Three presidents stood somberly side by side on Saturday at the National 9/11 Memorial, sharing a minute of silence to mark the anniversary of the country’s worst terrorist attack with a display of unity.
Presidents Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton all gathered at the site where the World Trade Center towers fell two decades ago, but Donald Trump was noted for his absence.
They each wore blue ribbons and held their hands over their hearts as a procession paraded a flag through the memorial, watched by hundreds of Americans gathered in remembrance, some carrying pictures of loved ones lost in the attacks.
Biden is the fourth president to console the nation on the anniversary of this dark day, which shaped many of the most important domestic and foreign policy decisions made by business leaders over the past two decades .
On Friday evening, the White House released a recorded speech in which Biden also spoke of the “true sense of national unity” that emerged after the attacks, seen in “heroism everywhere – in places expected and unexpected.”
“For me, this is the central lesson of September 11,” he said. “Unity is our greatest strength.”
Biden arrived in New York City on Friday night as the skyline was illuminated by the “Tribute to Light,” hauntingly marking where the towers once stood.
After the morning ceremony in New York City, Biden will travel to the field near Shanksville where the plane fell from the sky, and then head to the Pentagon, where the world’s most powerful army suffered an unthinkable blow until at his home.
Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at the National Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Commemorating the heroes who shot down a hijacked plane headed for the United States. Capitol. Harris praised their courage and the resilience of the American people, and spoke of the unity Americans experienced in the days following the attacks,
Biden’s task, like that of his predecessors before him, was to mark the moment with a mixture of heartbreak and determination. A man who has suffered immense personal tragedy, Biden speaks of loss with power.
He expressed the pain that accompanies memories of 9/11 in his video message, saying, “No matter how much time has passed, these commemorations bring everything back painfully like you just heard the news a few seconds ago. . “
Robert Gibbs, who served as Obama’s press secretary, said for Biden: “Now is the time for people to see him not as Democratic president, but as president of the United States of America.” ‘
“The American people are somewhat at odds over what they have seen in Afghanistan in recent weeks,” Gibbs said. “For Biden, this is a time to try and reset some of that. Remind people what it’s like to be Commander-in-Chief and what it means to be the leader of the country at some point in time. such importance. ”
On the 20th anniversary of the attacks, Biden now assumes the responsibility of his predecessors to prevent future tragedies and must deal with new fears of rising terror after the US’s hasty exit from Afghanistan , country from which September 11 attacks were planned.
It was a war in which 47,000 Afghan civilians lost their lives and who were also, at least indirectly, victims of September 11.