President Donald Trump marked Friday’s 19th anniversary of 9/11 by visiting the rural Pennsylvania field where Flight 93 crashed, as many of the nation’s other prominent politicians gathered in New York City to remember and honor the victims of the worst terror attack in American history.
Speaking before the Flight 93 memorial wall in Shanksville, Trump hailed the passengers of the plane as “true heroes” for storming into the cockpit on Sept. 11, 2001, retaking control of the aircraft and quashing the terrorists’ plans to crash it into the U.S. Capitol.
“When terrorists raced to destroy the seat of our democracy, the 40 of Flight 93 did the most American of things: They took a vote and then they acted,” Trump said in prepared remarks. “Together, they charged the cockpit, they confronted pure evil and in their last act on this Earth, they saved our capital.”
A small crowd of family members of the victims of Flight 93 were gathered on a lawn in front of Trump as he spoke.
The attendants wore face masks and sat at least six feet apart in compliance with coronavirus guidelines, a reminder of the pandemic struggles underpinning this year’s somber commemoration ceremonies.
Though his speech was devoid of characteristic partisan jabs, Trump couldn’t resist listing off some of his administration’s military achievements.
“Less than one year ago, American warriors took out the savage killer and leader of ISIS, al-Baghdadi,” Trump said, as the Flight 93 family members looked on. “Soon after, our warriors ended the brutal reign of the Iranian butcher, who murdered thousands of American service members. The world’s top terrorist, Qassem Soleimani, is dead.”
The president also paid tribute to the hundreds of first responders in his native New York who gave their lives to search for survivors in the rubble of the World Trade Center.
“As ash rained down, police officers, first responders and firefighters ran into the fires of hell,” Trump said. “On that day, more than 400 first responders gave their lives, including 23 New York City police officers, 37 Port Authority workers and 343 New York City firefighters. Today, we honor their extraordinary sacrifice and every first responder who keeps America safe.”
After his speech, Trump and his wife laid a wreath at the memorial wall, which lists the names of the 40 passengers, before heading back to the White House.
Over in New York, Joe Biden, Vice President Mike Pence, Gov. Cuomo and a phalanx of other political leaders from both sides of the aisle gathered at Ground Zero to take part in a memorial service.
Pence and Biden could be seen bumping elbows and exchanging a few words before the ceremony got underway.
Biden and his wife were set to attend an afternoon ceremony at the Shanksville memorial.
As expected, the White House and Biden’s campaign scheduled the dueling Shanksville visits in such a way that the presidential candidates didn’t have to cross paths.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.