US President Donald Trump on Friday led the nation in mourning victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack with a moment of silence along with First Lady Melania on Air Force One.
He delivered remarks at the memorial site near Shanksville in Pennsylvania.
Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden crossed paths at the 9/11 memorial site in New York, where on this day in 2001, al-Qaeda terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people in the worst-ever terrorist attacks in the recent memories.
At 8:46 AM local time, Trump and Melania participated in a moment of silence in a conference room cabin of the Air Force One to commemorate the moment the first plane hit the World Trade Center.
“God bless America,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said when the moment of silence was concluded.
“God Bless America,” the president repeated.
“The heroes of Flight 93 are an everlasting reminder that no matter the danger, no matter the threat, no matter the odds America will always rise up, stand tall and fight back,” Trump said in his address at the Flight 93 national memorial site in Shanksville.
“Nineteen years ago, on this day at this very hour on this field 40 brave men and women try out over terror and gave their lives in defence of our nation. Their names and their stories are forever inscribed on the eternal rollcall of American heroes. Today we pay tribute to their sacrifice and we mourn deeply for the nearly 3,000 precious and beautiful souls that were taken from us on September 11, 2001.
“While we cannot erase your pain, we can help to shoulder your burden…,” the president said.
Other hijacked planes struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center and then the South Tower and then the Pentagon.
“The terrorist on Flight 93 had a fourth target in mind. It was called our nation’s capital. They were just 20 minutes away from reaching their sinister objective. The only thing that stood between the enemy and a deadly strike at the heart of American democracy was the courage and resolve of 40 men and women, the amazing passengers and crew of flight 93,” he said.
In New York, both Pence and Biden visited the 9/11 memorial.
“In the memory of all those we lost on this day 19 years ago, in memory of the heroes that were forged that day and heroes forged on battlefields ever since and for the families, loved ones, and friends they left behind, I pray these ancient words will comfort your hearts and ours,” Pence said in his brief remarks as he read verses from Psalm 23.
Biden said: “Nineteen years ago, our nation was tested by an unspeakable act of cowardice and hate. Nearly 3,000 lives were cut short on that God-awful September day: a once-unthinkable toll which tore open the hearts of sons and daughters, parents, siblings, grandchildren and grandparents, neighbours and friends — loved ones faced with the harrowing, hollowing news that the dearest thing in their life had been suddenly taken away”.
“Like a generation once did in the wake of Pearl Harbor, this generation of Americans bore the burden that history placed on our shoulders that day.
“And this year, we mark the anniversary of 9/11 in the midst of another crisis that compels us to summon the best of the American people in the face of unconscionable, inconceivable loss — a crisis that has already taken nearly 200,000 Americans, testing our resolve and character with each passing day,” Biden, who also visited the memorial in Shanksville, said.
Defence Secretary Mark Esper led the ceremony at the Pentagon memorial.
“It was a vicious assault directed not just at our people and our institutions, but also at our most sacred ideals, freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Yet, in their attempt to shake the very foundations of our republic, to destroy our way of life, they underestimated our strength, our resolve and our unbreakable spirit.
“We came together as a nation on that fateful day and witnessed a tremendous outpouring of courage, compassion and sacrifice amid the grief, darkness and the disarray,” Esper added.