Today marks the fifteenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and many will spend the mourning and commemorating the victims lost on that tragic day. It’s easy to forget the painful emotions felt in the aftermath of the attacks and how difficult it was for people to get back to work. Below are a series of clips from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “The Late Show with David Letterman,” and “Saturday Night Live” in their first shows back after 9/11, which captures the hosts’ obvious struggle to communicate their sorrow during that time.
In his monologue, Jon Stewart first calls attention to the clichéd nature of “another entertainment show beginning with an overwrought speech of a shaken host, and television is nothing if not redundant,” and then explains why he’s grateful to live in a country that allows for open satire, and why he grieves but doesn’t despair. Repeatedly pausing to choke back tears, Stewart argues that the recovery is a “dream realized” and that it’s extraordinary to watch people rebuild after devastation.
Letterman similarly asked for the audience’s patience for indulging his monologue and then dives into how difficult it is to continue to do a TV show that “makes fun of everything.” He praises Mayor Giuliani, calling him “the personification of courage,” as well as the police officers and the firefighters who responded to the attacks. Letterman then tells a story of Choteau, Montana, a small town of 1,600 people struggling through a drought who rallied together to raise money for New York City, saying, “if that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the spirit of the United States, then I can’t help you.”
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Finally, “Saturday Night Live” opened on a shot of Mayor Giuliani and a dozen members of the New York Fire and Police departments. He praises their heroic actions on that day of tragedy, saying that, “Our hearts are broken, but they are beating, and they are beating stronger than ever.” Singer Paul Simon then performs a mournful, but lively rendition of “The Boxer.” Finally, “SNL” creator Lorne Michael thanks everyone for being there before asking Giuliani, “Can we be funny?” to which he responds, “Why start now?”
Watch the videos below.