News   Observances

Biden Calls Unity America's Greatest Strength on 9/11 20th Anniversary

Sept. 11, 2021 | BY Terri Moon Cronk , DOD News

Unity in America is the nation’s greatest strength – reflected by a coming-together of U.S. citizens in the days and months that followed the greatest attack on U.S. soil by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001, twenty years ago, President Joe Biden said.

Speaking to the nation in a recorded address yesterday from the White House, the president addressed the nation and the families of the 2,977 people from more than 90 nations who were killed that fateful day at the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a countryside field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania — in addition to the thousands more who were injured.

President Joe Biden speaks to the camera.
President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden delivers a speech to mark the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Photo By: DOD screenshot
VIRIN: 210910-O-D0439-500

''America and the world commemorate you and your loved ones — the pieces of your soul,'' Biden said, addressing family members of those who perished that day.

''We honor all those who risked and gave their lives in the minutes, hours, months and years afterward,'' the president said. The firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians, construction workers, doctors, nurses, faith leaders, service members and veterans comprise the everyday people who gave their all to rescue, recover and rebuild, the president said. 

''But it's so hard. Whether it's the first year or the 20th, some have grown up without parents and parents have suffered without children. Husbands and wives had to find ways to move forward without their partners in their [lives], and so on this day, [first lady Jill Biden] and I hold you close in our hearts and send our love. We hope that 20 years later, the memory of your beloved brings a smile to your lips, even while still bringing a tear to your eye,'' Biden said.

To me, that's the central lesson of September 11 — that at our most vulnerable, [with] the push-and-pull of all that makes us human, in the battle for the soul of America, unity is our greatest strength.''
President Joe Biden

In the days and months that followed the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the United States saw heroism everywhere, in places expected and unexpected, he emphasized. 

''We also saw something all too rare: a true sense of national unity, unity and resilience, the capacity to recover and repair in the face of trauma, unity in service, and 9/11 generations stepping up to serve and protect in the face of terror to get those terrorists who were responsible, to show everyone seeking to do harm to America, that we will hunt you down and we will make you pay. That will never stop — today, tomorrow, ever — from protecting America,'' the president said.

America also witnessed the darker forces of human nature: fear and anger, resentment and violence against Muslim Americans, who are true and faithful followers of a peaceful religion, the commander-in-chief added. 

The silhouette of a man standing in front of the Pentagon with a large American flag unfurled down the side of the building.
Flag Unfurling
First responders guide a flag unfurling over the side of the Pentagon before sunrise on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the Pentagon, Sept. 11, 2021. The flag unfurling was a practice run for the official sunrise service.
Photo By: EJ Hersom, DOD
VIRIN: 210911-D-DB155-001

''We saw a national unity bend,'' Biden emphasized. ''We learned that unity is the one thing that must never break. Unity is what makes us who we are — America at its best. To me, that's the central lesson of September 11 — that at our most vulnerable, [with] the push-and-pull of all that makes us human, in the battle for the soul of America, unity is our greatest strength.'' 

The Bidens attended the 20th memorial service today at 1 World Trade Center, at ground zero where the World Trade Center Twin Towers were attacked on 9/11. Also in attendance were former president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama; and former president Bill Clinton and former first lady Hillary Clinton. Former president George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush attended the 9/11 memorial service in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where terrorists overtook United Airlines Flight 93 that day and the plane crashed into a countryside field before it reached its reported destination of the U.S. Capitol.