President Biden and three former presidents delivered remarks Saturday for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks – offering world views that differed but also struck similar tones on such matters at terrorism today, unity and sorrow.
Biden visited all three sites of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks – New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia – but gave only pre-recorded remarks.
“To the families of the 2977 people, from more than 90 nations killed on September 11, 2001, in New York City, Arlington, Virginia, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the 1,000 more who were injured, America and the world commemorate you and your loved ones, the pieces of your soul. We honor all those who risked their lives in the minutes, hours, months and years afterwards,” he said before relatives of those lost in the attacks read the names of their loved ones with a roll call, a hallmark of each annual 9/11 memorial.
Still, like the former Presidents Donald Trump, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, Biden spoke of renewed unity, seen in the aftermath of 9/11, and the unending effort to keep Americans safe from more terror. He commended Americans for their “unity and resilience” before making clear to the next wave of terrorists, “We will hunt you down and we will make you pay. That will never stop today, tomorrow, ever.”
Bush, president at the time of the attack, also spoke about unity, and called upon Americans to recapture this spirit of America in amid 9/11.
“Be that America again,” he said in a speech in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where passengers of one of the four hijacked jetliners on 9/11 downed the flight before it struck a target.
Former President Trump, a native New Yorker, mourned the deaths and praised first-responders, though he spent a large part of his roughly 120-second, recorded speech railing against the recent U.S. withdrawal in Afghanistan, which he called an “embarrassment.”
“September 11 represents great sorrow for our country. Many things were displayed that day, including most importantly the bravery of our police, fire and first responders of every kind, the job they did was truly unbelievable,” Trump also said.
“We love them and we thank them. It is also a sad time for the way our war on those that did such harm to our country ended last week, the loss of 13 great warriors and the many more who were wounded, should never have happened.”
Obama attended the memorial Saturday at Ground Zero, in New York City, with first lady Michelle Obama, Biden and former President Clinton. In prepared remarks, he honored the lives of the 2,997 killed in the attacks, praised the resilience of surviving family members, remembered the heroes on 9/11 and noted that under his watch the U.S. military ended Osamba bin Laden’s reign of terror by capturing and killing the 9/11 mastermind.
“Today we honor the nearly 3,000 men, women, and children who died on September 11, 2001, and even more who lost their lives in service to our country in the two decades since,” Obama also said.
“For Michelle and me, the enduring image of that day is not simply falling towers or smoldering wreckage. It’s the firefighters running up the stairs as others were running down. The passengers deciding to storm a cockpit, knowing it could be their final act. The volunteers showing up at recruiters’ offices across the country in the days that followed, willing to put their lives on the line.”or smoldering wreckage. It’s the firefighters running up the stairs as others were running down.
“The passengers deciding to storm a cockpit, knowing it could be their final act. The volunteers showing up at recruiters’ offices across the country in the days that followed, willing to put their lives on the line.”