Americans looked back Monday on 9/11 with moments of silence, tearful words, and appeals to teach younger generations about the terror attacks 22 years ago.
President Joe Biden, speaking at a military base in Anchorage, Alaska, urged Americans to rally around protecting democracy. His visit, en route to Washington from a trip to India and Vietnam, is a reminder that the impact of 9/11 was felt in every corner of the nation, however remote.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed when hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field in an attack that reshaped American foreign policy and domestic fears.
Two planes flew into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York. One plane was flown into the Pentagon. Another aircraft crashed into an open field in Pennsylvania after passengers fought back—the only plane that didn’t reach its intended destination.
At ground zero, Vice President Kamala Harris joined other dignitaries at the ceremony on the National Sept. 11 Memorial Plaza. Instead of remarks from political figures, the event features victims reading the names of the dead and delivering brief personal messages.
Some included patriotic declarations about American values and thanked first responders and the military. One lauded the Navy SEALs who killed al-Qaida leader and 9/11 plotter Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.
Biden, a Democrat, became the first president to commemorate Sept. 11 in the western U.S. He and his predecessors have gone to one or another of the attack sites in most years, though Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama each marked the anniversary on the White House lawn at times, and Obama also visited Fort Meade in Maryland.
Warning of a rise in extremism and political violence, Biden told service members and their families that “every generation has to fight” to preserve U.S. democracy.
First Lady Jill Biden laid a wreath at the 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon, where a giant American flag hung over the side of the building. Earlier, bells tolled and musicians played taps at 9:37 a.m., the time when one of the hijacked jets hit the military headquarters.
Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, laid a wreath at the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where another plane crashed after passengers tried to storm the cockpit.
Many Americans did volunteer work on what Congress has designated as both Patriot Day and a National Day of Service and Remembrance. Others gathered for anniversary events at memorials, firehouses, city halls, campuses, and elsewhere.
Reflecting the tragedy’s scope, U.N. General Assembly President Dennis Francis exhorted world nations Monday to counter extremism, build tolerance, and “join hands and say never again.”