The fates had it that the Miss America 2017 Competition fell on a solemn date for most Americans — September 11. In honor of the events that happened on September 11, 2001, Miss America Chairman and CEO Sam Haskell, Miss America 2000 Heather French Henry, and Miss America 2002 Katie Harmon Epner gave a tribute to 9/11 during the Miss America competition on Sunday night to signify the pageant's connection to that day. As Epner and Henry explained, the Miss America Competition was slated to take place just four days after September 11, and no one at the time was really sure what to do about it. Do they cancel the show? Reschedule it? Press on? The group explained how they consulted and “prayed on it,” ultimately opting to go on with the show to represent the fact that Americans couldn’t be browbeaten into being scared.
The 2002 Miss America Competition was the first live show to take place after the attacks, which I had no idea about. To end the tribute, Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell sang a section of Katy Perry’s “Rise,” which was a great song to pay homage to the day and its sanctity in the hearts of many Americans. Later, Miss Maryland Hannah Brewer sang “God Bless America” as her own homage to the troops that fight for our freedom every day.
It’s amazing to me that Miss America 2002 host Tony Danza and all the other women could pull it together to go on with the show. Epner’s crowning, which you can watch above, looks like any other crowning in the history of Miss America. It was important to show the country that we would press on, and that’s what Miss America did — who would have though a pageant would have played such an important part in the history of 9/11?