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Marking 9/11, Biden Remembers the ‘Precious Lives Stolen From Us’

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WASHINGTON — Twenty-one years after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Biden promised to always remember “the valuable lives stolen from us” as he honored victims of the worst terrorist strike in American history with a somber wreath-laying ceremony under the pouring rain on the Pentagon.

“I do know for all those of you who lost someone, 21 years is each a lifetime and no time in any respect,” Mr. Biden said on Sunday in a speech after the ceremony. “It’s good to recollect. These memories help us heal. But they can even open up the hurt and take us back to that moment when the grief was so raw.”

Members of the Biden administration fanned out across memorials on the sites of the three attacks — Shanksville, Pa., the Pentagon and Lower Manhattan — to pay tribute to emergency staff and families of the nearly 3,000 victims, who proceed to grieve over lost memories, experiences and bonds. Mr. Biden also marked the anniversary by encouraging Americans to defend the nation’s democratic system, turning again to a message that the country’s institutions are under threat by forces of domestic extremism.

“It’s not enough to arise for democracy annually or from time to time,” Mr. Biden said. “It’s something we’ve got to do each day. So this can be a day not only to recollect, but a day of renewal and resolve for each American.”

Early in his remarks, Mr. Biden recalled a part of a message that Queen Elizabeth II, who died last week, sent after the attacks: “She poignantly reminded us, ‘Grief is the value we pay for love.’”

The president’s speech got here just a little greater than a yr after Mr. Biden ended the two-decade war in Afghanistan that the US began in response to the Sept. 11 attacks. While Mr. Biden has defended the choice to tug American troops in another country, the chaotic and haphazard nature of the withdrawal can also be one in every of the darkest moments of Mr. Biden’s presidency.

Because the Afghan government collapsed in August 2021, a bombing killed as many as 170 Afghans and 13 American troops outside the Kabul airport. The USA has welcomed tens of hundreds of Afghans who assisted U.S. troops to the country, although many others who had hopes of immigrating remained overseas, even after Mr. Biden promised they’d have a house within the country.

Mr. Biden said on Sunday that his administration remained determined to carry accountable those liable for the attacks, pointing to last month’s killing of the Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, in a C.I.A. drone strike. “Our commitment to stopping one other attack in the US doesn’t end,” Mr. Biden said.

The primary lady, Jill Biden, commemorated the day by visiting Shanksville and recalled the sorrow of realizing that her sister Bonny Jacobs, a flight attendant, could have lost colleagues within the attack.

“After I got to her house, I spotted that I used to be right. She hadn’t just lost colleagues; she had lost friends,” Dr. Biden said. “As we learned more about that dark day, she felt pride for what happened here as well — pride that it was fellow flight attendants and passengers of United Flight 93 who fought back, who helped stop the plane from taking an untold variety of lives in our nation’s capital.”

The scene outside the memorial in Latest York followed a well-known pattern. Vice President Kamala Harris and Mayor Eric Adams stood by as relations carried photos of their family members while others carried American flags or roses. There have been sudden looks of recognition, and hugs, between individuals who saw each other annually. As the respect guard entered and the national anthem was sung, participants who had been gripping pictures 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 Trade Center, and at 9:03, when Flight 175 struck the south tower. The reading of the victims’ names brought each tears and fond remembrances.

David Albert was 13 when his father, Jon Leslie Albert, a vp for information technology with Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc., died within the terrorist attack. He read the name of his father and other victims. The sensation of loss stays after 21 years, Mr. Albert said.

“The fact is that I, together with countless other children who lost parents, missed out on countless memories, moments, conversations,” he said. “So while the grief recedes a bit with time, the everlasting absence of my father is just as palpable today because it ever was.”

Anthoula Katsimatides, 50, an actress and a trustee for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, lost her brother John Katsimatides, 31, a bonds broker at Cantor Fitzgerald.

“The more the time passes, the better it’s for people to forget or to place it on the back burner,” she said. Ms. Katsimatides said the goal of the yearly remembrance was to “teach younger generations” in an effort to avoid an analogous tragedy in the longer term.

“They should know, they have to be educated,” Ms. Katsimatides said. “After which it’ll be their task to take the torch and pass it on.”

Zolan Kanno-Youngs reported from Washington, and Jeffery C. Mays from Latest York.

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