Jon Stewart's Emotional Monologue Delivered Just Days After 9/11 Remains As Powerful As Ever
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The powerful monologue Jon Stewart gave on The Daily Show in the days following 9/11 has been widely shared on social media this week as the 20 year anniversary of the World Trade Centre attacks arrived today. Watch the full clip below.
Jon Stewart returned to TV just nine days after the 9/11 attacks, and like many comedians at that moment, he pulled no punches in getting real with his audience about the terror and devastation that the world was facing.
Stewart's immediate response to 9/11 was an incredibly moving one and has stood out over time as one of the definitive documents of the era.
Clearly still overwhelmed with emotion, Stewart started the show by simply asking the audience if they were OK.
"They said to get back to work," Stewart quipped. "And there were no jobs for a man in the fetal position, under his desk crying, which I gladly would've taken. So, I came back here instead."
Over the course of the next nine minutes, Stewart fought back tears as he explained why, although he had been grieving, he did not give into despair following the attacks, inspiring viewers with a message of strength, resilience and spirit that still resonates to this day as he compared the aftermath of the attacks to the devastation that America felt following the assasination of Martin Luther King Jr.
"The reason I don't despair is because this attack happened. It's not a dream," he said.
"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 just momentary. And we're judging people by not the colour of their skin but the content of their character."
And you know, all this talk about 'These guys are criminal masterminds. 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 is extraordinary. That's why we've already won. It's light. It's democracy. We've already won. They can't shut that down. They live in chaos, and chaos can't sustain itself. It never could. It's too easy and it's too unsatisfying.
But perhaps the most poignant came close to the end, when Stewart described the change in his apartment's view after the towers came down.
"The view from my apartment was the World Trade Center and now it's gone. They attacked it," he concluded. "This symbol of American ingenuity and strength and labor and imagination and commerce and it is gone.
"But you know what the view is now? The Statue of Liberty. The view from the south of Manhattan is now the Statue of Liberty. You can't beat that."
Even after 20 years, Stewart's monologue remains incredibly raw and powerful and remains essential viewing for anyone wishing to understand the mood of the nation following the devastating events of 9/11.
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