to bring to life by sharing these stories with a larger audience?

DAVID BELTON, FILMMAKER, " MEMORY BOX: ECHOES OF 9/11": The stories was so authentic, these people were walking into this booth entirely of their own volition. They were doing it no one was telling them to do it. No one has asked them to sit down. And once they close the door, they then had total control over whether they were recorded or not. They could switch the camera on, they could switch the camera off. So as a filmmaker, you`re immediately losing some control. We`re used to sitting people down and interviewing them, just like you and I are doing it now.


But this was just unmediated testimony that we as filmmakers had no control over. And I was a mint immediately drawn to the idea that you were hearing from people in a much more authentic and directed, honest and painfully honest way, often about their experiences. You listen to these voices, and they tell you stories. But they also tell you what they were telling you -- they would tell you how they felt. And they were telling you how they felt without being asked how they felt. They just were telling it, absolutely from their heart. And so, it came across as hugely authentic. And it also was an extraordinary group of people. They weren`t first necessarily first responders. They weren`t necessarily all survivors. They were often just ordinary people who were on the sidewalks that day.

So, there were a mixture of people, survivors, rescuers, and also just witnesses. So, they felt like us, they felt like normal people. And in a strange way, I think that normal person had been rather clips from the stories that have been told about 9/11. And this is a chance to redress that balance.

CAPEHART: You know, that is a great point, normal people. And what was so powerful about the film was seeing these normal people in the days after 9/11. But what then made the film even more powerful, was seeing them 20 years later. So, Bjorn, what was the process like to bring these people back 20 years later to tell their stories again. What did you expect?

JOHNSON: We lived with these stories and with these people in development, and then in the early stages of the edit for well over a year. And we always knew, you know, roof, the artists have given us this credible time capsule, we captured a moment in history. And we got to hear how people felt in that moment. But, you know, what was missing was the contemporary angle. So how are we going to tell that story? And as filmmakers, we wrestled with that for a while. But I think the most genuine thing was let the space they entered, the safe space they entered to 20 years ago, it just felt appropriate and genuine and right for the film that we recreate the space. And, you know, it`s a bit daunting as directors, you know, letting bringing these people back in and putting them in the box and what are they going to say, but I think the contributors in our film are extraordinary, you know, they entered into the essence 20 years ago, and they did exactly the same thing earlier this year, and it was emotionally honest and open and raw. And I think the process began and ended with us just not as filmmakers is, as human beings wanting to know how the Donn Marshall`s and the Joanne Capestro`s and Sheila Moody`s, we wanted to know how they were, so the process began with just reaching out to them and having a pre-conversation with them across zoom, and then inviting them back to the box.

BELTON: It felt very important to ask that, that we did adhere really closely to the same approach that Ruth had done 20 years ago. So, we weren`t asking them questions in the booth. They came in with whatever they wanted to say, which is kind of risky when you`re trying to make a film, you`ve no idea what people will say. But it was as though they had had the clock round back 20 years. They kind of got it. As soon as they sat down in that booth, the door close. They switched on. And suddenly they went, yeah, I know, I`ve been here before and I kind of know what I want to say. And so, they again spoke from their heart.

CAPEHART: David Belton, Bjorn Johnson, thank you for your powerful and beautiful film and thank you for being here.

Coming up, our panel discusses the political, military and societal fallout from 9/11 as we thought unfold in Memory Box. And later an important conversation about mental health and how we heal in the wake of tragedy.



CAPEHART: Welcome back. To state the obvious, September 11 changed everything. It changed how we viewed politics and politicians. It was the catalyst for a 20-year war in Afghanistan. And it changed how we viewed ourselves and each other as Americans.

Memory Box: Echoes of 9/11 explores those changes in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and their evolution 20 years later.

Joining us now to discuss those changes are Claire McCaskill, former Democratic Senator from Missouri. She is an MSNBC Political Analyst, Paul Rieckhoff, a 9/11 first responder, Iraq War Veteran and the Founder of Iraq and Afghanistan, Veterans of America and Zainab Salbi, the Founder of Women for Women International. Thank you all for being here.

Claire, this is a big picture question. What did you feel watching Memory Box and what have you been reflecting on as we near the 20-year mark since 9/11?

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D) MISSOURI FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I think I felt vulnerability, emotional vulnerability. And I think that was an overriding sense in this country in the days after the attack. I think it was shocking to most Americans, that someone would have that kind of hatred and go to those extremes.


And I look at the aftermath of 9/11. And what happened politically in this country. And it makes me very sad because we came to accept things like religious profiling, which is a very un-American thing. But that`s something that this country was willing to embrace, because of the fear and vulnerability they felt as a result of those attacks.

CAPEHART: And Paul, you volunteered for the invasion of Iraq after September 11, so seeing in Memory Box, the story of those who signed up to serve after 9/11, what comes to mind for you?

PAUL RIECKHOFF, FOUNDER, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA: Well, I think the whole thing, Jonathan, left me with sadness, and weight, but also an understanding that I`m not the only one carrying that weight. So, there`s a sense of community. And I think there`s a need for all of us that experienced it directly to try to share our stories, and to keep the flame and to educate a new generation of Americans who weren`t even alive. It`s coming full circle for me 20 years after 9/11. I`m teaching a class on 9/11 at Amherst College, and most of the students in my class weren`t even born. And I`m actually assigning this film to them. So, they can understand the humanity of that day, understand the personal stories, and understand the realness of that day.

So, I think it`s really coming full circle for a lot of us. But the thing that I always remember is never forget. And I hope people never forget those stories, but also never forget the lessons learned 20 years later, we`re leaving Afghanistan. And it seems we forgot that sense of unity, we forgot that sense of cohesion, we forgot that there`s a need for accountability, on our wars and on our government and in our entire country. So, I`m always struck by the unity that I saw that day on the ground on the pilot 9/11. And it`s something I`ve never seen since. So, I hope this anniversary in this film can remind people that that`s possible. And we need it now maybe even more than we needed it on 9/11.

CAPEHART: Yeah, I hear you on that, Paul.

And Zainab, anti-Muslim sentiment grew after 9/11, something we saw touched on in Memory Box. What was your advocacy work like then? And how has it changed in more recent years?

ZAINAB SALBI, FOUNDER, WOMEN FOR WOMEN INTERNATIONAL: You know, I have to say before anything, how heartbroken I am not only as watching the documentary, but I am originally from Iraq. And I have worked in Afghanistan for more than a decade and worked in Iraq, as well as a humanitarian. And as I reflect on the consequences of it, I have to remind everyone that that also that day, lead to, according to Brown University, and this is the underestimate about 800,000 people killed from Iraq and Afghanistan, 335,000 civilians are of them that killed. This is beside the US soldiers, women and men of a U.S. servicemen and women, 335 million people became refugees around the world. My own family, my own family, are all refugees from all over the world.

So it was, you know, it makes me sad, that the reflection is not only of that day is how America handled that day, and how we, in my opinion, loss, something so fundamentally beautiful about America, which is his values. And 20 years later, I reflect on that. I think America loss, it said moral grounds in the world of how it`s handled that it`s not that it wasn`t horrible day, it led to many other horrible days and many more lives killed. And we need to reflect on how, do we handle crisis in a way that leads to more peace than more wars, and leads to grounding our moral grounds rather than losing our values. And I think we have lost, at the end of the day, we have lost.

CAPEHART: You know, Claire when I end this conversation with you and going back to the powerful statement that Zainab just said about America lost not only its values, but moral ground in this 20-year span, your reflection on that?

MCCASKILL: Well, I don`t think there`s any question that the fear and the desire to show dominance played into policy decisions that were made in the years, weeks, months following 9/11 there`s no question that there was an abiding sense that we -- there was vengeance we had to get, that there were, we had to retaliate against those who had attacked us. All of that is human nature and perfectly understandable. But so many decisions were made that were not thoughtful. I mean, the domestic surveillance that the FBI began, the religious profiling that became commonplace at our airports.


I`ll never forget one of my doctors in St. Louis, telling me his personal story, that when he came back from visiting family in Pakistan, the way he had been treated at the airport, and it was heartbreaking. I mean, this is a wonderful, loyal American. And it became OK for us to profile based on what religion and how people looked and where they came from in the world. And that obviously, is a very dark mark against the American values that most of us, I think, would like to think that we still hold on to in this country.

CAPEHART: I hope 20 years from now we can talk more about the unity that is in this country, but it`s going to take a lot of work to get there. Claire McCaskill, Paul Rieckhoff, Zainab Salbi, thank you very much for your time.

For our final discussion tonight, we wanted to look at the mental health impact of 9/11 as we see in Memory Box, tragedies be at 9/11 or the coronavirus pandemic, shape us, long after the immediate impact has passed.

To talk with us about resiliency in the face of tragedy, we`re joined now by Dr. Jeffrey Gardere, a Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Dr. Gardere, thank you very much for being here. In Memory Box, there`s a real catharsis at the end to see the resiliency of these victims 20 years later, how can we all embrace and live that resiliency?

DR. JEFF GARDERE, BOARD CERTIFIED CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, I think in watching Memory Box, people will see that in the face of tragedy, before we can even respond while there is still that trauma, that we are all linked together in our response. And that response is coming together in being able to help and support one another. And we know that we have many traumatic events, Jonathan going on now, the pandemic, the rise of racism and white supremacy, the assault on democracy, global warming. So, by learning those lessons, knowing that if we come together as a unified force, that there isn`t anything that we can`t overcome. And that`s where we need to be right now.

And so, Memory Box is a lesson for all of us. And as you correctly stated, it`s a catharsis. But even more than that, it`s a blueprint as to how people can come together and how beautiful that can be. And it was for some time, until we saw some of the other things that started happening afterwards with regard to Muslim Americans and how they were treated, and so on.

CAPEHART: You know, Paul Rieckhoff, just mentioned a moment ago, he`s now teaching 9/11, to students who weren`t even born then. And so, we are coming up on the 20th anniversary since the September 11 attacks, how can we communicate the importance of that tragic day to a generation who can`t remember it or wasn`t even born yet?

GARDERE: Yeah, I think Paul is doing the right thing by showing them what this 9/11 was about. Because we have so many young people who really don`t know they read about it, that they don`t really feel the impact. And the lesson I think they can learn in watching this is that when there is this sort of trauma, what we haven`t seen, since the pandemic, is the lesson that people can come together, we find that hard to fathom in this divided country of ours in a world that is upside down, knowing that it can be done is perhaps the biggest lesson that they can learn. And the beauty of people being together no matter what the race is, it`s not a political response that we need. It`s an American response. And that`s what happened in 9/11. And that`s what we need right now.

CAPEHART: An American response, what a great way to end this conversation. Dr. Jeffrey Gardere, thank you for joining us tonight. As the legacy of 9/11 transitions from living memory into U.S. history, the stories of the survivors, those who were inspired to serve, and those who were impacted by the attacks must be told. Over the last two hours, we hope that by telling some of these stories, you`ve been moved, educated, and maybe even had your perspective changed a bit. Thank you for watching Memory Box: Echoes of 9/11 and The Conversation. I`m Jonathan Capehart. Have a good night.