Twenty years after the day that changed the trajectory of his time in office, President George W. Bush hosted a screening for a new documentary shining a light on his role in the first 12 hours after the attack.
At the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, the former president spoke to a crowd of about 500, which included first responders who were in New York in the days following the attacks.
"We hope your memories stay sharp because the lessons of 9/11 are as relevant today as they were 20 years ago,” Bush said.
The documentary, available on Apple TV+, is titled "9/11: Inside the President's War Room."
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In it, Bush, along with those who were with him that day, share the inside story of what those in power knew and the immediate steps taken.
Their story is one remembered by a select few, like native Texan and former Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Brian Montgomery.
"Things just completely changed in the blink of an eye,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery was there as the President got the word in front of school children that a second plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. And he was with him in the sky, which was deemed safer than a return to Washington.
"As you know, Air Force one is a 747 but we took off like it was a fighter jet that day,” he said.
Though they had a direct line of communication to those back at the White House, Montgomery said images came in only as the plane crossed over cities where the signal could reach.
He remembered the mood on the plane as one of sadness as they braced for the death toll. But when asked whether there was fear when they realized Air Force one could be a target, Montgomery said they were focused on the work to be done.
Even in those early hours, he said Osama Bin Laden’s name was already on the tip of people’s tongues.
"There are contingency plans for just about everything, well certainly now. But none of them said, attack on World Trade Center, page 6,” Montgomery said.
The initial hours would drag into days, which would drag into years that looked different than any of them had imagined. Along the way, there were lessons learned that those at the tragedy’s epicenter hope time won’t diminish.
"We can never forget what happened that day,” Montgomery said.
Apple TV+ is streaming the documentary free for non-subscribers on Sept. 11.