WASHINGTON, D.C. (NewsNation) — President Joe Biden commemorated the twenty-second anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history at a remembrance event Monday in Alaska, where he honored the lives lost.
“I join you on this solemn day to renew our sacred vow,” Biden said. “Never forget. Never forget. We never forget.”
Biden marked the somber occasion from Anchorage’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson as he is en route to Washington D.C., following a high-stakes trip to India and Vietnam for a series of meetings aimed at countering China’s rising global influence.
“We know that on this day, every American’s heart was wounded, yet in every big city, small town, suburb, rural town, tribal community, American hands went up. Ready to help where they could. Ready to serve like so many of you here,” Biden said in front of 1,000 service members, first responders, and their families.
Biden’s trip to Alaska drew some criticism for not participating in traditional memorial ceremonies in New York, Pennsylvania, at the Pentagon, or the White House similar to his predecessors — George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
The stop in Alaska marks the first time in Biden’s presidency that he is leading a day of nationwide remembrance from somewhere other than one of the three attack sites. Last year, Biden marked the anniversary by delivering remarks and laying a wreath at the Pentagon. In 2021, Biden traveled to ground zero in New York, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
On September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people were killed after four commercial planes were hijacked by terrorists, orchestrated by Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Two planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City, striking and destroying both towers. Another plane targeted the Pentagon. The last plane was intended to hit Washington, D.C. but the plan was thwarted when passengers and crew members stepped into action. The plane crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania killing all passengers onboard.
In the wake of those attacks, the United States initiated the “war on terror” to dismantle Al-Qaeda, resulting in a decades-long war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“The terrorists stole 2,977 souls that day. 2,977 souls,” Biden said. “But those terrorists could not touch what no force, no enemy, no day, ever could, and that is the soul of America.”
“Our longest war is over but our commitment to preventing another attack on the United States and our people and allies will never, ever rest,” Biden added.
First Lady Jill Biden participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was also in attendance.
In New York City, Vice President Kamala Harris stood alongside politicians and mourners at ground zero in lower Manhattan. The annual ceremony focused on reading the names of the men, women, and children killed on 9/11. Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff attended a memorial service in Shanksville, Pennsylvania to honor the victims.