Bidens, former presidents mark 9/11 anniversary

WASHINGTON DC (Age-ncies): President Biden and first lady Jill Biden attended a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks at ground zero in New York City on Saturday.

They were joined by other former presidents and elected officials, including former Presidents Obama and Clinton, former Secretary of State and first lady Hillary Clinton, former first lady Michelle Obama and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (D). After Biden arrived at the ceremony, he was spotted talking briefly with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Several other government and current and former elected officials, inclu-ding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D), New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), FBI Director Christo-pher Wray and Attorney G-eneral Merrick Garland, at-tended the ceremony, acco-rding to the White House.

The solemn ceremony at the National September 11th Memorial began with an honor guard representing the New York City police and fire departments and the Port Authority Police Department.

Families of people who died in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001, are reading the names of the 2,977 people who died over the course of the emotional ceremony, which began at 8:40 a.m. Saturday morning. The ceremony also remembers the six people who died in the Feb. 26, 1993, World Trade Center bombing.

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 Shanks-ville, Pa.; and at 10:28 a.m., the time of the fall of the north tower on Sept. 11, 2001. Bruce Springsteen played “I’ll See You in My Dreams” following the second moment of silence just after 9 a.m. The president and first lady left the memorial just before 10 a.m. to travel to Shanksville to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony commemorating those who died on Flight 93 at the memorial site there. Biden will later return to Washington, D.C., to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon.

Biden is not scheduled to deliver remarks during the day on Saturday, but he instead released a video statement on Friday recognizing the lives lost in the deadliest attack in U.S. history, which took place 20 years ago, and calling for national unity.

“To me, that’s the central message of Sept. 11. It’s that at our most vulnerable, in the push and pull of all that makes us human and the bottom for the soul of America, unity is our greatest strength. Unity doesn’t mean that we have to believe the same thing, but we must have a fundamental respect and faith in each other and in this nation,” Biden said in the six-minute video. “That is the task before us, not just to lead by the example of our power but to lead by the power of our example. And I know we can,” he added.

Vice President Harris delivered remarks at the Flight 93 Memorial near Shanksville later Saturday morning during which she recognized the heroism and courage of the 40 passengers and crew members aboard the flight and called on Americans to honor them by uniting together.

“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.”

George W. Bush, who was president at the time of the 9/11 terror attacks, also delivered a speech during which he honored those lost and spoke of the strength of Americans in the wake of the tragedy 20 years ago.

“Facing an impossible circumstance, they comforted their loved ones by phone, braced each other for action and defeated the designs of evil,” Bush said of the passengers and crew members aboard United Airlines Flight 93. “These Americans were brave, strong and united in ways that shocked the terrorists but shouldn’t surprise any of us. This is the nation we know.”

Bush also took a moment during his speech to warn of the dangers of domestic terrorism following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters. Without explicitly mentioning the attack, Bush said there is “little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home” but that both exhibit “disdainful pluralism” and “disregard for human life.”

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