Marking the 22nd anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on Monday, President Joe Biden warned of a “rising tide of hatred and extremism and political violence” and called for the American people to unite behind the principle of democracy regardless of political party.
“We must not succumb to the poisonous politics of difference and division, must never allow ourselves to be pulled apart by petty, manufactured grievances,” Biden declared before gathered service members, first responders and their families at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska.
Standing in an airport hangar flanked with a massive American flag and mountains in the background, the president made the case that the “central lesson of Sept. 11” is that despite “flaws and disagreements, there is nothing we cannot accomplish when we defend with our hearts.”
Twenty-two years ago, nearly 3,000 people were killed when terrorists hijacked commercial airplanes, flying them into the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Another plane headed toward Washington, D.C. crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers on the flight fought back against hijackers.
“Never forget. Never forget. We never forget,” Biden said.
Rather than visit the traditional 9/11 memorial sites in New York City, Virginia and Pennsylvania, the president stopped at the military base in Alaska on his way back from attending the Group of 20 summit in India and meeting with officials in Vietnam.
“These trips are an essential part of how we're going to ensure the United States is flanked by the broadest array of allies and partners who will stand with us to deter any threat to our security,” the president said on Monday.
“Something that today, of all days, we’re reminded of is not a given,” he said.
Alaska's Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Democratic Rep. Mary Pelota and Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson greeted the president upon arrival at the military base, according to the White House.
Vice President Kamala Harris represented the administration at the annual ceremony in lower Manhattan on Monday. She was joined by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., New York Gov. Kathy Houchul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is seeking to challenge Biden and Harris for the White House in 2024, and his wife, Florida first lady Casey DeSantis also attended Monday’s ceremony in Manhattan.
First Lady Jill Biden, meanwhile, laid a wreath at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia to mark the day. Harris’ husband, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, visited a memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, for a ceremony honoring the victims of United Airlines Flight 93, the only one of the four planes that day that did not reach its intended target after passengers attempted to overpower the hijackers.
Spectrum News’ Justin Tasolides and Joseph Konig contributed to this report.