By ZEKE MILLER and ALEXANDRA JAFFE, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Three American presidents stood somberly facet by facet Saturday on the National September 11 Memorial in New York, sharing a second of silence to mark the anniversary of the nation’s worst terrorist assault with a show of unity.
Presidents Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton gathered on the web site the place the World Trade Center towers fell twenty years in the past. Each man wore a blue ribbon and held his palms over his coronary heart as a procession marched a flag via the memorial earlier than a whole lot of individuals, some carrying photographs of family members misplaced in the assaults.
Before the occasion started, a jet flew overhead in an eerie echo of the assaults, drawing a look from Biden towards the sky. For a lot of the ceremony he stood together with his arms crossed and head bowed, listening whereas the names of the victims have been learn. At one level, he wiped a tear from his eye.
Biden was a senator when hijackers commandeered 4 planes and carried out the assault. He was Obama’s vice chairman in 2011 when the nation noticed the tenth anniversary of the strikes. Saturday’s commemoration was his first as commander in chief, starting in New York City and culminating late afternoon on the Pentagon, the place the world’s mightiest navy suffered an unthinkable blow to its very house.
In between he visited Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the place passengers introduced down a hijacked airplane that was headed for the U.S. Capitol. Biden and his spouse, Jill, walked with relations of the crash victims into the grassy discipline the place the jet got here to relaxation.
He mirrored on the necessity for unity when he dropped by the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department to ship Bud Light and thank first responders who responded to the airplane crash on Sept. 11.
“Everyone says Biden, ‘Why do you retain insisting on making an attempt to convey the nation collectively?’’ the president instructed reporters. “That’s the factor that’s going to have an effect on our well-being greater than the rest.”
It is now Biden who shoulders the accountability borne by his predecessors to stop one other strike. He should try this in opposition to fears of an increase in terrorism after the hasty U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the place those that deliberate the Sept. 11 assaults have been sheltered.
But on a day when his nation recalled its shock and sorrow, Biden left the speech-making to others.
Biden’s vice chairman, Kamala Harris, spoke in Shanksville on the Flight 93 National Memorial, praising the braveness of these passengers and the resilience of Americans who got here collectively in the times after the assaults.
“In a time of outright terror, we turned towards one another,” she mentioned. “If we do the exhausting work of working collectively as Americans, if we stay united in objective, we might be ready for no matter comes subsequent.”
Former President George W. Bush, talking earlier than Harris, recalled how 9/11 confirmed that Americans may unite regardless of their variations. It was a message, he mentioned, that was wanted immediately.
“So a lot of our politics have develop into a unadorned attraction to anger, worry and resentment,” Bush mentioned. “On America’s day of trial and grief, I noticed thousands and thousands of individuals instinctively seize for a neighbor’s hand, and rally for the trigger of each other. That is the America I do know.”
Biden, talking on the firehouse later, praised Bush’s message of unity, and talked about that he had taken photographs with some boys sporting Trump hats on the firehouse. Biden framed the necessity for unity as a vital to the success of democracies, asking “Are we going to, in the subsequent 4, 5, six, 10 years, display that democracies can work, or not?”
Former President Donald Trump skipped the official 9/11 memorial ceremonies and as a substitute visited a hearth station and police precinct in New York.
While Biden had no ready remarks of his personal Saturday, he did supply reward for Bush’s phrases, telling reporters in Pennsylvania that he thought the previous president “made a very good speech immediately. Genuinely.”
But unity was a theme that Biden emphasised in a taped handle launched by the White House late Friday. He spoke concerning the “true sense of nationwide unity” that emerged after the assaults, seen in “heroism all over the place — in locations anticipated and surprising.”
“To me that’s the central lesson of September 11,” he mentioned. “Unity is our biggest power.”
Biden is the fourth president to console the nation on the anniversary of that darkish day, one which has formed many of probably the most consequential home and international coverage choices made by the chief executives over the previous twenty years.
Bush was studying a guide to Florida schoolchildren when the planes slammed into the World Trade Center. He spent that day being saved out of Washington for safety causes — a call then-Sen. Biden urged him to rethink, the present president has written — after which delivered a quick, halting speech that evening from the White House to a terrified nation.
The terrorist assault would outline Bush’s presidency. The following yr, he selected Ellis Island as the placement to ship his first anniversary handle, the Statue of Liberty over his shoulder as he pledged, “What our enemies have begun, we are going to end.”
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been nonetheless lethal when Obama visited the Pentagon to mark his first Sept. 11 in workplace in 2009.
By the time Obama spoke on the tenth anniversary, assault mastermind Osama bin Laden was useless, killed in a May 2011 Navy SEAL raid. Though the nation remained entangled abroad, and vigilant in opposition to terrorist threats, the anniversary turned extra about therapeutic.
Trump pledged to get the U.S. out of Afghanistan, however his phrases throughout his first Sept. 11 anniversary ceremony in 2017 have been a vivid warning to terrorists, telling “these savage killers that there is no such thing as a darkish nook past our attain, no sanctuary past our grasp, and nowhere to cover wherever on this very giant earth.”
Jaffe reported from Washington.
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