Biden was a senator when hijackers seized four planes and carried out the nation’s worst terrorist attack in 2001. He is now celebrating the 9/11 anniversary for the first time as commander-in-chief.
The president planned to pay his respects at the trio of places where the planes crashed, but let others make the speech.
On the other hand the White House released a recorded speech Friday night in which Biden spoke of the “true sense of national unity” that emerged after the attacks, seen in “heroism everywhere in expected and unexpected places.”
“For me, that is the central lesson of September 11,” he said. “Unity is our greatest strength.”
Biden arrived in New York on Friday night as the skyline was lit up by the “Tribute to the light, ” eerily marking where the towers once stood. His first stop on Saturday was to be the National September 11 Memorial, where the twin towers of the World trade center they were shot down as a horrified world watched on television.
From there he was to visit the field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where a plane fell from the sky after heroic passengers fought terrorists to prevent it from reaching its destination in Washington. And finally, he made his way to the Pentagon, where the most powerful army in the world suffered an unthinkable blow in its own home.
Biden’s task, like his predecessors before him, was to mark the moment with a mixture of pain and determination. A man who has suffered an immense personal tragedy, Biden speaks of loss with power.
He expressed the pain that comes with the memories of September 11 in his video message, saying, “No matter how much time has passed, these commemorations bring everything painfully back as if they just received the news seconds ago.”
Robert Gibbs, who served as President Barack Obama’s press secretary, said that for Biden, “it is a time for people to see him not as a Democratic president, but as president of the United States of America.”
“The American people are somewhat in conflict over what they have seen outside of Afghanistan in recent weeks,” Gibbs said. “For Biden, it’s a time to try to reestablish some of that. Remind people what it’s like to be commander-in-chief and what it means to be the leader of the country at such a momentous time. ”
On the 20th anniversary of the attacks, Biden now assumes the responsibility that his predecessors took to prevent future tragedy, and must do so against new fears of a surge in terror after the United States’ hasty departure from the country from which the Sept. 11 attacks were launched.
Biden will be the fourth president to comfort the nation on the anniversary of that dark day, which has shaped many of the most important domestic and foreign policy decisions made by CEOs in the past two decades.
The terrorist attack defined the presidency of George W. Bush, who was reading a book to Florida schoolchildren when planes hit the World Trade Center. He spent that day outside of Washington for security reasons, a decision that then-Senator Biden urged him to reconsider, the incumbent president wrote and then delivered a short, interrupted speech that night from the White House to a terrified nation.
The following year, Bush chose Ellis Island as the place to deliver his first anniversary address, with the Statue of Liberty on his shoulder as he promised, “What our enemies have started, we will finish.”
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were still deadly when President Barack Obama visited the Pentagon to mark his first 9/11 in office in 2009.
“There are no words that ease the pain in their hearts,” Obama said.
“We remember the beauty and meaning of their lives,” he said. “No passage of time, no dark sky can overshadow the meaning of that moment.”
When Obama spoke on the 10th anniversary, the mastermind of the attack Osama bin Laden he was dead, killed in a May 2011 Navy SEAL raid. Although the nation remained entangled abroad and on the lookout for terrorist threats, the anniversary focused more on healing.
President Donald Trump vowed to get the United States out of Afghanistan, but his words during his one-year anniversary ceremony on September 11 in 2017 were a vivid warning to terrorists, telling “these savage killers that there is no corner. dark beyond our grasp, no sanctuary beyond our grasp. ” our grip, and nowhere to hide anywhere on this great land. ”
On Saturday, as Biden headed to the three sites, Bush was due to pay his respects in Shanksville, while Obama did the same in New York. Trump planned at least one stop in Manhattan and was to offer front row remarks at a boxing match at a Hollywood, Florida casino.
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