Marking 9/11, Biden recalls ‘Precious lives stolen from us’

WASHINGTON – 21 years later September 11 attacksPresident Biden promised to never forget “the precious lives that have been taken from us” as he honored the victims of the worst terrorist attack in American history with a contemplative wreath-laying ceremony. under the pouring rain at the Pentagon.

“I know for everyone who has lost someone, 21 years is a lifetime and no time,” Biden said Sunday in a speech after the ceremony. “It’s good to remember. These memories help us heal. But they can also open up wounds and bring us back to a moment when pain was pristine. “

Members of the Biden administration visited memorials at the sites of the three attacks – Shanksville, Pa., the Pentagon and Lower Manhattan – to pay tribute to emergency workers and the families of nearly 3,000 victims, who continue to grieve because of lost memories, experiences, and relationships. Mr. Biden also marked the anniversary by encouraging Americans to defend the nation’s democratic system, again turning to the message that the country’s institutions are threatened by extremist forces at home. .

“It’s not enough to support democracy once a year or occasionally,” Biden said. “It’s something we have to do every day. So this is a day not just to remember, but a day of renewal and determination for every American. “

At the beginning of his speech, Mr. Biden reiterated part of his message that Queen Elizabeth II, who died last weekSent after the attacks: “She poignantly reminds us, ‘Grief is the price we pay for love.'”

The president’s speech comes more than a year after Mr. Biden ended the two-decade-long war in Afghanistan that the United States started in response to the September 11 attacks. defend the decision to pull American troops out of the country, the chaotic and chaotic nature of the withdrawal was also one of the darkest moments of Mr. Biden’s presidency.

When the Afghan government fell in August 2021, a bomb attack killed 170 Afghans and 13 American soldiers outside the Kabul airport. The United States has welcomed tens of thousands of Afghans who have supported US troops to the country, although many others with immigration hopes remained abroad, even after Mr. Biden promised they would have homes in the country. country.

Mr. Biden said Sunday that his administration remained determined to hold those responsible for the attacks, pointing out that last month the Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, was killed. in a CIA drone strike. “Our commitment to preventing another attack in the United States is not over,” Biden said.

The First Lady, Jill Biden, commemorated the day by visiting Shanksville and recalling with sadness the realization that her sister Bonny Jacobs, a flight attendant, may have lost a colleague in the attack.

“When I got to her house, I realized I was right. She not only lost colleagues; She has lost friends,” said Dr. Biden. “As we learn more about that dark day, she also feels proud of what happened here – proud that it was United Flight 93 flight attendants and passengers who fought back, who helped stop the plane from taking an untold number of lives not to mention our nation’s capital. “

The scene outside the New York memorial follows a familiar pattern. Vice President Kamala Harris and Mayor Eric Adams stood side by side as family members carried photos of their loved ones while others carried American flags or roses. There are unexpected glimpses of recognition and hugs between people who meet once a year. As the guard of honor entered and the national anthem was sung, the participants were clutching images of their loved ones who held them aloft.

There were moments of silence at 8:46 a.m., when Flight 11 hit the north tower of the World Trade Center, and at 9:03 a.m., when Flight 175 hit the south tower. Reading the names of the victims brought both tears and nostalgia.

David Albert was 13 years old when his father, Jon Leslie Albert, vice president of information technology at Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc., died in a terrorist attack. He read the names of his father and other victims. The feeling of loss is still there after 21 years, Mr. Albert said.

“The reality is that I, along with countless other children who have lost their parents, have missed out on countless memories, moments, conversations,” he said. “So while the pain may ease a little over time, my father’s permanent absence is still as palpable today.”

Anthoula Katsimatides, 50, an actress and trustee for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, has lost her brother John Katsimatides, 31, a bond broker at Cantor Fitzgerald.

“The more time goes by, the easier it is for people to forget or put it on the burner,” she said. Ms Katsimatides said the goal of the annual memorial service was to “teach younger generations” in an effort to avoid a similar tragedy in the future.

“They need to know, they need to be educated,” Katsimatides said. “And then their duty is to take the torch and pass it on.”

Zolan Kanno-Youngs reported from Washington, and Jeffery C. Mays from New York.

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