WASHINGTON — Twenty-one years after the Sept. 11 assaults, President Biden promised to always remember “the valuable lives stolen from us” as he honored victims of the worst terrorist strike in American historical past with a somber wreath-laying ceremony underneath the pouring rain on the Pentagon.
“I do know for all these of you who misplaced somebody, 21 years is each a lifetime and no time in any respect,” Mr. Biden mentioned on Sunday in a speech after the ceremony. “It’s good to recollect. These reminiscences assist us heal. However they will additionally open up the harm and take us again to that second when the grief was so uncooked.”
Members of the Biden administration fanned out throughout memorials on the websites of the three assaults — Shanksville, Pa., the Pentagon and Decrease Manhattan — to pay tribute to emergency staff and households of the victims, who proceed to grieve over misplaced reminiscences, experiences and bonds. Mr. Biden additionally marked the anniversary by encouraging Individuals to defend the nation’s democratic system, turning once more to a message that the nation’s establishments are underneath menace by forces of home extremism.
“It’s not sufficient to face up for democracy every year or now and again,” Mr. Biden mentioned. “It’s one thing now we have to do each single day. So this can be a day not solely to recollect, however a day of renewal and resolve for each American.”
Early in his remarks, Mr. Biden quoted Queen Elizabeth II, who died final week, when he mentioned that “grief is the worth we pay for love.”
Reporting From Afghanistan
The president’s remarks got here just a little greater than a 12 months after Mr. Biden ended the two-decade battle in Afghanistan that the USA started in response to the Sept. 11 assaults. Whereas Mr. Biden has defended the choice to tug American troops overseas, the chaotic and haphazard nature of the withdrawal can also be one of many darkest moments of Mr. Biden’s presidency.
Because the Afghan authorities collapsed in August 2021, a bombing killed as many as 170 Afghans and 13 American troops close to the Kabul airport. America has welcomed tens of 1000’s of Afghans who assisted U.S. troops to the nation, though many others who had hopes of immigrating remained abroad, even after Mr. Biden promised they might have a house within the nation.
Mr. Biden mentioned on Sunday that his administration remained decided to carry accountable these liable for the assaults, pointing to final month’s killing of the Qaeda chief, Ayman al-Zawahri, in a C.I.A. drone strike. “Our dedication to stopping one other assault in the USA doesn’t finish,” Mr. Biden mentioned.
The primary woman, Jill Biden, commemorated the day by visiting Shanksville, and Vice President Kamala Harris stood alongside Mayor Eric Adams on the 9/11 Memorial and Museum at floor zero in New York Metropolis.
The scene outdoors the memorial in New York adopted a well-recognized sample. Relations carried images of their family members whereas others carried American flags or roses. There have been sudden seems of recognition, and hugs, between individuals who noticed one another every year. As the respect guard entered and the nationwide anthem was sung, contributors who had been gripping photos of their family members held them aloft.
There have been moments of silence at 8:46 a.m., when Flight 11 struck the north tower of the World Commerce Middle, and at 9:03, when Flight 175 struck the south tower. The studying of the victims’ names introduced each tears and fond remembrances.
David Albert was 13 when his father, Jon Leslie Albert, a vice chairman for info expertise with Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc., died within the terrorist assault. He learn the identify of his father and different victims. The sensation of loss stays after 21 years, Mr. Albert mentioned.
“The truth is that I, together with numerous different youngsters who misplaced dad and mom, missed out on numerous reminiscences, moments, conversations,” he mentioned. “So whereas the grief recedes a bit with time, the everlasting absence of my father is simply as palpable as we speak because it ever was.”
Anthoula Katsimatides, 50, an actress and a trustee for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, misplaced her brother John Katsimatides, 31, a bonds dealer at Cantor Fitzgerald.
“The extra the time passes, the simpler it’s for individuals to neglect or to place it on the again burner,” she mentioned. Ms. Katsimatides mentioned the objective of the yearly remembrance was to “educate youthful generations” in an effort to keep away from the same tragedy sooner or later.
“They should know, they must be educated,” Ms. Kastimatides mentioned. “After which it’ll be their activity to take the torch and go it on.”
Zolan Kanno-Youngs reported from Washington, and Jeffery C. Mays from New York.