Speaking on Tuesday night at an event at the National Constitution Center honoring her work in public service, the former secretary of State noted the upcoming 12th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, and described what she saw walking through the rubble as a senator from New York.

"I will always remember walking through lower Manhattan on the day after those attacks as a senator representing the people of that great state. It was like a scene out of Dante's Inferno: The air was acrid, the thick smoke made it hard to breathe or see," she said.

"Occasionally, a firefighter would emerge exhausted and covered in soot, dragging an axe. Some of them had been on duty nonstop since the planes hit the towers. They had all lost friends and comrades. But they carried the undaunted spirit of a wounded nation on their tired shoulders."

The potential presidential hopeful gave a short address that centered around themes of national unity in the face of adversity, but she was careful to couch much of her speech in historical anecdotes, offering little commentary on current events.

She did echo Monday comments she made on the conflict in Syria, asserting again — in almost identical terms to her earlier statement — that the use of chemical weapons by Assad "violates a universal norm at the heart of our global order and it demands a strong response from the international community, led by the United States."