President Biden marked the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with a visit to a military base in Alaska amid criticism about his travel plans to mark the solemn day.
The president visited Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage on Monday on his way back from Asia, following a trip to the Group of 20 summit in India and then a stop in Vietnam.
“These trips are an essential part of how we are going to ensure the United States is flanked by the broadest array of allies and partners who will stand with us and deter any threat to our security,” Biden said. “To build a world that is safer for all of our children, something that today of all days, we’re reminded of is not a given.”
The president opened his remarks with, “we never forget,” and he said that the distance between a military base in Anchorage and ground zero in New York “did not dull or diminish the pain we felt all across the nation on Sept. 11.”
Republicans have taken jabs at Biden for not visiting New York City or the other sites that were attacked on 9/11 to mark the occasion. Vice President Harris went to ground zero, first lady Jill Biden visited the Pentagon in Virginia, and second gentleman Doug Emhoff went to Shanksville, Pa.
“The president should absolutely be there, just like he should be in Ohio, just like he should be in Hawaii,” former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) told Fox News, referring to East Palestine, Ohio, which Biden still hasn’t visited following a train derailment earlier this year, and Maui, where he visited days after wildfires burned parts of the island this summer.
“You never forget what happened on 9/11, that shook America to its core,” Haley said. “He should be there; it’s a great message to send.”
And former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) called it “a disgrace” that Biden wasn’t planning on going to New York City for the anniversary in an interview with 77WABC.
The president in his remarks recalled his own experience visiting New York City after the Sept. 11 attacks.
“Ground zero New York, I remember standing there the next day and looking at the building. It felt like I was looking through the gates of hell. It looked so devastating … from where you could stand,” Biden said.
“Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the Pentagon in Virginia, I spent many 9/11s in those hollowed grounds to bare witness and remember those we lost,” he added.
When asked about when the president visited New York after the attacks, the White House sent information about a Sept. 20, 2001 visit. The president, as a senator, was part of a 38-member delegation that traveled by train to the site.
And, he thanked the 9/11 generation of service members while surrounded by members of the military and their families during his remarks.
“Terrorists believed they could bring us to our knees, bend our will, and break our resolve. They were wrong,” Biden said.
Updated at 7:37 pm.