Jon Stewart's 9/11 Monologue Seems to Get More Powerful With Each Viewing

Americans everywhere re-evaluated their lives, careers and passions after the devastating events of September 11, 2001. Once the country took a collective moment to mourn and reflect, many Americans were wondering how they could move forward.

Jon Stewart returned to The Daily Show weeks after the 9/11 attacks, and like many comedians in the moment, he made a point of getting real with his audience about the terror and devastation that America was facing.

Instead of opening the talk show with a number of jokes, Stewart delivered an incredibly powerful message that started with an important question to his viewers: "Are you OK?"

But the truly inspiring moment came later in Stewart's eight-minute monologue when he reflected on America's strength and values of community and freedom. He thought back to childhood, and another devastating American moment: the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

9/11
The view of the Manhattan skyline after a terrorist attack which destroyed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. A lone spectator watches the unfolding scene from a safe vantage point. Michel Setboun/Corbis via Getty Images/Getty

Stewart argued that, as a country, America had already won the war on terror. Just days after the horrible attack, he explained why America's strength had never been more prominent, and how community and equality lift us up.

"And the reason I don't despair is because this attack happened. It's not a dream. But the aftermath of it, the recovery is a dream realized. And that is Martin Luther King's dream. Whatever barriers we've put up are gone, even if it's momentary. And we're judging people by not the color of their skin but the content of their character," he said of the attack.

Stewart continued to point to the American heroes who glued the country together in its darkest moments. "And you know, all this talk about 'These guys are criminal masterminds. They've—they've gotten together and their extraordinary guile... and their wit and their skill.' It's a lie. Any fool can blow something up. Any fool can destroy. But to see these guys, these firefighters, these policemen and people from all over the country, literally, with buckets rebuilding. That, that—that is—that's extraordinary. That's why we've already won."

At the end of the emotional dialogue, Stewart noted his apartment's view changed when the twin towers fell. Instead of looking out over the iconic buildings, he now saw the Statue of Liberty, the leading symbol of American freedom.

Listening to Stewart's monologue is powerful regardless of the day or the year, but it feels especially pressing again on September 11, in 2020. As the world feels like it's in an incredibly precarious position, and America's dealing with illness, inequality and general unrest, Stewart's remarks are still a balm.