Hillary Clinton said Ground Zero looked like the 'Gates of Hell'

‘I cannot imagine anything that looked more like the Gates of Hell’: Hillary Clinton recalls flying over Ground Zero in a helicopter the day after 9/11

  • Hillary Clinton still has vivid imagery in her head of seeing Ground Zero one day after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks 
  • ‘I cannot imagine anything that looked more like the Gates of Hell,’ she described Friday on CBS Mornings 
  • Clinton was a senator from New York at the time and traveled with now Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to survey the damage on September 12 
  • ‘I thought I’d be prepared because I’d seen it on TV, but the TV screen contained it and circling over it was something that I think about and will never forget’

Hillary Clinton still has vivid imagery in her head of seeing Ground Zero one day after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.  

‘We landed at LaGuardia, we took a helicopter, and we circled over Ground Zero,’ said Clinton, who was a senator representing New York at the time. ‘And I cannot imagine anything that looked more like the Gates of Hell.’

The ex-first lady and future secretary of State recalled Friday to CBS Mornings that she was in Washington, D.C., the day of the attacks. 

Hillary Clinton, who was serving as a U.S. senator from New York at the time, recalled seeing Ground Zero one day after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in a Friday interview 

Clinton wore a dust mask to tour Lower Manhattan on September 12, 2001 one day after the 9/11 terror attacks 

‘I was on my way to the Senate for a hearing about improving education, actually,’ Clinton recalled. ‘Laura Bush was scheduled to testify when the first plane hit.’ 

Bush, then the first lady, was active in literacy campaigns. 

‘And after making sure that my entire staff was safe and that they could relocate out of the Capitol area, so that we could begin working, I was on the phone, endlessly, talking with elected officials in the state, obviously people in Washington and looking at the television like every American was, glued to the scenes of devastation,’ Clinton continued. 

The next day, Clinton traveled alongside now Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer up to New York. 

‘We were the only plane in the sky, other than fighter jets that were keeping the cover over New York and other parts of our country,’ Clinton said. 

Speaking about the hellish scene that played out beneath her, the ex-senator noted, ‘I thought I’d be prepared because I’d seen it on TV, but the TV screen contained it and circling over it was something that I think about and will never forget.’ 

Then Sen. Hillary Clinton (right) accompanies then New York Gov. George Pataki (left) and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on a tour of Ground Zero on September 12, 2001 

Now Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (second from left) can also been seen walking alongside Giuliani, Pataki and Clinton. Clinton said she and Schumer flew up from D.C. that day

Schumer (left), Clinton (center) and Rep. Nita Lowey, a Democrat from New York, huddle together on September 12, 2001 

She said Friday what stands out to her was the ‘overwhelming sense of devastation and tragedy.’ 

Clinton toured Ground Zero alongside then New York Gov. George Pataki and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, among other officials. 

She said after her initial horror, ‘then quickly, we had to support our first responders, other emergency workers who were running toward danger not away from it and we had to support the families whose loved ones were literally lost in a second.’ 

‘We had so much work to do and in a way, it kept me going, in the face of such overwhelming tragedy and of course we were concerned that there might be more attacks elsewhere in our country,’ Clinton said.  

 Clinton said she was still in touch with some people she met during that era – interviewing some for a recent podcast taping. 

‘And as you said, the overwhelming sense of that time was of unity. And it really was an incredible moment of the country in the world coming together,’ she said.   

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