President Joe Biden released a video on Friday evening to honor those lost or grieving the 9/11 terrorist attacks, saying to persevere in the face of evil or adversity is “the most ordinary of American things.”
In an emotional video shared to social media, Biden recounted the story of his friend Davis, whose family was mourning the loss of their 15-year-old son in a boating accident the year prior when Davis’ eldest son died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Days later, Davis would offer Biden, who was en-route to deliver an address at the University of Delaware, a piece of advice for his speech.
“[Davis] told me to tell people: ‘Don’t be afraid,’” Biden recounted Friday. “The absolute courage it took after two unimaginable losses, it’s extraordinary.”
The resolve shown by Davis is one of the “most ordinary American things,” Biden said, adding: “To know life can be unfair and uncertain or cruel twist of accident or deliberate act of evil.”
The video released Friday was meant to replace live remarks on 9/11 itself, since the president will be traveling to three different memorials in a short time frame on Saturday.
“The president felt it was important to visit each of these three sites to commemorate the lives lost,” said the White House press secretary.
President Biden again assumed the role of consoler-in-chief in Friday’s video, a position he knows well.
Biden himself is no stranger to tragedy, having lost his first wife and young daughter in a car crash in the 1970s. Biden’s oldest son, Beau Biden, passed away from brain cancer in 2015.
“We hope that 20 years later the memory of your beloved brings a smile to your lips, even while still bringing a tear to your eye,” Biden said.
The president went on to thank the thousands of first responders who came to the rescue on that fateful day two decades ago, saying their courageous work was a true sign of the resilience and unity of the nation.
“In the days that followed September 11, 2001, we saw heroism everywhere, in places expected and unexpected,” the president said. “We also saw something all too rare: A true sense of national unity.”
Biden arrived in New York on Friday night as the skyline was illuminated by the “Tribute in Light,” hauntingly marking where the towers once stood.
His first stop Saturday is scheduled to be at the National September 11 Memorial, where the twin towers of the World Trade Center were toppled as a horrified world watched on television.
The president will commemorate the solemn anniversary on Saturday by paying his respects at the trio of sites where the hijacked planes struck, puncturing the United States’ air of invincibility and resulting in the deaths of 3,000 Americans.
From there he was to visit the field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where a plane fell from the sky after heroic passengers fought terrorists to prevent it from reaching its Washington destination. And finally, he was headed to the Pentagon, where the world’s mightiest military suffered an unthinkable blow to its very home.
Biden’s task, like his predecessors before him, will be to mark the moment with a mix of grief and resolve. A man who has suffered immense personal tragedy, Biden speaks of loss with power and eloquence, and he has repeatedly addressed the grief caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed more than 600,000 lives across the country.
“Hope is a conviction,” Biden concluded Friday’s message. “Hope allows us to act with courage, to act and honor those we lost 20 years ago, and those who have given their whole soul to the cause of this nation every day since.”
Breanne Deppisch contributed to this report.