SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Twenty years ago, it seemed like America’s new millennium bubble had burst.
Pierced by planes that crashed into the Twin Towers, a rural Pennsylvania field, and the Pentagon.
A loss of life that has shaken us deep within us and still shakes us every year since. We all remember where we were and what we were doing that day.
East Bay Congresswoman Barbara Lee was in the United States Capitol when the Pentagon was hit nearby.
In an exclusive interview with KRON4, she talks about that day and how she remembers 9/11 and everything that has followed since.
Read our full Q&A below:
How do you feel today, 20 years later?
“Well, today is a very dark day. It’s a day of reflection, and in many ways the country, including myself, we still mourn the lives lost, the trauma, the long-standing health impacts of first responders, our troops, the communities that were affected by these horrific terrorist attacks. And I think today we all have to stop and think and understand that 20 years ago we lost so many lives and this country has been changed forever. I also want to remember today, Wanda Green. Wanda was a flight attendant on Flight 93. She’s the cousin of my former Chief of Staff Sandre Swanson. I was sitting in the capital that morning, and we were told to evacuate right away. We didn’t know what was going on, but I looked behind me as I ran down Pennsylvania Avenue and saw smoke coming from the Pentagon. We later learned that Flight 93, more than likely, was arriving at the Capitol. And so today, I think, especially those heroes of Flight 93 who saved so many lives because they brought down that plane, and it’s a very dark day. My thoughts and prayers are with all those who have lost so many lives and loved ones. “
You tell about that connection you have on a new documentary series on Netflix called Turning point: September 11 and the war on terror. What made you decide to be part of the documentary?
“I was very reluctant at the start. First, the memories and the heartbreak that many of us still feel, recognizing that we have to move on, but it’s still there. I wasn’t sure I should be a part of it, but I’m glad I did. These experiences are a burn in my heart and in my brain. I’m often reluctant to talk about it, but if I can share my feelings, my emotions, my love for people, my concern for keeping our troops out of harm’s way, then I felt like, and my staff told me. encouraged to continue and do that.
Learn that you voted no to the war in Afghanistan. How difficult was it for you to vote away from anyone in the House and Senate. Would you vote this way again?
“I voted no, and today also I am thinking of our troops, of the troops we have lost, of the Afghan people. collateral damage, civilians who were killed, refugees. And I’m like, you know, this is the time when we have to thank our troops and resolve our troops because they’ve been put in danger. They did everything our country asked them to do, and our veterans deserve all of our support. I knew then that by voting against this authorization, it was the right vote. Because that authorization was 60 words long, and it was a blank check. It was too broad and allowed any president to go to war without returning to Congress. And it is our job as members of Congress to represent the people in accordance with our Constitution and to authorize or declare war, but this overbroad authorization only places our responsibilities on the executive. It was just wrong. I believe if anything came before me today, and if he forfeited my constitutional rights, the voice of the people on matters of war and peace, I would certainly vote against it. That’s not to say that I didn’t think we should bring the terrorists to justice and we shouldn’t respond. But three days later, September 14 when we were in mourning, angry… it was not the time to be rational and invent a strategy. Now was not the time to be rational and strategize. It was not the moment. We had to step back, like I said on the ground, take a deep breath, be the thoughtful leaders that we are, make decisions about the appropriate response and assess the consequences of that. “
You said, “September 11 changed our world. Our deepest fears haunt us now. How do you remember September 11 and how do you think we, as the American people, should continue to remember these victims?
“I remember the good people, the heroes, the first responders, the families, the communities. The human of this is what I remember. Turning Point, I think, did a great job highlighting the impact of what happened. This is how I will remember it and never forget it. We have lost people across the country. If you pray, I continue to pray for these families and communities. If you don’t, you have to think it over. I think it’s our job, our duty and our responsibility to remember those people who perished as well as those emergency responders. I listened to some of the speeches this morning, and I think one of the lessons learned, and one that we have to remember, is that we are a caring riding. We take care of each other, we sacrificed a lot for each other. We are putting our lives in danger for each other, and this is something we have to start recognizing again even though we may have our political differences over policies. I am a progressive democrat, but we have differences of opinion. But come on. We must somehow get this country back on track to live up to its creative freedom and justice for all, and so we must remember the human side of this. that happened.
Vice President Harris and former President George W. Bush both spoke of unity here in America. Not only is it essential that America be America, but it is essential for our security as a national security.
Anyone can watch more Congressman Barbara Lee on Netflix in Turning Point: 9/11 and the War on Terror. She can be seen in episodes two and five.