Oprah Talks to Madeleine Albright
Oprah: We've all heard that on September 11 America was forever changed. What does that mean to you?
Madeleine: Americans have always felt pretty invulnerable here at home—until we were violated on our own territory in a way we have never been. In September more Americans died than on any other day in our history—and that has changed the way we look at things. In some ways we need to change. This attack was so awful that if we don't change, the lives lost will be without vindication. I obviously can't identify with what happened to those who lost their lives—but in a way I was in those buildings, you were in those buildings, every American was.
Oprah: That's so true. When we last talked, you said you had seen unimaginable atrocities around the world. Have you ever seen anything like this?
Madeleine: Nobody has ever seen this kind of terrorism. I witnessed similar devastation when I visited our embassies in Nairobi and Tanzania [after the August 1998 bombings]. But there wasn't the same loss of life. Through television we saw this tragedy in real time. While we were watching the first tower burn, all of a sudden the second plane goes through the other side—we're watching it, and then we see the buildings come down. It was a visual horror that is unparalleled.
Oprah: I had to say out loud what I had seen, just so my brain could take it in.
Madeleine: What's weird is that we've all probably seen movies like this and walked away thinking, "This couldn't possibly happen." So we're left trying to get our minds around the fact that it's not a horror show, it's real life. I knew people in those buildings, so I felt a combination of every possible horrible feeling.
Oprah: How can we process the fear, the anxiety, the uncertainty of not knowing what's next?
Madeleine: I'm not sure—I'm still processing the magnitude of what happened myself. But we have to be determined that we won't let this stop us. The balance I have struggled with is between having a normal day and knowing that there are people wandering the streets of New York holding photographs and signs that read HAVE YOU SEEN MY HUSBAND?
Oprah: Yes. With every show I taped right after the tragedy, I thought, "How can I do this while they're still rescuing people?"
Madeleine: I even feel awful having conversations about other matters. And yet I know that if we don't continue getting back to normal, the terrorists will have won. It's important that we invest in America—literally. The terrorists wanted to destroy our economy, and we can't let our system fall apart. We also have to invest in one another. As I listen to the stories of those grieving, I know we're all grieving with them. We have to go through that entire grief process.