If you were watching Fox & Friends on Monday morning, your week likely jolted to a start when one of the hosts, Brian Kilmeade, compared 9/11 memorials to Confederate monuments. In an itnerview, Kilmeade was talking to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke about the Flight 93 National Monument and asked, "Do you worry 100 years from now someone's going to work to take that memorial down like they're trying to remake our memorials today?" Zinke's answer is almost as shocking as the question itself.
The interview first started with Zinke speaking about his department's response to Hurricane Irma, which is still devastating the state of Florida. Not long into the interview, though, Zinke and the Fox & Friends hosts changed their focus to the 16th anniversary of 9/11.
Zinke began to focus on the Flight 93 National Monument, which is located near where a plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. When Kilmeade asked his question comparing 9/11 memorials to confederate monuments, Zinke said:
I'm one that believes that we should learn from history, and I think our monuments are part of our country’s history. We can learn from history. Since we don’t put up statues of Jesus, everyone is going to fall morally short. I think reflecting on our history, both good and bad, is a powerful statement and part of our DNA.
The memorial came up because Zinke is in Shanksville with Vice President Mike Pence this morning to commemorate the anniversary. Zinke is a big fan of the site.
This monument — if you have not seen it, drive out and take a look at it. It's magnificently designed, magnificently done, and it's an example of how public-private partnerships, community, national park system, all working together to commemorate, I would think, American heroes.
The site has a wall of names of those who died on the flight, and you can walk down to the crash site. Zinke also spoke about the crew and passengers, the "American heroes" who are commemorated at the site.
I can tell you they're heroes. This is an example of America sticking together, you know, and likely the actions of the passengers and crew of Flight 93 probably prevented a strike on the capital.
That didn't keep Kilmeade from making the comparison, and it also didn't keep Zinke from defending Confederate monuments — although he never mentioned them by name. He's just a fan of both good and bad American history.
“I’m an advocate of, again, learning from our monuments, understanding the period they were made, but also we live in a great country. Monuments are not Republican or Democrat or independent. The monuments are a tribute to all of us," Zinke went on to say, though it's not clear whether he was explicitly talking about Confederate monuments as something that is a "tribute to all of us."
A ceremony in Pennsylvania on Monday will pay tribute to the downed flight crew and passengers on the flight. The observance ceremony is held every year, and the monument is closed to the public throughout the morning. Pence will give the keynote address and then join a wreath-laying ceremony.
Meanwhile, President Trump and the first lady made plans to observe a moment of silence Monday morning at the White House at the time that the first plane hit the Twin Towers 16 years ago. The two will also attend a ceremony at the Pentagon that will be led by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.