Following the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, as well as Flight 93’s crash, TV host icon Mister Rogers came out of retirement to deliver a powerful message in response to the infamous day in history.
But, according to Biography, in the 2018 documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? the producer of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Margy Whitmer, revealed before doing the promos for his four 9/11 public service announcement clips, Rogers admitted he just didn’t know what good the announcements would actually do. Still, he and the producer decided to continue with the plan to record the announcement.
“No matter what our particular job, especially in our world today, we all are called to be ‘tikkun olam.’ [Which means] repairers of creation.” Mister Rogers stated in one of the post-September 11th videos. He continued by thanking those who bring joy, light, hope, faith, pardon, and love to neighbors and himself.
Mister Rogers explained in another clip that following the attacks, children just need to hear from adults is that they can talk to them about anything. “And that we will do all we can to keep them safe in any scary time.”
One year after the September 11th attacks, Mister Rogers returned to address parents of children struggling to cope with the tragic events. “I would like to tell you what I often told you when you were much younger. I like you just the way you are. I’m so grateful to you for helping the children in your life to know that you’ll do everything you can to keep them safe. And to help them express their feelings in ways that will bring healing in many different neighborhoods.”
Mister Rogers Spoke About the Love That Conquers Hate During 2002 Commencement Speech at Dartmouth College
Less than a year after the September 11th Attacks, Mister Rogers took to the stage of the 2002 graduating ceremony at Dartmouth College to speak about the kind of future he hopes for.
“When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about the part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch,” Mister Rogers stated. He also describes the “deep part” of humans that allows them to stand for those things without which humankind is unable to survive.
“Love that conquers hate. Peace that rises triumphant over war. And justice that proves more powerful than greed,” Mister Rogers goes on to add.
Mister Rogers previously spoke about other well-known moments in U.S. history. This includes both assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the Iran Hostage Crisis, and the 1986 Challenger Shuttle Explosion. He taped his final Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood episode in December 2000, which aired in August 2001. Less than two years after the September 11th attacks, Rogers passed away at 74-years-old from stomach cancer.