President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden visited all three sites Saturday where terrorists killed Americans on September 11, 2001, marking the 20th anniversary of the attacks.
The Bidens woke up in New York and joined the Clintons and the Obamas at a ceremony at Ground Zero, before traveling to Shanksville, Pennsylvania and then the Pentagon for wreath-laying services.
‘These memorials are really important. But they’re also incredibly difficult for the people affected by them, because it brings back the moment they got the phone call, it brings back the instant they got the news, no matter how years go by,’ Biden told reporters in Pennsylvania.
At the western Pennsylvania site, Vice President Kamala Harris had called for a ‘united America’ Saturday as she joined former President George W. Bush at the 9/11 memorial ceremony in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to mark the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks.
Harris, a Democrat, followed Bush, a Republican, who used his speech to condemn ‘violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home,’ calling them ‘children of the same foul spirit’ – an apparent reference to both the 9/11 hijackers and the January 6 Capitol insurrectionists.
Before leaving Pennsylvania, the Bidens paid a visit to the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department, which responded to the crash on September 11. Dr. Jill Biden was captured passing out Bud Light and IC Light – a local Pittsburgh brew – to the first responders. President Biden took photos with firefighters and their families, including – he told reporters – some boys in Trump hats.
He also had an across-the-aisle compliment for Bush.
‘I thought that President Bush made a really good speech today,’ Biden said. ‘Genuinely good speech, about who we are. The core of who we are is not divided.’
Biden brought up the MAGA hat photos, as he commended Bush’s remarks, and expressed his hope that the United States could be more united. He said it was important to prove to autocrats like Chinese President Jinping Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin that democracies can succeed.
‘Are we going to, in the next four, five, six, ten years, demonstrate that democracies can work, or not?’ he asked. ‘We actually can, in fact, lead by the example of our power again.’
At the final stop, the Bidens, Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff gathered at the Pentagon late Saturday afternoon, for a playing of Taps as they gathered around a wreath, with Dr. Biden squeezing Harris’ hand.
Queen Elizabeth sent a heartfelt message to Biden as the U.S. marked the anniversary of the tragedy.
‘As we mark the 20th anniversary of the terrible attacks on September 11 2001, my thoughts and prayers, and those of my family and the entire nation, remain with the victims, survivors and families affected, as well as the first responders and rescue workers called to duty,’ the Queen said. ‘My visit to the site of the World Trade Center in 2010 is held fast in my memory,’ she added.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden joined Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff at the Pentagon Saturday afternoon for a wreath-laying ceremony. Biden visited Ground Zero and Shanksville earlier Saturday, while Harris spoke at Shanksville
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden (right) hold hands and are followed by Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff (left) to a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon Saturday
The first and second couples held hands and gathered around a wreath outside the Pentagon to mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden lay a wreath at the Wall of Names during a visit to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville
The Bidens walk through the western Pennsylvania where Flight 93 crashed on September 11, 2001
First lady Jill Biden was captured giving firefighters six-packs of Bud Light and IC Light – a local Pittsburgh brew – at the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department after she and President Joe Biden laid a wreath at the Flight 93 memorial
Kamala Harris called for a ‘united America’ Saturday as she joined former President George Bush at the 9/11 memorial ceremony in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to mark the 20th anniversary of America’s darkest day
President George W. Bush used his speech in Shanksville to talk about violent extremism at home
President Joe Biden gazes upward as he attends Saturday’s 9/11 memorial ceremony alongside Dr. Jill Biden, the Clintons, the Obamas and other elected officials
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden depart New York City Saturday en route to Shanksville, Pennsylvania where the president will lay a wreath to mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks
From left: Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Diana Taylor, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer place their hands on their hearts at the beginning of the 9/11 ceremony
The One World Trade Center is seen during the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks in New York
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arrive at the National September 11 Memorial in New York on Saturday
President Joe Biden is captured pulling down his mask to greet someone at Saturday’s 9/11 memorial ceremony in New York
Former President George W. Bush (right) and former First Lady Laura Bush attended the memorial service Saturday in Shanksville, Pennsylvania
Vice President Kamala Harris (left) arrives at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania with her husband Doug Emhoff (center left) and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (center right)
Biden didn’t speak at the ceremony in New York – as he chose to release a video Friday sharing his reflections instead.
Members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, also attended the New York memorial service.
Former President Donald Trump, a native New Yorker, said on Fox News on Friday that he will travel to Ground Zero to mark the attacks’ 20th anniversary, but didn’t specify timing.
He didn’t run into Biden on Saturday.
Trump’s ex-attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani – who was mayor during the attacks – attended the Ground Zero ceremony.
Giuliani was among the high-profile Trump allies who pushed the so-called ‘big lie’ – that Biden wasn’t the legitimate winner of the 2020 election.
Trump sent out a statement complimenting Giuliani Saturday morning.
‘Congratulations to Rudy Giuliani (for the 20th time!), the greatest Mayor in the history of New York City, for having shown such leadership and doing such an incredible job during and after the attack on our Nation!’ the ex-president said.
Trump sent out additional statements critical of Biden’s Afghanistan pull-out throughout the somber day.
Biden defended the withdrawal and brushed off criticism when speaking to the press in Pennsylvania.
‘It’s hard to explain to anybody, how else could you get out?’ Biden said. ‘For example, if we were in Tajikistan and pulled up a C-130 and said we’re going to let, you know, anybody who was involved with being sympathetic to us to get on the plane, you’d have people hanging in the wheel well. C’mon.’
When asked about his sinking poll numbers he responded, ‘I’m a big boy, I’ve been doing this a long time.’
He also knocked Trump for recent comments the Republican made about Richmond’s decision to remove a large Robert E. Lee statue. Trump had suggested the confederate general was so great he would have won the war in Afghanistan.
More generally, Biden expressed disgust with the coarseness of political rhetoric.
‘They think this makes sense for us to be in this kind of thing where you ride down the street and someone has a sign saying “F so and so?”‘ he asked.
Biden avoided some additional awkwardness at Saturday’s ceremonies by signing an executive order that ordered a review of the classified documents related to the attack – something 9/11 families, first responders and survivors have demanded.
Former President Barack Obama gives a salute as he enters Saturday’s 9/11 ceremony in New York alongside former First Lady Michelle Obama
Bruce Springsteen played ‘I’ll See You In My Dreams,’ after a bell chimed at 9:03 a.m., marking when Flight 175 hit the second World Trade Center tower
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg arrives for ceremonies Saturday marking the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York arrives Saturday at the ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is captured arriving Saturday at Ground Zero
New York police and firefighters hold a US flag as a band plays the National Anthem at the National 9/11 Memorial during a ceremony commemorating the 20th anniversary
An American flag is unfurled at the Pentagon in Washington Saturday to mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks
Two bells were rung after each of the names of the victims of the Flight 93 were read aloud during Saturday’s 9/11 ceremony in Shanksville, Pennsylvania
READ PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH’S SPEECH IN SHANKSVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA ON THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11
Laura and I are honored to be with you. Madam Vice President, Vice President Cheney. Governor Wolf, Secretary Haaland, and distinguished guests.
Twenty years ago, we all found in different ways in different places, but all at the same moment that our lives would be changed forever.
The world was loud with carnage and sirens. And then quiet with missing voices that would never be heard again.
These lives remain precious to our country and infinitely precious to many of you.
Today we remember your loss. We share your sorrow, and we honor the men and women that you have loved for so long and so well.
For those too young to recall that clear September day, it is hard to describe the mix of feelings we experienced. There was horror at the scale of destruction and awe at the bravery and kindness that rose to meet it.
There was shock at the audacity of evil and gratitude for the heroism and decency that opposed it. In the sacrifice of the first responders, in the mutual aid of strangers, in the solidarity of grief and grace, the actions of an enemy revealed the spirit of a people.
And we were proud of our wounded nation.
And these memories of passengers and crew of Flight 93 must always have an honored place.
Here the intended targets, became the instruments of rescue. And many who are now alive owe a vast unconscious debt to the defiance displayed in the skies above this field.
It would be a mistake to idealize the experience of those terrible events.
All that many people could initially see was the brute randomness of death. All that many could feel was unearned suffering. All that many could hear was God’s terrible silence.
There are many who still struggle with a lonely pain that cuts deep within. In those fateful hours we learned other lessons as well. We saw that Americans were vulnerable, but not fragile, that they possess a core of strength that survives the worst that life can bring.
We learned that bravery is more common than we imagined.
Merging with sudden splendor in the face of death.
We vividly felt how every hour with our loved ones was a temporary and holy gift.
And we found that even the longest days end.
Many of us who’ve tried to make spiritual sense of these events.
There is no simple explanation for the mix of providence and human will that sets the direction of our lives.
But comfort can come from a different sort of knowledge. After wandering long and lost in the dark many had found they were actually walking step by step toward grace.
As a nation or adjustments had been profound many Americans struggled to understand why an enemy would hate us with such zeal. The security measures incorporated into our lives are both sources of comfort and reminders of our vulnerability. And we have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within.
There’s little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home, but then there’s disdainful pluralism in their disregard for human life.
In their determination to defile national symbols they are children of the same foul spirit and it is our continuing duty to confront them.
After 911, millions of brave Americans stepped forward and volunteered to serve in the armed forces. The military measures taken over the last 20 years to pursue dangers at their source, have led to debate. But one thing is certain. We owe an assurance who all who have fought our nation’s most recent battles.
Let me speak directly to veterans and people in uniform.
The cause you pursued and the call of duty is the noblest America has to offer.
You have shielded your fellow citizens from danger. You have defended the beliefs of your country and advanced the rights of the downtrodden. You have been the face of hope and mercy in dark places. You have been a force of good in the world.
Nothing that has followed, nothing, can tarnish your honor or diminish your accomplishments. To you and to the honor of dead, our country is forever grateful.
In the weeks and months following the 9/11 attacks, I was proud to lead an amazing, resilient, united people. When it comes to the unity of America, those days seem distant from our own.
Malign force seems at work in our common life, that turns every disagreement into an argument. And every argument into a clash of cultures.
So much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear and resentment.
That leaves us worried about our nation and our future together.
I come without explanations or solutions.
I can only tell you what I’ve seen on America’s day of trial and grief, I saw millions of people instinctively grabbed before a neighbor’s hand and rally to the cause of one another. That is the America I know.
At a time when religious bigotry might have flowed freely, I saw Americans reject prejudice and embrace people of Muslim faith. That is the nation I know.
At a time when nativism could have stirred hatred and violence against people perceived as outsiders, I saw America’s reaffirm their welcome to immigrants and refugees. That is the nation. I know.
At a time when some viewed the rising generation as individualistic and decadent, I saw young people embrace an ethic of service, and rise to selfless action. That is a nation I know.
This is not mere nostalgia, it is the truest version of ourselves. It is what we have been and what we can be again.
Twenty years ago terrorists chose a random group of Americans on a routine flight to be collateral damage in a spectacular act of terror.
The 33 passengers and seven crew of Flight 93 could have been any group of citizens, selected by fate.
In a sense, they stood in for us all.
The terrorists soon discovered that a random group of Americans is an exceptional group of people.
Facing an impossible circumstance, they comforted their loved ones by phone, braced each other for action and defeated the designs of evil.
These Americans were brave, strong and united in ways that shocked the terrorists, which should not surprise any of us.
This is the nation we know.
And whenever we need hope and inspiration, we look to the skies, and remember.
The president had been told by nearly 1,800 Americans impacted by the terror attacks last month not to come to any of the 20th anniversary events unless he declassified documents that potentially show Saudi government links to the September 11, 2001 hijackers.
Biden’s order makes no mention of Saudi Arabia.
Bush, who rarely makes public appearances, used his speech to address domestic terrorism. He also told veterans and servicemembers that their sacrifices in the War on Teror weren’t for nothing. And the former leader pushed the nation to display the same sort of unity that was present in the days following the September 11, 2001 attacks.
‘Many Americans struggled to understand why an enemy would hate us with such zeal,’ Bush said. ‘The security measure incorporated into our lives are both sources of comfort and reminders of our vulnerability. And we have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within.’
The former Republican president noted that there is ‘little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home’ except for their ‘disregard of human life.’
‘In their determination to defile national symbols they are children of the same foul spirit and it is our continuing duty to confront them,’ Bush said – an apparent refrence to both the 9/11 hijackers and the January 6 Capitol insurrectionists.
Queen Elizabeth sends ‘thoughts and prayers’ to victims of ‘terrible’ 9/11 attacks on 20th anniversary as US delegates hold a minute’s silence at Windsor Castle
In her heartfelt message to President Joe Biden, Queen Elizabeth reflected on her visit to Ground Zero back in 2010.
As we mark the 20th anniversary of the terrible attacks on September 11 2001, my thoughts and prayers, and those of my family and the entire nation, remain with the victims, survivors and families affected, as well as the first responders and rescue workers called to duty.
‘My visit to the site of the World Trade Center in 2010 is held fast in my memory.
‘It reminds me that as we honour those from many nations, faiths and backgrounds who lost their lives, we also pay tribute to the resilience and determination of the communities who joined together to rebuild.’
In a defiant message played at a memorial event at the Olympic Park in east London, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the threat of terrorism remained but people refused to live their lives in ‘permanent fear’.
‘The fact that we are coming together today – in sorrow but also in faith and resolve – demonstrates the failure of terrorism and the strength of the bonds between us,’ Johnson said.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex changed the website of their Archewell Foundation to show rows of victims’ names.
Bush also aimed to assuage concerns voiced by veterans and servicemembers that their time in Afghanistan was all for naught – with the Taliban quickly taking over the country ahead of President Joe Biden’s August 31 messy pull-out.
‘One thing is certain, we owe an assurance to all who have fought our nation’s most recent battles,’ Bush said. ‘Let me speak directly to veterans and people in uniform.’
‘You have shielded your fellow citizens from danger. You have defended the beliefs of your country and advanced the rights of the downtrodden. You have been the face of hope and mercy in dark places. You have been a force of good in the world,’ said the former commander-in-chief.
Nothing that has followed, nothing, can tarnish your honor or diminish your accomplishments,’ Bush stated. ‘To you and to the honor of dead, our country is forever grateful.’
Bush recalled that in the weeks following the attacks, ‘I was proud to lead an amazing, resilient, united people.’
‘When it comes to the unity of America, those days seem distant from our own,’ he said. ‘Malign force seems at work in our common life. That turns every disagreement into an argument and every argument into a clash of cultures.’
‘So much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear and resentment,’ he continued. ‘That leaves us worried about our nation and our future together.’
Bush said that he had come to Pennsylvania ‘without explanations or solutions.’
‘I can only tell you what I’ve seen – on America’s day of trial and grief I saw millions of people instinctively grab for a neighbor’s hand and rally to the cause of one another. That is the America I know,’ Bush said to applause.
‘At a time when religious bigotry might have flowed freely, I saw Americans reject prejudice and embrace people of Muslim faith. That is the nation I know,’ he said.
‘At a time when nativism could have stirred hatred and violence against people perceived as outsiders, I saw Americans reaffirm their welcome to immigrants and refugees. That is the nation I know,’ Bush continued.
Bush also defended millennials, who he said were described as ‘individualistic and decadent,’ saying they embraced an ‘ethic of service’ and ‘selfless action.’
‘This is not mere nostalgia – it is the truest version of ourselves,’ he said. ‘It is what we have been. And what we can be again.’
The Twin Towers are seen on fire minutes after commercial airplanes were crashed into them by Al Qaeda hijackers on September 11, 2001
Saturday’s ceremony in New York included a playing of the National Anthem and bells chiming for when each of the four planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and finally a field in Somerset, County, Pennsylvania – sparing either the White House or the U.S. Capitol.
Family members read the names of the deceased, giving tributes to husbands, wives, uncles, sisters, brothers and children who were among the 2,977 killed.
Bruce Springsteen played ‘I’ll See You In My Dreams,’ after a bell chimed at 9:03 a.m., marking when Flight 175 hit the second World Trade Center tower.
General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke at the Pentagon.
‘Oh my God, oh my God’: How Jill Biden screamed down the phone to Joe when the second plane hit the Twin Towers on 9/11 as he was commuting to the Capitol on Amtrak
On the morning of September 11, 2001, now President Joe Biden was riding his beloved Amtrak from Wilmington to Washington and talking on the phone to his wife.
‘Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God,’ Dr. Jill Biden yelled into the phone.
One commercial airplane had already slammed into the North Tower at the World Trade Center in New York City. She exclaimed when a second followed.
‘Jill, what is it?’ Biden, then a U.S. senator from Delaware, asked his wife.
‘Another plane … the other tower,’ she responded.
Biden is set to mark the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks with visits to Ground Zero, Shanksville, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon on Saturday.
Then Sen. Joe Biden appeared on ABC News after the Pentagon was attacked in Washington and argued that Congress should get back in session and President George W. Bush should return to the White House
Dr. Jill Biden was on the phone with now President Joe Biden when Flight 174 crashed into the South Tower on 9/11. ‘Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God,’ she exclaimed
He recounted what he experienced on 9/11 in his 2007 memoir, ‘Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics,’ which he published in advance of his 2008 presidential run.
He wrote that he was trying to project strength and help unify the American people on that fateful day.
When Biden arrived at Union Station, Flight 77 had already disintegrated into the side of the Pentagon, and Washington was masked with a smoky haze.
He headed several blocks to the U.S. Capitol Building, ignoring protests over the phone from his daughter Ashley, arguing it was the safest place to be that day.
‘Damn it, I want to go in,’ Biden told a police officer who refused his access to the building.
Congressional leaders, at that point, had been moved to a secure location.
Meanwhile, President George W. Bush was on Air Force One and Vice President Dick Cheney was in the White House bunker.
Biden wrote in his memoir that it was important to ‘show the country we were still doing business.’
Linda Douglass, who was an ABC News reporter at the time, told CNN in an interview that she found Biden and Sen. John Warner of Virginia discussing who had the most seniority, as they wanted Congress to come back. Biden, at the time, served as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
‘He really felt it was important for the government to get right back to business,’ Douglass told CNN. ‘It was extremely important for the country to hear from a senior figure in the government,’ she added.
People run from the Capitol Building after Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on the morning of September 11, 2001. Biden arrived at Union Station after the Pentagon attack and an officer wouldn’t allow him to enter the Capitol
Biden agreed to jump on-camera and talk to ABC News, following Douglass to the live-shot location several blocks away.
‘I think we should get back as quick as we can, Peter, into session,’ Biden said as he stood beside Douglass and spoke to anchor Peter Jennings.
‘I think we have to show that we’re up, we’re ready, we’re ready to move, we are in fact – nothing has fundamentally altered this government,’ he continued. ‘And the tragedy that occurred to these thousands of people is one that we must in fact follow through and find out who’s responsible for.’
‘But in the meantime, we should be calm and cool and collected about going about our business as a nation. Terrorism wins when, in fact, they alter our civil liberties or shut down our institutions. We have to demonstrate neither of those things have happened,’ Biden added.
Biden wasn’t willing to place blame on American officials not focusing on threats.
‘This in a sense is the most God awful wake-up call we’ve ever had to how we have to redirect our resources,’ he said.
Biden (right) ran into ABC News reporter Linda Douglass (left) outside the Capitol Building and agreed to go on TV
During the TV hit, he also applauded Bush for coming back to Washington, as the president was en route.
Later that day, Biden received a call from Bush, thanking him for his remarks.
‘It was important to show the American people that everybody now was safe and that we were all together in this. There were the Democrats, the Republicans – we were going to be supporting the president totally. And that’s the message Joe sent, and that’s why the president called him,’ recalled former Rep. Bob Brady of Philadelphia to CNN.
Brady gave Biden and his brother a ride back to Delaware that day.
In his book, Biden wrote that Bush had told him the intelligence community had advised him to go to a bunker in the midwest.
Biden argued the president needed to return to Washington, which he did.
‘I hung up the phone, and there was silence in the van until Jimmy spoke up,’ he said of his brother.
‘Whatever staffer suggested he call you just got fired,’ Jimmy Biden joked.
Source: Daily Mail UK