Television Documentaries Explore 9/11’s 20th Anniversary

By Troy Rosasco

Twenty years have passed since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and once again, as the anniversary approaches, America remembers.

With the 20th anniversary here, Thirteen seeks to acknowledge the devastating attacks and the losses faced by the American population with a message of hope and healing. It seeks to remember the heroes who lost their lives in the attack and honor the Americans who suffered serious injuries, severe diagnoses, and immense limitations as a result of their involvement at the scene of the attacks, either in the immediate aftermath or in the months that followed.

When it comes to 9/11, everyone has a story. People across the country remember the moment they heard the news: their location, who surrounded them, and what happened afterward.

For those who volunteered at the scene of the attacks, those stories grow even more potent. Cleanup efforts continued for months as people continued to help clear away the debris, and the dust cloud that hovered throughout Lower Manhattan led to severe diagnoses for many of the people who lived and worked there.

Thirteen aims to honor those sacrifices. It began airing on August 10 and will continue to air a commemorative broadcast highlighted by a special live broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera House. This special concert will offer the first performance held in the Metropolitan Opera House since March 2020.

The Programming

Take a look at some of these fascinating programs that take a deeper look into the lives of those affected by 9/11, including many who will face permanent changes and impacts. (If any of them already aired before you read this, look for reruns or check the PBS video website and the PBS Passport streaming service to watch them on demand.)

  • Frontline: In the Shadow of 9/11 offers a look at a “searing tale of injustice” that looks at the seven young black men accused of aiding Al Qaeda. It aired on August 10.
  • Generation 9/11, which aired on August 31, presents a look at the children born after their fathers died in the 9/11 attacks, including the children of first responders. The program follows major milestones and how the children learned of their parent’s death as they grew up.
  • Frontline: America After 9/11 follows the way America changed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Not only did 9/11 have a profound impact on the way Americans think about freedom, it shaped the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, covert operations, and domestic surveillance in a way that changed the nation forever. This program will air on September 7 at 9 p.m.
  • NYC DDC 9/11 follows the journey undertaken by the New York Department of Design and Construction, which cleared 1.8 million tons of debris from Ground Zero. Its employees faced immense challenges throughout that process, including sights and sounds that remain with them to this day. Nevertheless, their contribution to the cleanup efforts helped permanently shape New York City. This program airs on September 10 at 9 p.m.
  • Chief: The Heroic Story of Bill Feehan follows the story of FDNY Fire Chief Bill Feehan, who died on 9/11 while operating at his command center when the south tower collapsed. His story remains a compelling tale that speaks to Americans of all ages, particularly as they learn of his ongoing heroism and commitment to the New York Fire Department and the people he sought to rescue. His story will air on September 10 at 9:30 p.m.
  • 9/11’s Unsettled Dust documents the environmental disaster that followed the 9/11 attacks, as the dust cloud impacted all of Lower Manhattan and led to immense challenges. Many people are familiar with the challenges caused by the dust cloud, including the enhanced cancer risk for anyone who lived or worked in Lower Manhattan in the aftermath of the attacks, but many people do not recognize the immense environmental challenge that came along with the cleanup. This program, which airs on September 10 at 10 p.m., aims to help unlock some of those threats and provide more information to viewers who want a better understanding of how the 9/11 attacks have impacted the natural world around them.
  • PBS NewsHour Special 9/11 Program features coverage of the day’s ceremonies as well as the stories of first responders who survived the attacks, but who may have narrowly missed death as they hurried to help the victims of those attacks. It will also include a look at the Arab American community in Michigan and the discrimination many of them faced in the aftermath of the attacks. The special airs on September 11 at 6 p.m.
  • Great Performances—Verdi’s Requiem: The Met Remembers 9/11, which airs on September 11 from 8 p.m. to 9:35 p.m., will offer a special performance to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the attacks. The production, hosted by American Ballet Theater principal dancer Misty Copeland, music director Yannick Nezet-Seguin, and a variety of soloists, will offer the first major production at the Met since the pandemic began.
  • 9/11 Documentaries will air on All the Arts, including Rescue, Recover, & Healing on September 10 at 8 p.m., America in healing at the Riverdale Church on September 10 at 8:30 p.m., Snohetta at Ground Zero on September 10 at 10 p.m., and In Our City: New Yorkers Remember September 11th on September 10 at 11 p.m.

Supporting the Victims of the 9/11 Attacks

As you watch the programs commemorating 9/11 and consider how it continues to affect the nation, you may feel more compelled than ever to support the victims of the attacks and their families.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, many of the victims have sought compensation through the Victim Compensation Fund or assistance with their medical needs through the WTC Health Program, which provides free medical care for the victims of the 9/11 attacks as they manage related conditions. Let your representatives know that you support continued funding for these programs, which can help provide much-needed aid to those families.

9/11 benefits attorneys help victims of the 9/11 attacks seek the compensation they deserve through the VCF.

Contact a 9/11 benefits attorney today to learn more about the services we offer or to receive assistance with your 9/11-related claim.

Troy Rosasco
Attorney, Troy Rosasco
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