President Biden, VP Harris Attend 9/11 Remembrance Ceremonies

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Under cloudy skies and raindrops, thousands gathered at The National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City, exactly 21 years after the most horrific attacks on American soil. 

Family members, friends and loved ones shed tears and expressed lingering anger and pain as they read aloud every name of the people killed at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and on Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001 as well as those killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

A speaker who identified himself only as the cousin of a victim of the 1993 bombing and had some pointed words for the politicians seated before him.

“It took a tragedy to unite our country. Back then, nobody cared if you were a Republican, Democrat, age, race, ethnicity — we were united. It took a tragedy to unite us,” he started. “I want to remind all of you [politicians] there, it should not take another tragedy to unite our country. Because if I have to stand at this podium again or another podium for another event because of lives lost because of dereliction of duty, it’s going to hurt.”

President Biden acknowledged that grief during his speech Sunday at the Pentagon.

“I know for all those of you who lost someone, 21 years is both a lifetime and no time at all. It’s good to remember. These memories help us heal. But they can also open up the hurt and take us back to that moment when the grief was so raw.”

Mr. Biden also used the opportunity to address not just foreign threats, but domestic extremism.

“It’s not enough to stand up for democracy once a year or every now and then. It’s something we have to do every single day. So this is a day not only to remember, but a day of renewal and resolve for each and every American.”

Vice President Kamala Harris and the second gentleman Doug Emhoff appeared at the ceremony in New York City, and sat alongside the Governors of New York and New Jersey, Kathy Hochul and Phil Murphy, current New York City Mayor Eric Adams, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. 

Harris did not speak at the event, but tweeted a photo of herself alongside the elected officials with the caption, 

“We will never forget the 2,977 lives lost on 9/11. Today standing at Ground Zero, I am reminded of the impact this attack had on our nation and those who lost loved ones. Doug and I stand with you today and every day.”

In Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at the memorial for the heroes of Flight 93, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden stood alongside her sister, Bonny Jacobs who has been a longtime flight attendant with United Airlines and shared how the tragedy personally touched her. 

“It’s a job that she’s loved for many years, and I knew that the weight of this tragedy would be heavier for her,” she said. “When I got to her house, I realized that I was right: She hadn’t just lost colleagues — she had lost friends.”

40 people were on board when four hijackers took over. The passengers and crew fought back, attacking them. When that plane crashed in a field, it prevented another attack, but cost the passengers and crew their lives.

“It showed us that we are all connected to one another,” Dr. Biden said. “So as we stand on this sacred and scarred earth, a record of our collective grief and a monument to the memories that live on each day, this is the legacy we must carry forward: Hope that defies hate.”

It’s a message the White House says they will carry forward on September 15, when the United We Stand Summit “to counter the corrosive effects of hate-fueled violence on our democracy and public safety, highlight the response of the Biden-Harris Administration and communities nationwide to these dangers, and put forward a shared, bipartisan vision for a more united America,” according to Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice.

Civil rights advocates have been pushing the president to hold such an event since he took office.

It comes after recent horrific waves of violence, mass shootings, and other hate-fueled attacks.

Civil rights leaders, law enforcement and former members of extremist groups are all expected to be in attendance. The White House hopes the event will encourage peace and unity in a splintered country.

“The United We Stand Summit will present an important opportunity for Americans of all races, religions, regions, political affiliations, and walks of life to take up that cause together,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

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