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Opinion | 19 years later, America faces a different, homegrown crisis on 9/11
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Opinion | 19 years later, America faces a different, homegrown crisis on 9/11

9/11 anniversary amid COVID-19 highlights Trump's failures as America faces a new crisis. The contrast with Bush and Biden couldn't be more clear.

Politics

On Sept. 11, 2001, I was a junior communications aide in George W. Bush's White House. It was my first full-time job; I was barely old enough to buy a beer.

That morning, with America under attack, my colleagues and I were evacuated from the White House. We ran through Lafayette Square, across Pennsylvania Avenue. In the afternoon, after rallying in a makeshift office downtown, my roommate and I were sent walking through the empty streets of downtown Washington to FBI headquarters to assist with a media briefing. We rode with our boss back to an eerily quiet White House and worked with a news crew to set up the Oval Office for the president's address to the nation.

I sat behind the president's Resolute Desk as his stand-in and read through his remarks, imagining the momentous decisions he would have to make in that chair in the coming weeks.

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We were in the Oval Office when the president walked in from Marine One on the South Lawn. As he rehearsed his speech, I was struck by his resolve and focus, the intensity in his eyes. The nation needed to see strength but also needed reassurance that we would be OK, that we would make it through the crisis and build back better.

In the coming days, Bush would bring the nation together in prayer at the National Cathedral and visit a mosque in solidarity with Muslim Americans. Believing a second-wave attack on the White House to be imminent, the Secret Service would take the president down to the White House "bunker" multiple times.