Americans from first responders to former presidents spent Saturday honoring the heroes of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and mourning those who died to remember the 20th anniversary of America’s darkest day.
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden joined a crowd at the hallowed site where a pair of planes destroyed the World Trade Center.
More than 2,753 first responders and office workers were killed in the lower Manhattan attacks.
The solemn service included the traditional reading of the victims’ names for most of the five-hour ceremony.
To commemorate the attacks, six moments of silence took place, starting at 8:46 a.m. That was the time al Qaeda terrorists crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Mike Low, who lost his daughter, Sara, on Sept. 11, 2001, spoke after a moment of silence calling the site where the World Trade Center once stood “a quiet place of memory.’
Sara Low was a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11.
“History must be remembered not as numbers and a date but as the faces of ordinary people. People who looked a lot like Sara,” he said.
Mr. Biden was joined by former Presidents Obama and Clinton as well as several national and New York dignitaries.
Bruce Springsteen, a surprise guest, performed an acoustic version of his song, “I’ll See You in My Dreams.”
At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave a hopeful vision for the future of the United States.
Mr. Lloyd commemorated the anniversary at the Pentagon ceremony on Saturday morning, asserting that it is “our responsibility to remember” the events that happened two decades ago.
The secretary also touched on the unknown challenges of the future, but promised a prepared nation for whatever comes.
“We cannot know what the next 20 years will bring,” Mr. Lloyd said. “We cannot know what new dangers they will carry. We cannot foresee what Churchill once called ‘the originality of malice.’ But we do know that America will always lead.”
In Shanksville, Pennsylvania, former President Bush and Vice President Harris honored the 40 brave souls who valiantly stopped four hijackers from cashing United Airlines Flight 93 into another target.
The passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93 worked together to fight back against the hijackers and all were killed when the plane slammed into the field in Pennsylvania.
“The passengers and crew of Flight 93 must always have an honored place,” Mr. Bush said. “Here, the intended targets became the instruments of rescue. Many who are now alive owe a vast, unconscious debt to the defiance displaced in the skies above this field.”
Ms. Harris said the heroism of Flight 93, saying their courage is a reflection of the American people.
“What happened on Flight 93 tells us so much. About the courage of those on board, who gave everything. About the resolve of the first responders, who risked everything. About the resilience of the American people,” she said.
Mr. Biden later joined those who gathered at the field where the plane slammed into the ground to lay a wreath.
He later talked about the importance of having memorials during a visit to a fire station near Shanksville.
“These memorials are really important. But they’re also incredibly difficult for the people affected by them because it brings back the moment they got the phone call, it brings back the instant they got the news,” the president said.
He praised Mr. Bush’s speech and urged the nation to come together.
“Are we going to, in the next four, five, six, 10 years, demonstrate that democracies can work, or not?” he asked.
Mr. Biden concluded the day by laying a wreath at the Pentagon. He was joined by the first lady Jill Biden, Ms. Harris, the second gentleman Doulas Emhoff, Mr. Austin, and Mr. Milley.
Meanwhile, former President Trump made a surprise visit to police officers in New York. He honored their work, before ripping Mr. Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, a conflict launched in response to the 9/11 attacks.