Biden honors victims of September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks

On the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, President Biden honored the victims of that day and their families.

Joined by first lady Jill Biden and former presidents, Biden paid his respects at the World Trade Center site in New York, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and the Flight 93 memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, killed 2,977 people from more than 90 countries and injured thousands more.

“On this day Jill and I hold you close in our hearts and send you our love,” Biden said in a video released by the White House. “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.”

President Biden and other U.S. political dignitaries standing with hands over hearts (© Chip Somodevilla/Pool/AP Images)
Former President Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, former President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and others join President Biden and first lady Jill Biden for the national anthem September 11, 2021, in New York. (© Chip Somodevilla/Pool /AP Images)

Biden praised the selflessness of rescuers who rushed toward burning buildings, the rescuers’ families and the countless others who have helped America recover and rebuild. Their courage continues to inspire others 20 years later, he said.

“There are people around the world that you’ll never know who are suffering through their own losses,” Biden said. “Your courage gives them courage, that they, too, can get up and keep going.”

He added that the days and weeks that followed 9/11 brought a “true sense of national unity,” exemplifying America’s “greatest strength.”

Sheikh placing flowers at front of U.S. Embassy in Kuwait (© Gustavo Ferrari/AP Images)
On September 16, 2001, Sheikh Ali Jaber Al Sabah, mayor of Jahra City and son of the Amir of Kuwait, lays flowers at the U.S. Embassy in Bayan, Kuwait. (© Gustavo Ferrari/AP Images)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a memorial service held September 10 at the State Department, recalled people congregating outside U.S. embassies in mourning and solidarity with the United States.

“As we saw that day, our allies’ and partners’ commitment to us, and ours to them, is a sacred bond that goes much deeper than relationships between governments,” Blinken said. “It’s a bond our peoples have built over many generations.”

Hard hat with writing all over it sitting in glass display case (State Dept./Linda D. Epstein)
Firefighters in Australia left this helmet at the U.S. Embassy in Sydney following the September 11 attacks. The messages include, “Come home safe!” (State Dept./Linda D. Epstein)

The selflessness and bravery shown in response to the attacks inspired people to serve their communities and countries around the world, and to keep the world safe from terrorism, Blinken said.

The dedication to service shown after September 11, 2001, also continues to motivate many Americans, including U.S. diplomats who attended the State Department service. “We want to engage the world in a way that makes their lives, and our lives, and the world better,” he said.

President Biden walking past wall engraved with people's names (© Noah Riffe/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Biden walks past the Wall of Names at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. (© Noah Riffe/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Biden too, said the memories of those lost continue to inspire a more hopeful future.

We will “lead not just by the example of our power, but by the power of our example,” Biden said. We will build “a future of promise, strength, and grace worthy of their dreams and sacrifice.”