Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, Jill Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Diana Taylor and Nancy Pelosi participate in a moment of silence during the 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony in New York on Sept 11, 2021. (PHOTO / BLOOMBERG)
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton all attended a somber ceremony Saturday morning at the National September 11 Memorial where the World Trade Center towers fell two decades ago.
President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton all attended a somber ceremony Saturday morning at the National September 11 Memorial where the World Trade Center towers fell two decades ago
Biden traveled next to the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville to attend a wreath-laying ceremony. Earlier, former President George W. Bush and Vice President Kamala Harris both spoke at the memorial.
Trump, instead of appearing at the ceremonies, traveled several blocks from his Trump Tower building in Manhattan to the 17th police precinct and the neighboring fire station in NYC.
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During an unannounced stop at a Shanksville fire department, Biden praised Bush for encouraging American unity in his speech. He also defended his administration's handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan in brief remarks to the press pool.
Biden's last stop in the day was the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Washington, D.C., where he attended a wreath-laying ceremony along with first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Biden did not deliver formal remarks on Saturday but released a video statement on Friday recognizing the lives lost in the deadliest attack in US history and calling for national unity.
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Nineteen terrorists hijacked four fuel-loaded US commercial airplanes bound for west coast destinations on Sept 11, 2001. A total of 2,977 people were killed in New York City, Washington, DC and outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The echoes of the destruction wrought on 9/11 — and what it took to rebuild after — weren’t lost on those gathering Saturday at Ground Zero, resounding the message by New York Governor Kathy Hochul: “We never forget, but we go forth into the future steeled in the conviction that yes, we were knocked down, but we are never out. Whether it’s a terrorist attack, whether it’s the pandemic.”
Hochul joined Biden, the Obamas, the Clintons and other US officials at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum to read the names of those killed in the attack.
Members of the U.S. National Guard embrace near the memorial pools at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum during a commemoration ceremony for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in New York, US, on Saturday, Sept 11, 2021. (PHOTO / BLOOMBERG)
Speaking in Shanksville, former President Bush, who took office eight months before Sept 11 altered the trajectory of his presidency, said the unity shown then was a far cry from the rifts now dividing Americans.
"Malign force seems at work in our common life that turns ever disagreement into an argument and every argument into a clash of cultures," he said, warning of the growing risk of domestic extremism. "So much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear and resentment."
Trump, who Democrats and even some Republicans blame for a coarsening of US politics, issued a video criticizing Biden's handling of the Afghanistan exit. He spoke at a police precinct near his Trump Tower home, repeating his lie that the 2020 election was "rigged" and telling officers they could stamp out crime if they were allowed to police without constraints.