CBSN

Obama, others recall 9/11

Sept. 11 changed all of us, including our national leaders who were either in charge on that day, or are responsible for our safety today. "The Early Show" spoke to a number of them, to find out where they were during the terrorist attacks ten years ago.

"I was driving down Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. I was a state senator at the time as well as teaching law and practicing law. I was going to a senate hearing," President Barack Obama remembered.

"9/11 '01 was primary day in NYC. I had voted and then I walked to my campaign headquarters, sat down, coffee, reading the newspaper somebody said, "Oh a small plane had just hit one of the twin towers," New York's current Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

"Well I was about six miles away at the Peninsula Hotel having breakfast and I was not informed about how bad it was. I was told a twin engine plane hit the North Tower and there was a terrible fire," then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani remembered.

Arizona Sen. John McCain experienced the events of Sept. 11 in Washington, D.C. "I was in my Capitol office and happened to see it on television and we evacuated the Russell Senate Office Building and I, like all Americans who were first shocked and surprised and then, very angry."

"We actually evacuated the Thompson Center, the state building in the middle of Chicago's Loop and we were all outside and a lot of people were looking up at the Sears Tower thinking it might be coming down," President Obama remembered.

Michael Grimm, now a Republican congressman representing Staten Island and a part of Brooklyn, N.Y., remembers, "When the second plane hit, this feeling...almost like my heart had sunk into my stomach. We're being attacked."

"And then they said there's a plane on its way to Washington. You know, what's the magnitude of this. And all I kept thinking was, I have to get home. I have to get to NY," he added.

Giuliani said, "Half my mind was pointed to 'How do we save the people at the World Trade Center? How do we deal with the fire? How do we deal with getting the people out? The other half had to be with the police department how do we make sure there are no further bombings. I called the White House."

"I went to my law office to get together with my fellow attorneys. We watched that horrific scene of the buildings coming down," Obama remembered.

Bloomberg knew people who perished in the twin towers. "I knew I had three people in the building and no idea where in the building they were. In the end they had never got out."

"I got there, probably around 4:30 p.m. in the afternoon. And I thought it was a movie set. I would see fireman walking to catch their breath and to pour some water, the look in their eyes....is just unbearable," Rep. Grimm remembered.

Giuliani expected there was worse to come. "I expected further bombings in the city, maybe by plane, maybe suicide bombings, so there was so much to think about that you had to put your emotions under control and say I'm going to think about that later."

"I'll always remember the smoke billowing out of the Pentagon, the fact that military jets were scrambled and flying over D.C.," Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, who took office in 2009, remembered. "I think there was astonishment. There was anger at who would ever do this. There was a sense of our lives were forever changed."

"I remember going home and Sasha and just been born. And I usually had night duty so Michelle could get some sleep. And I remember staying up late into the middle of the night burping my child and changing her diapers and wondering, 'What kind of world is she going to be inheriting?'" Obama added.