The Associated Press
NEW YORK –
From an urban memorial to a remote field to the heart of the nation’s military might, U.S. President Joe Biden paid tribute in three sacred places of mourning and remembrance on Saturday to honor the lives lost in the terrorist attacks of two decades ago 11.
The solemn Memorial Day reminded Americans time and again of a time when they united in the face of an unimaginable tragedy. This waning spirit of September 11th was most invoked at the time of the attacks by the President, George W. Bush, who said, “This is the America I know,” in stark contrast to the bitterly divided nation that Biden now leads .
Biden left the speech to others and paid his respects at the three locations in New York, Pennsylvania and outside Washington, where on September 11, 2001 four hijacked planes crashed and killed nearly 3,000 people, rocking the nation’s sense of security and taking off the country in two Decades of war.
Biden wiped a tear from himself as he stood silently at the point where the World Trade Center towers collapsed, looking up at the haunting sound of a jet plane under a clear blue sky, reminding of that fateful day.
In a grassy field in Pennsylvania, Biden comforted family members who had gathered around a boulder near Shanksville that marked where passengers crashed a hijacked plane that had flown into the country’s capital. At the Pentagon, Biden and his wife Jill took a moment of silence before a wreath adorned with white, purple and red flowers was displayed in front of the memorial pews marking the victims of the attack on the military headquarters.
Delivering Bud Light and appreciation to the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department responding to the United Flight 93 crash, Biden praised Bush’s comments in his only public remarks of the day, saying the Republican “gave a really good speech today – really” . and wondered aloud what those who died that day would think of today’s grudge.
Pointing to a cross-shaped steel memorial from the twin towers next to the fire station, Biden thought, “I think what, what would the people who died, what would they think. Would you think this makes sense? us doing something like that where you drive down the street and someone puts up a sign that says ‘f-so-and-so?’ has.
It was a reference to an explicit sign that attacked Biden in New Jersey last week while viewing storm damage displayed by supporters of former President Donald Trump. Biden expressed disbelief over recent remarks by Trump, who he accused of abandoning the ideals of the nation during his tenure.
“Everyone is saying, ‘Biden, why are you still insisting on bringing the country together?” The president told reporters. “That’s the thing that will affect our well-being more than anything.”
In a repeated refrain from his presidential warning of the rise of autocracies, he added: “In the next four, five, six, ten years will we show that democracies can or cannot work?”
At Ground Zero in New York City, Biden stood side by side with former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton at the National September 11 Memorial as the names of the dead were read by loved ones. Each man wore a blue ribbon and held his hand over his heart as a procession of a flag marched through the memorial in front of hundreds of people, some with photos of loved ones lost in the attacks.
Bush, who gave the keynote address in Shanksville, lamented that “so much of our politics has become a bare appeal to anger, fear and resentment”.
“On America’s Trial and Mourning Day, I saw millions of people instinctively reaching for a neighbor’s hand and standing up for the other’s cause,” Bush said. “This is the America I know.”
Alluding to civil unrest, including the January 6 uprising in the Capitol, Bush said that “the dangers to our country can arise not only across borders, but also from the violence there.” He added that while they bear little cultural resemblance to the 9/11 attackers, “they are children of the same evil spirit and it is our ongoing duty to face them”.
Vice President Kamala Harris also spoke at the Flight 93 National Memorial, praising the theme of unity as she praised the courage of these passengers and the resilience of the Americans who had come together in the days after the attacks.
“We turned to each other at a time of real terror,” said Harris. “If we as Americans do the hard work of working together, if we stay united in the goal, we will be prepared for whatever comes next.”
Biden was a US Senator when hijackers confiscated four planes and carried out the attacks. He was Obama’s Vice President in 2011 when the country celebrated the 10th anniversary of the strikes. The commemoration on Saturday was his first as Commander in Chief.
It is now Biden who bears the responsibility of his predecessors to prevent another strike. He must do so against fears of a surge in terrorism following the US precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan, where those who planned the 9/11 attacks found shelter.
In remarks to the fire department, Biden defended the retreat, which culminated in a massive airlift to evacuate more than 110,000 Americans and allies – but nonetheless resulted in many being left in an uncertain future under the rule of the Taliban.
“Could al-Qaeda come back? Yes. But guess what, it’s back in other places, ”said Biden. “What is the strategy? Wherever al-Qaeda is, will we march in and hold troops?
Rather than making formal remarks, Biden released a tape-recorded address on the anniversary late Friday in which he spoke about the “true sense of national unity” that emerged after the attacks and in “heroism everywhere – in expected and unexpected places “Was seen.
“For me, this is the central lesson of 9/11,” he said. “Unity is our greatest strength.”
Biden became the fourth president to comfort the nation on the anniversary of that dark day that shaped many of the most momentous domestic and foreign policy decisions made by bosses in the past two decades.
Trump skipped the official 9/11 memorial ceremonies and instead went to a fire station and police station in New York, where he tracked down Biden about his withdrawal from Afghanistan and repeated lies about the 2020 election while paying tribute to New York’s first responders.
Bush was reading a book to schoolchildren in Florida when the planes hit the World Trade Center. He spent that day being kept out of Washington for security reasons – a decision made at the time, Sen. Biden has written to reconsider, the current president wrote – and then gave a short, hesitant speech that night the White House in front of a frightened nation.
The terrorist attack would determine the Bush presidency. The following year, he chose Ellis Island as the location to deliver his first anniversary speech, with the Statue of Liberty slung over his shoulder, as he promised, “What our enemies started, we will finish.”
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were still deadly when Obama visited the Pentagon in 2009 to celebrate his first 9/11 in office.
As Obama spoke on the 10th anniversary, the attack mastermind Osama bin Laden was dead in a Navy SEAL attack in May 2011. Although the nation remained entangled overseas and vigilant of threats, the anniversary was more about healing / p>
Trump promised to get the US out of Afghanistan, but his words during his first September 11, 2017 celebrations were a strong warning to terrorists, telling “these savage killers that there is no dark corner out of our reach, no sanctuary out of our reach” . , and nowhere on this very large earth can one hide. “
Jaffe reported from Washington. Associate Press Secretary Jill Colvin in New York and Aamer Madhani in Wilmington, Delaware contributed to this report.
US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden attend a wreath ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks at the Pentagon in Washington, Saturday, September 11, 2021, partake in the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Site taking to the lives of the Pentagon and aboard American Airlines Flight 77. (AP Photo / Alex Brandon) US President Joe Biden Attend ceremonies to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks on Saturday, September 11, 2021 at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York. (AP Photo / John Minchillo)
From left: Former President Bill Clinton, Former First Lady Hillary Clinton, Former President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, United States President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg’s partner Diana Taylor, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., And Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, DN.Y. stand for the national anthem during the annual 9/11 memorial service at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum on Saturday, September 11, 2021 in New York. (Chip Somodevilla / Pool photo via AP) Former US President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama arrive to attend a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (AP photo / Evan Vucci)
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