Scholastic Kids Press Corps
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Remembering 9/11/01

Former President Bill Clinton addresses concerns of September 11 families

By Danielle Azzolina and Dante A. Ciampaglia | September 11 , 2008
The World Trade Center site is shown Thursday, September 11, 2008 at dawn in New York on the seventh anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
The World Trade Center site is shown Thursday, September 11, 2008 at dawn in New York on the seventh anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Note: Commemorative ceremonies will be held at all three sites of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks today. Kid Report Madison Hartke-Weber will report on the unveiling of the Pentagon memorial near Washington, D.C., while Emma Huibregtse will report from a forum with both presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama in New York City. Kid Reporter Danielle Azzolina covered a special presentation in New York on Wedensday evening by former President Bill Clinton, reported here.

Just blocks away from Ground Zero, former President Bill Clinton spoke to a gathering of survivors and family members of victims of September 11 at the Voices of September 11th Day of Remembrance in New York City on Wednesday.

"People will be reading about this 50 years from now, 100 years from now," Clinton said of [the events of] September 11, 2001. "You want them to know how we came together. You want them to know for a brief moment the whole world seemed to be on our side and against the madness of thinking our differences are more important than our common humanity."

Clinton was there to listen to the families of the victims, hear their stories and to find out how they are doing. He heard about the loss of medical benefits for survivors, and anxieties that there still might be remains of victims in a landfill known as Fresh Kills.

He was also confronted about the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund. It was established after September 11 to help cover education costs for kids who lost parents in the attacks.

So far, the fund has raised $128 million. Clinton helped raise a lot of that amount.

But many family members are concerned that not enough money is being given out. Others have said that there is too much red tape involved in getting the scholarships and that the amount of the scholarships change year to year.

Clinton said he felt a sense of duty to do all that he could to make sure the money for children of September 11 victims actually gets to them.

"I feel a special responsibility to fix some of your concerns with this scholarship fund because I worked so hard to raise money for it," Clinton said. "And there isn't a single complaint that's been made to me that is in anyway consistent with what I thought I was doing when I raised the money."

Stopping Terrorism For Good

In addition to addressing the concerns of survivors and family members, Clinton also spoke about a long-term goal: ridding the world of terrorism.

Former President Bill Clinton with Kid Reporter Danielle Azzolina
Former President Bill Clinton speaks with Kid Reporter Danielle Azzolina at the Voices of September 11th Day of Remembrance in New York City on Wednesday, September 10, 2008. (Photo: Dante A. Ciampaglia)

"We must do everything we can to not allow that to happen again," Clinton said of the attacks on the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and United Flight 93 that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on that clear day in September, 2001. "We ought to be about the business of making a world with more partners and fewer terrorists."

An important part of that world is international cooperation because terrorism is a global problem.

There are literally thousands of people, Americans and others, who work on this and they all work together and share information all around the world," Clinton told Scholastic News. "That's the model of what we're going to have to do more of. And by the way, even when I was President that was the most important thing we did to prevent terrorist attacks."

But governments can't be the only ones working to make the world a safer place. Normal people have to pitch in, too. Clinton praised the work Sept. 11 family members have done to rid the world of terrorism by making sure September 11, its victims, and its lessons are never forgotten.

He pledged support for Voices of September 11th, an organization dedicated to creating a living memorial to the victims of the terrorist attacks. Clinton applauded the group—and all the survivors and family members—for working to help make the world a better place.

"You never get over something like this. You just have to try to get through it," Clinton said. "The best way to remember them is to create a world where that will never happen to anybody else. I think you've done a lot to reach that, and I am personally very grateful."

Read Danielle's personal thoughts about attending the Voices of September 11th Day of Reverence on the Scholastic News Blog.

Special Report: Kids Observe 9/11

See how young people like you have responded to the anniversaries of the attacks.


Read today’s story and answer the following question.

blog it

Today is the 7th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01. It is a day of remembrance and commemoration. What is your school doing today to remember the victims of 9/11?

Tell us on the Scholastic News Online Blog!


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About the Author

Danielle Azzolina is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

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