President Joe Biden commemorated the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks with visits to each of the three sites where hijacked planes crashed in 2001, honoring the victims of the assault.
Biden began the day in New York, where he and first lady Jill Biden attended a ceremony at the site where the World Trade Center‘s twin towers once stood before planes struck the buildings and caused them to collapse. The Bidens were joined by former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and former first ladies Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama.
Also in attendance were Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The attendees observed moments of silence at 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center; at 9:03 a.m., when the second plane hit the south tower; at 9:37 a.m., when the plane struck the Pentagon; at 9:59 a.m., the time of the fall of the south tower on Sept. 11, 2001; at 10:03 a.m., when Flight 93 crashed in an empty field near Shanksville, Pa.; and at 10:28 a.m., the time of the fall of the north tower on Sept. 11, 2001.
The Bidens then flew to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony commemorating those who died on Flight 93 at the memorial site there.
Vice President Kamala Harris and former President George W. Bush both spoke at the Flight 93 Memorial site shortly before Biden arrived.
“In a matter of minutes, in the most dire of circumstances, the 40 responded as one. They fought for their own lives and to save the lives of countless others at our nation’s capital,” Harris said.
“After today, it is my hope and prayer that we continue to honor their courage, their conviction with our own, that we honor their unity by strengthening our common bonds, by strengthening our global partnerships and by always living out our highest ideals,” Harris continued. “This work will not be easy, it never has been, and it will take all of us believing in who we are as a nation, and it will take all of us going forth to work together.”
Bush, who was president during the 2001 attacks, took a moment during his speech to warn of the dangers of domestic terrorism following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Bush said the US has seen “growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within.”
“There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home,” Bush said. “But in their disdain for 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,” he added.
From there the President and First Lady traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon. They were joined by Vice President Harris, second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs.