President Biden honored the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001, and those they left behind, and called for unity in a video message released Friday to mark the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks.
“Children have grown up without parents and parents have suffered without children. Husbands and wives have had to find ways forward without their partners in their lives with them. Brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, loved ones and friends have had to celebrate birthdays and milestones with a hole in their heart,” he said in the six-minute prerecorded message.
“No matter how time has passed, these commemorations bring everything painfully back as if you got the news a few seconds ago,” he said.
He said that he hopes those who lost loved ones in the attacks can spend Saturday with “a smile on their lips” even while memorial ceremonies “bring a tear to your eye.”
Mr. Biden recalled a friend named Davis, who grew up with him in Delaware and lost his eldest son in the terror attack on the World Trade Center.
“He told me to tell people, ‘Don’t be afraid,’” Mr. Biden said Davis told him after the attacks. “We must not be afraid.”
The president also urged Americans to come together amid the deep partisan rancor. He said “unity” was the central message of Sept. 11.
“It’s that at our most vulnerable, in the push and pull of all that makes us human and the bottom for the soul of America, unity is our greatest strength. Unity doesn’t mean that we have to believe the same thing but we must have a fundamental respect and faith in each other and in this nation,” Mr. Biden said.
“That is the task before us, not just to lead by the example of our power, but to lead by the power of our example. And I know we can,” he continued.
Mr. Biden will travel to all three memorial sites on Saturday. He will begin his morning at Ground Zero in New York City before traveling to Shanksville, Pa., and concluding his day at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.
He is the first president to visit all three memorials on Sept. 11 since former President Obama did it on the 10th anniversary of the attacks in 2001.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Mr. Biden felt it was necessary to visit all three sites.
“The President felt it was important to – especially on the 20th anniversary – to remember to visit all three places that have significant meaning to many Americans, especially in those communities and to the family members of people who lost their lives, families who are still mourning loved ones,” she said.