Must read: Ari Fleischer recounts 9/11 on Twitter
Former Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer used a series of tweets today, the anniversary of 9/11, to recount the events of the day as he experienced them next to the president 19 years ago—a day that still causes nightmares for many Americans.
Fleischer has been synchronizing the tweets to the exact time events unfolded to help recreate that day, helping to remind people what it was really like, as memories begin to fade.
“7:59am September 11, 2001 American Airlines Flight 11 with 92 people on board takes off from Boston to Los Angeles,” Fleischer tweeted at 7:59 am.
“8:46 am United Airlines flight 11 is flown by hijackers into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, killing all on board and many more inside the building,” he added.
“Moments later as the motorcade pulled up to the school, I received a text from Brian Bravo in the WH press office alerting me to the news that an airplane has flowin [sic] into the Twin Towers. (No smart phones then. Just pagers and cell phones.).”
By far, Fleischer’s account is one of the most poignant memorials to 9/11 because it helps recount for people how the horror of the day unfolded for them. The thread also reminds people, at a time when many feel the government is disconnected from them, that those in power experience events in real-time, a lot like the rest of us do.
Fleischer, now 59, was then just a 38-year-old wunderkind Press Secretary serving a president not yet through the first year of his administration.
President Bush was vising a Florida elementary school when he first got word of the attacks, and it was unclear at that time if the first plane flew into one of the towers accidentally or not.
“I got out [of the motorcade] thinking this must’ve been some kind of terrible accident,” said Fleischer in an account of that day in the book The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11, by Garrett M. Graff.
But as the second plane hit the tower, it was made immediately clear that the events of the day were deliberate, even though we didn’t understand them.
“Everything started lighting up,” said Master Sgt. Dana Lark who was detailed to the presidential travel staff and was in Florida with Bush that day. “We saw Andy Card whisper in the president’s ear. We still didn’t know what the hell was going on. We’re just monitoring the Secret Service and staff radio channels. It was chaos. What’s next? All of a sudden, other reports start coming in—explosion at the White House, car bomb at the State Department. We’re under attack.”
Many Americans can sympathize with Lark, as we watched in disbelief the news coverage with a chaos of emotions, and feeling that yes, we were under attack as a nation.
“There were times when the emotion would just well up. Just that sick feeling, that sorrow. It was the overwhelming stress, like when a friend or family member is dying. That’s the closest thing I can explain what it felt like that day,” added Lark.
And Ari Fleischer has captured it perfectly on Twitter today, lest we ever forget.
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