US President Joe Biden honors 9/11 victims at Pentagon ceremony on 21st anniversary of attacks

·2-min read
US President Joe Biden participates in a wreath laying ceremony to pay his respects to the victims of the 9/11 attacks (AFP via Getty Images)
US President Joe Biden participates in a wreath laying ceremony to pay his respects to the victims of the 9/11 attacks (AFP via Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden has invoked national unity after 9/11 as he commemorated victims in a wreath-laying ceremony on the 21st anniversary of the attacks.

Mr Biden led a solemn commemoration at the Pentagon to mark the terror attack with killed nearly 3,000 people.

Speaking as rain fell on troops standing behind him, flanking his defence secretary and top general, Mr Biden said: “I hope we’ll remember that in the midst of these dark days, we dug deep. We cared for each other. And we came together”.

He added: “I know for all those of you who lost someone, 21 years is both a lifetime and no time at all.

“It’s good to remember. These memories help us heal, but they can also open up the hurt and take us back to that moment when the grief was so raw."

He also spoke of a message sent to the American people by the late Queen Elizabeth after the attacks, saying that she “pointedly reminded us, quote, ‘Grief is the price we pay for love.’”

President Joe Biden speaks during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington (AP)
President Joe Biden speaks during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington (AP)

The atrocity, in which al-Qaeda hijackers flew planes into the New York’s World Trade Center towers and into the Pentagon in Virginia, shocked and stunned the world.

Passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 overcame the hijackers and the plane crashed in a field, preventing another target from being hit.

Tolling bells and a moment of silence began the commemoration at ground zero in New York.

Victims’ relatives and dignitaries also convened at the two other attack sites - the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.

Other communities around the country are marking the day with candlelight vigils, and interfaith services.

The first lady, Jill Biden, attended a ceremony in Pennsylvania on Sunday morning, while Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff attended one in New York City.

Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State and presidential candidate, also echoed Mr Biden’s plea for unity.

“We were able to come together as a country at that terrible time, we put aside differences. I wish we could find ways of doing that again,” she told CNN in an interview.

The anniversary comes a year after Biden ended the US-led war in Afghanistan, launched two decades ago to root out al Qaeda.

The chaotic withdrawal of troops last year and the resulting rapid fall of the country to the Taliban drew criticism from members of both political parties.

But Mr Biden vowed that the fight against terrorism would continue. "We will not rest. We’ll never forget. We’ll never give up," he said.

Asked by reporters whether the remaining accused plotters would be held accountable, Mr Biden said, “yes, there is a plan for that,” but declined to comment further.