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South Carolina lawmakers reflect on 20th anniversary of 9/11

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 10:51 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - It’s 20 years since the terror attacks on September 11th and members of Congress who were in office on that day are reflecting on this somber milestone.

South Carolina leaders – House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and Senator Lindsey Graham – share their memories and message moving forward.

The morning of September 11th, 2001, Congressman Jim Clyburn was meeting with fellow lawmakers on Capitol Hill. When news spread through the halls of Congress that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center, Clyburn and his colleagues rushed outside, only to encounter another attack close to home.

“All of a sudden we heard this big boom and someone thought it was a bomb,” said Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.).

It was a third plane, striking the Pentagon, just a few miles away. Evacuees then piled into Clyburn’s home nearby, until U.S. Capitol Police transferred them to a hideout for the rest of the day. A fourth plane – heading toward DC – was taken down in a Pennsylvania field by heroes of United Flight 93.

”If that plane had succeeded, there’s no telling what would’ve happened that day. Certainly the conference room that I was in probably would’ve been annihilated,” said Clyburn.

On 9/11, Senator Lindsey Graham also took staffers into his home on Capitol Hill. Once the attacks ceased, he says lawmakers were determined to overpower the evil and horror of that day with a symbol of unity.

“We met on the steps of the Capitol, the House and the Senate, and somebody behind me started singing ‘God Bless America’, and I’ll never forget that as long as I live,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Graham says in the aftermath, he vowed to do everything in his power to prevent another 9/11. He’s since traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan 57 times, as a lawmaker and as a member of the Air Force. The strong national security advocate worries the chaos in Afghanistan makes America – and the world – less safe.

“Let’s say a prayer for all those who died, and all those who have sacrificed for the last 20 years, and let’s educate those who are too young to remember that day about the consequences of America letting her guard down,” said Graham.

Photojournalist/Editor Tyler Smith contributed to this report.

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