Biden, Former Presidents Honor Lives Lost At 9/11 Memorials Across America

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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President Joe Biden joined former President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton on Saturday at the National September 11th Memorial in New York City.

The commemoration was one of several occurring across the country, and Biden visited all three 9/11 sites throughout the day. Former President Donald Trump did not join the other leaders in New York City, but did meet with police officers and firefighters that day in the state. (RELATED: Biden Orders Declassification Review Of Sept. 11 Documents)

While Biden did not speak to the nation on the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed 2,977 people – he issued pre-recorded remarks Friday evening on the subject – Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

“We are gathered today on hallowed ground, at this place that has been sanctified by sacrifice, to honor the heroism that the 40 passengers and crew members showed in the face of grave terrorism,” Harris said at the site where Flight 93 crashed after passengers heroically fought back against the terrorists.

“I remember when I first learned about what happened on that fateful flight.  What happened on Flight 93 told us then and it still tells us so much about the courage of those on board who gave everything they possibly could; about the resolve of the first responders who risked everything; and about the resilience of the American people,” she continued.


Biden briefly spoke to reporters about Flight 93, calling the acts of those on board “genuine heroism.”

“These memorials are really important,” Biden said. “But they’re also incredibly difficult for the people affected by them, because it brings back the moment they got the phone call, it brings back the instant they got the news, no matter how years go by.”

The president also praised former President George W. Bush’s speech in Shanksville, which occurred during the memorial for that flight. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush joined Harris, former Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland in Pennsylvania on Saturday. He spoke about the emotions of that fateful day 20 years ago and all that followed.

“We saw that Americans were vulnerable, but not fragile – that they possess a core of strength that survives the worst that life can bring,” Bush said. “We learned that bravery is more common than we imagined, emerging with sudden splendor in the face of death. We vividly felt how every hour with our loved ones was a temporary and holy gift. And we found that even the longest days end.”

“There is no simple explanation for the mix of providence and human will that sets the direction of our lives. But comfort can come from a different sort of knowledge. After wandering long and lost in the dark, many have found they were actually walking, step by step, toward grace,” Bush added.


Biden and First Lady Jill Biden began the day in New York City before moving onto Pennsylvania. They returned to Washington, D.C. on Saturday afternoon and attended a wreath laying ceremony at the Pentagon to wrap up the day’s events.

The 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that shook America follows the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan – a chaotic ending to a lengthy war that has pushed Biden’s presidency into turmoil. An Economist/YouGov Poll published Sept. 8 put Biden’s approval rating at just 39%, the lowest since he took office.

Biden has repeatedly defended the withdrawal, saying it was long overdue. Much of the criticism comes not because of the withdrawal, though, but in how it was executed. The administration appeared to be caught off guard in August when the Taliban swiftly took over Afghanistan, sending the country into chaos and prompting more troops to be sent back in to begin a mass evacuation process.

Despite appearing off guard, the administration claimed it planned for all contingencies, including a swift Taliban takeover. Still, Biden admitted that the move was unexpected. He once again defended the withdrawal to reporters on Saturday, saying there was no other way to get out of the country.

“It’s hard to explain to anybody, how else could you get out. For example, if we were in Tajikistan and pulled up a C-130 and said we’re going to let, you know, anybody who was involved with being sympathetic to us to get on the plane, you’d have people hanging in the wheel well. Cmon,” the president declared.