President BidenJoe BidenJill Biden campaigns for McAuliffe in Virginia Fill the Eastern District of Virginia Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted MORE on Friday marked the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11 terror attacks with a prerecorded message in which he recognized the lives lost and the loved ones they left behind and called for national unity.
“It’s so hard whether it’s the first year or the 20th,” Biden said in the six-minute video released by the White House on the eve of the anniversary. “Children have grown up without parents and parents have suffered without children. Husbands and wives have had to find ways forward without their partners in their lives with them. Brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, loved ones and friends have had to celebrate birthdays and milestones with a hole in their heart."
“No matter how much time has passed, these commemorations bring everything painfully back as if you just got the news a few seconds ago,” he said.
Biden said that he and first lady Jill BidenJill BidenJill Biden campaigns for McAuliffe in Virginia Biden gets personal while pitching agenda Biden to have audience with pope, attend G20 summit MORE hold those who lost family members and loved ones in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks close in their hearts.
“We hope that 20 years later the memory of your beloved brings a smile to your lips even while still bringing a tear to your eye,” Biden said.
Biden began the remarks by mentioning a friend, Davis, he grew up with in Delaware who lost his eldest son in the terror attack on the World Trade Center.
“He told me to tell people, ‘Don’t be afraid,’” Biden said of his conversation with his friend in the days following the attacks. He closed with Davis’ words, as well: “We must not be afraid.”
The president reflected on the way that the terror attacks on U.S. soil 20 years ago shaped the American public, saying that it brought about both a “true sense of national unity” while also exposing the “darker forces of human nature” in the form of fear and anger and discrimination toward Muslims.
Biden, who has staked his presidency on trying to bring the divided country together, issued an appeal for national unity at a time of deep partisan divides.
“To me, that’s the central message of Sept. 11. It’s that at our most vulnerable, in the push and pull of all that makes us human and the bottom for the soul of America, unity is our greatest strength. Unity doesn’t mean that we have to believe the same thing but we must have a fundamental respect and faith in each other and in this nation,” Biden said.
“That is the task before us, not just to lead by the example of our power, but to lead by the power of our example. And I know we can,” he said.
20 years after September 11, 2001, we commemorate the 2,977 lives we lost and honor those who risked and gave their lives. As we saw in the days that followed, unity is our greatest strength. It’s what makes us who we are — and we can’t forget that. pic.twitter.com/WysK8m3LAb— President Biden (@POTUS) September 10, 2021
The president released the video ahead of his visit to all three memorial sites to mark the 20th anniversary. He will not make remarks on the anniversary of the terror attacks on Saturday.
On Saturday, he will travel to New York City, where hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. He will then travel to Shanksville, Pa., where 40 passengers and crew on United Airlines Flight 93 died after thwarting a planned attack on the U.S. Capitol. The president will also travel to the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., where American Airlines Flight 77 crashed after it was hijacked.
White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiJill Biden campaigns for McAuliffe in Virginia Buttigieg hits back after parental leave criticism: 'Really strange' Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted MORE told reporters earlier this week that Biden found it important to visit all three sites.
“The President felt it was important to — especially on the 20th anniversary — to remember to visit all three places that have significant meaning to many Americans, especially in those communities and to the family members of people who lost their lives, families who are still mourning loved ones,” she said.
She also shared this week that she spoke with the president about his memories of Sept. 11, 2001.
“He, of course, was on his way to his job in the Senate when he got a call from Dr. Biden, his wife. And we all remember distinctly that day and how much it's impacted us and has impacted us for the last several decades. That's true for him as well,” she said.
Vice President Harris and second gentleman Doug EmhoffDoug EmhoffThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by The Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations — Global supply chain bottleneck worries for U.S. economy The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Biden: We will fix nation's problems The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - New front in mandate wars; debt bill heads to Biden MORE will also travel to Shanksville for a separate event with former President George W. Bush and then will meet the Bidens at the Pentagon.