As a result of the tragedies of September 11th, the world will never be the same again. On the twentieth anniversary of this tragic incident, we’ve compiled a collection of television specials and documentaries to commemorate this very special day to all of us. Tune in starting today to view the 9/11 commemoration special.
9/11: The Legacy (7 p.m., HISTORY) —The HISTORY® Channel will air three documentary specials on the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks: Rise and Fall: The World Trade Center on Friday, September 10 at 8/7c; 9/11: Four Flights on Saturday, September 11 at 8/7c; and 9/11: I Was There on Saturday, September 11 at 10/9c. Now you may watch a preview of all three specials.
Race Against Time: The CIA and 9/11 (8 p.m., CBS/Paramount+) – A two-hour documentary featuring top officials and elite operatives inside the CIA bringing dramatic, exclusive, and haunting first-person accounts of their efforts to warn the United States about the potential of a cataclysmic attack orchestrated by Osama Bin Laden. September 11, 2001, marked the greatest failure in the history of the nation’s premier spy agency but also sparked what became its greatest success, helping find Bin Laden. For the spies inside the CIA, it was a race against time to get Bin Laden, and that race began long before 9/11 and ended long after. Emerging from the top-secret corridors of Langley and covert operations in faraway places, they come to tell their story – many for the first time. The documentary features interviews with Leon Panetta, former director of Central Intelligence; John McLaughlin, former CIA acting director; Jose Rodriguez, former deputy director of CIA Operations; and lead intelligence analysts Gina Bennett and Cindy Storer.
Rise and Fall: The World Trade Center (8 p.m., HISTORY) — Through a unique architectural and engineering lens, this two-hour documentary takes a chronological look at the conception, construction, and destruction of the World Trade Center towers. It recounts the inspiring, true story behind the individuals who dreamed, planned, and built a symbol of American strength and ambition. Step by step, viewers will witness the execution of this innovative and one-of-a-kind sky-high complex from early designs to overcoming technical challenges to its heart-wrenching collapse. The documentary covers the first terrorist attack on the WTC during the 1993 bombing and unpacks, in vivid detail, a timeline of how and why the building fell after terrorists flew commercial airliners into them on Sept. 11. With the use of historical elements and graphics, expert interviews, and courageous first-hand testimonies of the two attacks, the documentary reveals the wonders and vulnerabilities of these unforgettable buildings.
20/20: Special Edition (9 p.m., ABC) – Two decades after 9/11, ABC World News Tonight anchor David Muir reports on how the day’s tragic events forever changed the world. Muir interviews survivors and family members who lost loved ones in the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and United Flight 93 in Shanksville. The survivors share their harrowing personal stories of rescue and escape, including Florence Jones, who Muir has followed for years. Muir also spends time with families who lost loved ones, including the family of Flight 93 passenger Tom Burnett who, along with other passengers, helped stop an additional attack on our nation’s capital. The special will also revisit Joseph Pfeifer, the New York City Fire Department chief, who Muir has profiled, who led the command post at the north tower following the initial attack – and firefighters who survived the north tower collapse. Muir’s interviews include personal and moving messages to the American people from survivors and relatives of some of the victims on what they’re hoping Americans will do to honor those who were lost — 20 years later.
The Hunt for Bin Laden (9 p.m., Smithsonian Channel) – Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was assassinated by American special forces in 2011, bringing an end to the country’s longest and most expensive manhunt in history. Witness the 20-year search for the world’s most wanted man through the eyes of counter-terrorism experts from the White House, the CIA, and the FBI. This insider account details the presidential disappointments missed opportunities, and vicious turf wars that dogged the operation until the night Navy SEALs brought an end to Bin Laden’s reign of terror. Click the image below to watch the video.
20/20: Special Edition with Diane Sawyer (10 p.m., ABC) – Twenty years ago, ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer sat down with young women holding their infants — who were pregnant when their husbands died in the attacks. The mothers she met were fresh in grief, holding new babies who often looked like their dads. Over the years, Sawyer and her team followed these families as they look at the world through their unique lens, with their children’s lives in part shaped before they were even born. Now, as those children approach their 20th birthdays, a special edition of “20/20” brings nearly 40 families together again. Has grief given them a new purpose? Are some following in their fathers’ footsteps? A master class in resilience and hope comes from a group forever bonded by a national tragedy. With lessons to teach us after a year of national trauma, they hand us a blueprint for survival.
Dateline: NBC (10 p.m., NBC) – Lester Holt anchors this special “Dateline,” featuring interviews with the family members of Flight 93’s passengers and crew members. For the first time, some of the children come together as they honor the lives of their parents and the courage that inspired the world.
Come From Away (Apple TV+) — “Come From Away” chronicles the plight of 7,000 individuals stranded in the little town of Gander, Newfoundland following the cancellation of all US planes on September 11, 2001. While the people of Newfoundland generously welcome the “come from aways” into their town in the aftermath, passengers and locals alike digest what has occurred while discovering love, humor, and new hope in the unlikely and lasting ties they form.
Good Morning America: Special Edition / 9/11 Twenty Years Later: America Remembers (7 a.m., ABC) – This special edition of “Good Morning America Saturday” leads into the “9/11 Twenty Years Later” special at 8. David Muir will lead special live coverage alongside Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer and a number of ABC News correspondents. The special coverage will reflect on all that happened since that tragic morning and feature the live ceremony taking place in lower Manhattan, including the reading of the names by family members of those killed, as well as the six pauses for moments of silence commemorating the four attacks and collapse of the two towers, and the ceremonies at the Pentagon, Shanksville and elsewhere.
Today (7 a.m., NBC) – Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb anchor a special edition of “Today” from Ground Zero. Lester Holt joins at 8:30 for a special report alongside Guthrie and Kotb, as the nation pauses for moments of silence to commemorate the victims and families of 9/11. The special coverage will also stream on NBC News NOW. Holt will also anchor NBC Nightly News from Ground Zero. (Note: MSNBC’s coverage will start at 5 a.m.)
9/11 (8 p.m., CNN) – Another airing of the updated version of the film shot by the Naudet brothers, who were following New York City’s Duane Street Fire House for a “typical” day that became much more than that. This film is why there is footage from inside of the Twin Towers as firefighters raced to evacuate the buildings.
9/11: Four Flights (8 p.m., HISTORY) — This two-hour documentary uses powerful and personal narratives to tell the stories of the four flights — American 11, United 175, American 77, and United 93 — that took off the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, unaware of the life-changing events to follow and fate that would forever intertwine them. The documentary contains riveting and emotional human stories of those aboard each doomed jetliner. Looking at all four flights for the first time in one program, the special unveils a saga of surprising connections, strange coincidences, and detrimental decisions. From one flight tracking another as it veered off course, barreling toward Manhattan, to the final heart-wrenching phone calls to some incredibly harrowing yet heroic moments, viewers will hear about the bravery of passengers, crew, air traffic controllers, and more who tried in vain to intercept the airliners.
Surviving 9/11 (8 p.m., Discovery) – A deeply personal film that moves between accounts of the two-hour period when terrorists attacked the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and Flight 93 and the story of the 20 years since.
Verdi’s Requiem: The Met Remembers 9/11 (8 p.m., PBS NC) – This unique performance, hosted by Misty Copeland and led by Met Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, will commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. It will feature soloists Ailyn Pérez, Michelle DeYoung, Matthew Polenzani, and Eric Owens.
9/11: We Remember (9 p.m., PBS NC) – A look back at the events of September 11, 2001, in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.
The 9/11 Classroom: Front Row to History (10 p.m., CNN) – Victor Blackwell documents the dramatic events of 9/11 through the eyes of the second-grade students, their teacher, and the former White House aides who were in the classroom with President George W. Bush when he got word about the terrorist attack.
9/11: I Was There (10 p.m., HISTORY) — Another two-hour documentary, this one using rare footage and audio to unveil an intimate portrayal of the events of Sept. 11 captured by ordinary people who chose to pick up their video cameras that day. Told at the moment without interview, commentary, or narration, this riveting documentary weaves together the personal video diaries of a dozen people whose emotions are remarkable documentation of that dark day. The documentary puts viewers in the shoes of New Yorkers and visitors alike to unfold the tragedy, the fear of what was next, and the horrific aftermath to follow resulting in a raw and unfiltered telling of 9/11 from confusion to comprehension, terror, and relief.
9/11/01: The First Night (Midnight, MSNBC) – MSNBC will re-air select NBC News coverage as it aired the night of Sept. 11, 2001, from midnight to 5 a.m. ET.