Biden Marks 9/11 Anniversary in Alaska

'We know that on this day, every American's heart was wounded'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 11, 2023 1:42 PM CDT
Updated Sep 11, 2023 5:14 PM CDT
America Marks 22 Years Since 9/11
First responders salute as an American flag is unfurled at the Pentagon at sunrise to commemorate the 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon, during an observance ceremony, Monday morning, Sept. 11, 2023, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

This story has been updated with Biden's remarks. From ground zero to small towns, Americans looked back Monday on 9/11 with moments of silence, tearful words, and appeals to teach younger generations about the terror attacks 22 years before. President Biden, speaking at a military base in Anchorage, Alaska, urged Americans to rally around protecting democracy. "We know that on this day, every American's heart was wounded," Biden said. "Yet every big city, small town, suburb, rural town, tribal community—American hands went up, ready to help where they could."

Biden, who was en route to Washington from a trip to India and Vietnam, became the first president to commemorate Sept. 11 in the western US. Biden and his predecessors have gone to one or another of the attack sites in most years, though George W. Bush and Barack Obama each marked the anniversary on the White House lawn at times. Warning of a rise in extremism and political violence, Biden told service members and their families that that "every generation has to fight" to preserve US democracy. "That's why the terrorists targeted us in the first place—our freedom, our openness, our institutions. They failed. But we must remain vigilant," he said.

At ground zero, Vice President Kamala Harris, Republican presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani joined New York politicians and mourners at a memorial ceremony Monday. Ground zero has long been off-limits for politics on Sept. 11 and instead of remarks from political figures, the event featured victims reading the names of the dead and delivering brief personal messages, the AP reports. Some included patriotic declarations about American values and thanked first responders and the military. One lauded the Navy SEALs who killed al-Qaeda leader and 9/11 plotter Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.

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Another appealed for peace and justice. One acknowledged the many lives lost in the post-9/11 "War on Terror." And many shared reflections on missing loved ones. "Though we never met, I am honored to carry your name and legacy with me," said Manuel João DaMota Jr., who was born after his father and namesake died. Across the country, many Americans did volunteer work on what Congress has designated both Patriot Day and a National Day of Service and Remembrance. Others gathered for anniversary events at memorials, firehouses, city halls, campuses, and elsewhere. (More 9/11 anniversary stories.)

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