Biden honors 9/11 victims, vows commitment to thwart terror

  • President Joe Biden stands during a moment of silence during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, to honor and remember the victims of the September 11th terror attack.

    President Joe Biden stands during a moment of silence during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, to honor and remember the victims of the September 11th terror attack. Associated Press

  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, to honor and remember the victims of the September 11th terror attack.

    Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, to honor and remember the victims of the September 11th terror attack. Associated Press

  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Mark Milley, speaks during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, to honor and remember the victims of the September 11th terror attack.

    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Mark Milley, speaks during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, to honor and remember the victims of the September 11th terror attack. Associated Press

  • President Joe Biden salutes as he boards Air Force One at Delaware Air National Guard Base in New Castle, Del., Sunday, Sep. 11, 2022. Biden will mark the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks at the Pentagon. Sunday's somber commemoration comes a little more than a year after the Democratic president ended the war in Afghanistan launched by the U.S. and its allies in response to the terror attacks.

    President Joe Biden salutes as he boards Air Force One at Delaware Air National Guard Base in New Castle, Del., Sunday, Sep. 11, 2022. Biden will mark the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks at the Pentagon. Sunday's somber commemoration comes a little more than a year after the Democratic president ended the war in Afghanistan launched by the U.S. and its allies in response to the terror attacks. Associated Press

  • President Joe Biden participates in a wreath laying ceremony while visiting the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, to honor and remember the victims of the September 11th terror attack. Standing with the President are Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Mark Milley.

    President Joe Biden participates in a wreath laying ceremony while visiting the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, to honor and remember the victims of the September 11th terror attack. Standing with the President are Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Mark Milley. Associated Press

  • President Joe Biden speaks during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, to honor and remember the victims of the September 11th terror attack.

    President Joe Biden speaks during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, to honor and remember the victims of the September 11th terror attack. Associated Press

  • First lady Jill Biden participates in a moment of silence with the members of the Association of Flight Attendants at the Flight 93 National Memorial Wall of Names following a ceremony commemorating the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in Shanksville, Pa., Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022.

    First lady Jill Biden participates in a moment of silence with the members of the Association of Flight Attendants at the Flight 93 National Memorial Wall of Names following a ceremony commemorating the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in Shanksville, Pa., Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022. Associated Press

  • First lady Jill Biden speaks during a ceremony commemorating the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022.

    First lady Jill Biden speaks during a ceremony commemorating the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022. Associated Press

  • A first responder stands in a driving rain as a U.S. flag is unfurled at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at sunrise on the morning of the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

    A first responder stands in a driving rain as a U.S. flag is unfurled at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at sunrise on the morning of the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Associated Press

  • First responders salute in a driving rain as a U.S. flag is unfurled at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at sunrise on the morning of the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

    First responders salute in a driving rain as a U.S. flag is unfurled at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at sunrise on the morning of the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Associated Press

  • A U.S. flag is unfurled at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at sunrise on the morning of the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

    A U.S. flag is unfurled at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at sunrise on the morning of the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Associated Press

  • First responders stand in a driving rain as a U.S. flag is unfurled at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at sunrise on the morning of the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

    First responders stand in a driving rain as a U.S. flag is unfurled at the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, at sunrise on the morning of the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Associated Press

  • FILE - A man walks with a child through Fort Bliss' Dona Ana Village where Afghan refugees are being housed, in New Mexico, Sept. 10, 2021. President Joe Biden will mark the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks at the Pentagon on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022. Sunday's somber commemoration comes a little more than a year after the Democratic president ended the war in Afghanistan that was launched by the U.S. and allies in response to the terror attacks.

    FILE - A man walks with a child through Fort Bliss' Dona Ana Village where Afghan refugees are being housed, in New Mexico, Sept. 10, 2021. President Joe Biden will mark the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks at the Pentagon on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022. Sunday's somber commemoration comes a little more than a year after the Democratic president ended the war in Afghanistan that was launched by the U.S. and allies in response to the terror attacks. Associated Press

  • FILE - President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff, participate in a wreath ceremony on the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks at the Pentagon in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, standing at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial site, which commemorates the lives lost at the Pentagon and onboard American Airlines Flight 77. With the President, not shown, are Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and his wife Hollyanne Milley.

    FILE - President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff, participate in a wreath ceremony on the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks at the Pentagon in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, standing at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial site, which commemorates the lives lost at the Pentagon and onboard American Airlines Flight 77. With the President, not shown, are Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and his wife Hollyanne Milley. Associated Press

  • FILE - A Taliban fighter stands guard in the Shiite neighborhood of Dasht-e-Barchi, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday, Sept. 8, criticized President Joe Biden's handling of the end of the war and noted that the country has spiraled under renewed Taliban rule since the U.S. withdrawal.

    FILE - A Taliban fighter stands guard in the Shiite neighborhood of Dasht-e-Barchi, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday, Sept. 8, criticized President Joe Biden's handling of the end of the war and noted that the country has spiraled under renewed Taliban rule since the U.S. withdrawal. Associated Press

  • First lady Jill Biden participates in a wreath laying at the Flight 93 National Memorial Wall of Names following a ceremony commemorating the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in Shanksville, Pa., Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022.

    First lady Jill Biden participates in a wreath laying at the Flight 93 National Memorial Wall of Names following a ceremony commemorating the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in Shanksville, Pa., Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022. Associated Press

  • Visitors walk through the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial outside the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, on the morning of the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

    Visitors walk through the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial outside the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, on the morning of the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Associated Press

  • A flower is visible on one of the benches at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial outside the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, on the morning of the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

    A flower is visible on one of the benches at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial outside the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, on the morning of the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Associated Press

  • A flower is visible on one of the benches at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial outside the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, on the morning of the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

    A flower is visible on one of the benches at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial outside the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, on the morning of the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Associated Press

  • Flowers are visible on one of the benches at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial outside the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, during a ceremony to honor and remember the victims of the September 11th terror attack.

    Flowers are visible on one of the benches at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial outside the Pentagon in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, during a ceremony to honor and remember the victims of the September 11th terror attack. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 9/11/2022 1:25 PM

WASHINGTON -- President Joe Biden marked the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, taking part in a somber wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon held under a steady rain and paying tribute to 'extraordinary Americans' who gave their lives on one of the nation's darkest days.

Sunday's ceremony occurred a little more than a year after Biden ended the long and costly war in Afghanistan that the U.S. and allies launched in response to the terror attacks.

 

Biden noted that even after the United States left Afghanistan that his administration continues to pursue those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Last month, Biden announced the U.S. had killed Ayman al-Zawahri, the al-Qaida leader who helped plot the Sept. 11 attacks, in a clandestine operation.

'We will never forget, we will never give up,' Biden said. 'Our commitment to preventing another attack on the United States is without end.'

The president was joined by family members of the fallen, first responders who had been at the Pentagon on the day of the attack, as well as Defense Department leadership for the annual moment of tribute carried out in New York City, the Pentagon and Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

In ending the Afghanistan war, the Democratic president followed through on a campaign pledge to bring home U.S. troops from the country's longest conflict. But the war concluded chaotically in August 2021, when the U.S.-backed Afghan government collapsed, a grisly bombing killed 170 Afghans and 13 U.S. troops at Kabul's airport, and thousands of desperate Afghans gathered in hopes of escape before the final U.S. cargo planes departed over the Hindu Kush.

Biden marked the one-year anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan late last month in low-key fashion. He issued a statement in honor of the 13 U.S. troops killed in the bombing at the Kabul airport and spoke by phone with U.S. veterans assisting ongoing efforts to resettle in the United States Afghans who helped the war effort.

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Biden on Sunday said an 'incredible debt' was owed to the U.S. troops who served in Afghanistan as well as their families. More than 2,200 U.S. service members were killed and more than 20,000 were wounded over the course of the nearly 20-year war, according to the Pentagon.

He also vowed that the nation will 'never fail to meet the sacred obligation to you to properly prepare and equip those that we send into harm's way and care for those and their families when they come home - and to never, ever, ever forget.'

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday criticized Biden's handling of the end of the war and noted that the country has spiraled downward under renewed Taliban rule since the U.S. withdrawal.

'Now, one year on from last August's disaster, the devastating scale of the fallout from President Biden's decision has come into sharper focus," McConnell said. 'Afghanistan has become a global pariah. Its economy has shrunk by nearly a third. Half of its population is now suffering critical levels of food insecurity."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The president also remembered the words of comfort Queen Elizabeth II, who died last week, sent to the American people soon after the 2001 attacks: 'Grief is the price we pay for love." Biden said those words remain as poignant as they did 21 years ago but the weight of loss also remains heavy.

'On this day, when the price feels so great, Jill and I are holding all of you close to our hearts.' Biden said.

Biden has recently dialed up warnings about what he calls the 'extreme ideology' of former President Donald Trump and his 'MAGA Republican" adherents as a threat to American democracy. Without naming Trump, Biden again on Sunday raised a call for Americans to safeguard democracy.

'It's not enough to stand up for democracy once a year or every now and then,' Biden said. 'It's something we have to do every single day. So this is a day not only to remember, but also is a day for renewal and resolve for each and every American in our devotion to this country, to the principles it embodies, to our democracy.'

First lady Jill Biden spoke to a crowd at the Flight 93 National Memorial Observance in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where she recalled the concern she had about her sister Bonny Jacobs, a United Airlines flight attendant.

She said the attacks showed that 'with courage and kindness we can be a light in that darkness.'

'It showed us that we are all connected to one another,' said Biden, who was joined by her sister in Shanksville for Sunday's commemoration. 'So as we stand on this sacred and scarred earth, a record of our collective grief and a monument to the memories that live on each day, this is the legacy we much carry forward: Hope that defies hate.'

Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband attended a commemoration ceremony at the National September 11th Memorial in New York.

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