Ahead of the 15th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, Vice President Joe Biden reflected on the will of the American public not to falter despite the “incredibly devastating” attacks.
“The nation didn’t bend, it didn’t break,” he said.
Speaking to Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric, Biden praised the ability of Americans to “just get up,” even after further attacks, such as the Boston Marathon bombing and San Bernardino shooting. “I think elected officials so underestimate the grit, determination and absolute courage of the American people.”
On Sept. 11, 2001, Biden was a senator from Delaware and chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“What was underestimated by everyone, I think, is the lingering consequences for the people, and the firefighters, the first responders, and now people who were just in the area,” said Biden.
Biden was speaking to Couric following an emotional appeal at the Stand Up to Cancer telecast in Los Angeles. Last year, his son Beau died of brain cancer at just 46.
“Speaking of cancer, there’s mounting evidence that a lot of these folks are coming away with cancers, the consequence of being exposed to everything from the asbestos to the burning plastic, the whole range of things.”
More than 5,000 cases of cancer have been linked to the toxic dust that workers encountered in Lower Manhattan after the attacks, and the number is steadily rising according to CDC data.
Late last year, Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act, named for a New York City police officer who died of a respiratory disease attributed to his search-and-rescue efforts after the attacks. The $8.1 billion law is intended to cover anyone who suffers from diseases related to service in the aftermath of Sept. 11.
On Sunday, the vice president is planning to participate in a pregame ceremony with first responders to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks at the Philadelphia Eagles-Cleveland Browns NFL game in Philadelphia.