In a video message marking the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, Democratic President Joe Biden told the story of a friend who lost a son in the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
His friend’s eldest son, Davis Jr., had just been working six days in a new job on the 104th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. On that fateful Tuesday morning at 8:46 a.m., an airplane hit the north tower. Seventeen minutes later, an airplane hit the south tower.
“They went straight to Ground Zero to look for a son,” Biden said. “You have searched deeply, to the very end of hope.”
The year before, his friend’s family had lost their youngest son, a 15-year-old who was killed in a boat accident. Despite the double tragedies, Biden’s friend reminded him of the most important things.
“I was on my way to speak to the University of Delaware students about what to think of the new world we were in,” said Biden. “He told me to tell people to quote,” Don’t be afraid. Tell them, ‘Don’t be afraid.’ “
Biden called it “extraordinary, yet the most common of all American things: knowing that life can be unfair and uncertain – a cruel turn, an accident, or a deliberate act of evil – but still being the light even in the dark” .
America and the world commemorate the families of the 2,977 people from over 90 nations killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City; Arlington, Virginia; and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, said Biden. Biden also remembered the 1,000 injured and their families.
Biden also praised those who helped “rescue, recover and rebuild” immediately after the attack. He honored first responders, medical workers, construction workers, religious leaders, service members, veterans and others “who risked their lives and gave” to help “in the minutes, hours, months and years after” the attack.
“We saw heroism everywhere in places that were expected and unexpected,” he added. “We also saw something all too rare, a real sense of national unity.”
The president acknowledged the plight of those who had to go on living without their loved ones who were killed in the attack. These include young children in their twenties who grew up without parents, spouses who had to endure being widowed, and family and friends who had to celebrate birthdays and other milestones with a hole in their hearts, he said.
Biden then promised to always hunt down anti-American terrorists. He said the nation experienced a rare sense of national unity for that goal and a stronger resurrection than before in the days following the attack.
“Unity doesn’t mean we have to believe the same thing,” he said. “We have to have a fundamental respect and trust for one another and in this nation.”
He said the US remains unique in world history because it is built on the belief that all people are equal and should be treated like this throughout their lives. By continuing to recover from the attacks – by acting with honor and courage rather than reactionary fear, Biden said – the US can be a powerful example of devotion to the faith and the wonders of life.
News week contacted the White House for comment.