60 Million Watch America: A Tribute to Heroes

ByABC News

September 23, 2001 -- (ABCNEWS.com) — Dozens of America's biggest stars came together Friday night from undisclosed locations in New York, Los Angeles, and London to put on a show and raise money for the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox collaborated on the commercial-free, two-hour broadcast of America: A Tribute to Heroes, which was shown on more than 30 networks and seen in an estimated 210 countries. Nearly 60 million people tuned into the special — approximately 9 million more than watched the finale of the first Survivor in the summer of 2000.

"This is a moment to pause and reflect, to heal and to re-dedicate ourselves to the American spirit of one nation indivisible," said actor Tom Hanks, following a performance by Bruce Springsteen, who sang "My City in Ruins.""Those of us here tonight are not heroes," Hanks added. "We are not healers nor protectors of this great nation. We are merely artists, entertainers, here to raise spirits and we hope a great deal of money."

Celebrity Phone Bank

Celebrities including Meg Ryan, Jack Nicholson, Sally Field, Adam Sandler, Whoopi Goldberg, and Reba McEntire were seen manning banks of phones as stars such as Chris Rock told stories of heroism after the terrorist attacks and appealed for donations between musical performances.

"Now is the time for all of us to take action and do our part," Rock said. "Please call. The lines are open."

Musical acts as varied as Eddie Vedder, Stevie Wonder, U2, Neil Young, Limp Bizkit, Sheryl Crow, and Tom Petty all performed. Billy Joel sang "New York State of Mind" with the hat of a fallen firefighter on top of his piano. Paul Simon performed "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and Mariah Carey — in her first performance since her breakdown — sang "Hero."

Movie stars Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, and Jim Carrey tugged at the nation's heart strings.Eastwood: "We Will Not Yield"Actor Clint Eastwood made some final remarks before Willie Nelson's rendition of "America, the Beautiful.""Oh, they left us wounded, but renewed in strength, and we'll stand and we will not yield," Eastwood said. "The terrorists, who wanted 300 million victims, instead are going to get 300 million heroes, 300 million Americans with broken hearts — unbreakable hopes for our country and our future."

Muhammad Ali: "Islam is Peace"Even boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who rarely speaks in public because of his battle with Parkinson's disease, urged Americans against acts of discrimination against Muslims.

"I've been a Muslim for 20 years, and I'm against killing, violence — and all Muslims are against it," Ali said. "Islam is peace, against killing, murder, and the terrorist. The people that do it in the name of Islam are wrong. And if I had a chance, I'd do something about it."

Organizers said Saturday they won't know until at least Monday how much money was raised to help the World Trade Center and Pentagon attack victims. The telethon logged 300,000 calls in the first 15 minutes of the live telecast, according to Reuters.ABCNEWS's Michael S. James and Buck Wolf and ABCNEWS Radio contributed to this report.

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