U.S President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden attended a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks at Ground Zero in New York City on Saturday.
They were joined by other former presidents and elected officials, including former Presidents Obama and Clinton, former secretary of State and first lady Hillary Clinton, former first lady Michelle Obama, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. After Biden arrived at the ceremony, he was spotted talking briefly with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Former President Trump, who released a two-minute video Saturday morning marking Sept. 11 that mostly criticized Biden’s withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, is not expected to attend any of the ceremonies. Instead, he is expected to provide commentary at a boxing match later Saturday.
Several other U.S government and current and former elected officials, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D), current New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Attorney General Merrick Garland attended the ceremony, according to the White House.
The solemn ceremony at the National September 11th Memorial began with an honor guard representing the New York Police and Fire Departments and the Port Authority Police Department.
Families of people who died in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001, are reading the names of the 2,977 people lost over the course of the emotional ceremony, which began at 8:40 a.m. Saturday morning. The ceremony also remembers the six lives lost during the Feb. 26, 1993, World Trade Center bombing.
The attendees observed moments of silence at 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center; at 9:03 a.m. when the second plane hit the South Tower; at 9:37 a.m., when the plane struck the Pentagon; at 9:59 a.m., the time of the fall of the South Tower on Sept. 11, 2001; at 10:03 a.m., when Flight 93 crashed in an empty field near Shanksville, Pa.; and at 10:28 a.m., the time of the fall of the North Tower on Sept. 11, 2001. Bruce Springsteen played “I’ll See You in My Dreams” from New Jersey following the second moment of silence just after 9 a.m.
The president and first lady left the memorial just before 10 a.m. to travel to Shanksville to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony commemorating those who died on Flight 93 at the memorial site there. Biden will later return to Washington, D.C., to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon.
Biden is not scheduled to deliver remarks on Saturday. Still, he instead released a video statement on Friday recognizing the lives lost in the deadliest attack in U.S. history that took place 20 years ago and calling for national unity.
“To me, that’s 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 fundamental respect and faith in each other and this nation,” Biden said in the six-minute video.
“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 added.