Dr. Jill Biden made history Sunday by becoming the first-ever first lady to deliver a solo Sept. 11 memorial address at the United Flight 93 Memorial Observance in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
She extended thanks to all flight attendants, both for the action taken on and in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and the jobs they have performed over the past two years in the face of “unkind and even violent passengers.”
“You have stories of hope, of the humanity that shines through the intensity of that event,” Biden continued. “9/11 touched us all. It changed us all, and it reminds us that with courage and kindness, we can be a light in that darkness. It showed us that we are all connected to one another, so as on this sacred and scarred earth, a record of our collective grief, and a monument to the stories that live on in us each day. This is the legacy we must carry forward.”
Her husband, President Joe Biden, took part in a wreath-laying ceremony and delivered his own speech at the Pentagon on Sunday, while Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff took part in memorial services in New York City. The Bidens attended services at all three 9/11 crash sites in 2021 to mark the 20th anniversary of the attacks.
Unlike many other lawmakers, then-Sen. Joe Biden was not in Washington, D.C., on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. He reportedly learned of the attacks while traveling to Washington via Amtrak, and the pair have spoken extensively about the pain experienced both by them personally and the nation as a whole in the days following the attacks. Jill Biden was in Delaware at the time preparing to teach her morning classes at Delaware Technical & Community College and alerted her husband of the tragedy in a call.
“Twenty years ago today, in our shared experience of shock, grief, and resolve, we found unity. We leaned on each other, realizing we are stronger together than apart,” she explained in a statement released in conjunction with the 20th anniversary. “It can be difficult to untangle meaning from loss and tragedy, when nothing seems clear and we just want one more minute of the ‘before’ again. Our feelings never follow a straight line. Yet, as we remember those we lost because of the Sept. 11th attacks, and contemplate our changed world since, may we honor their lives and legacies by reaching out for each other again in unity, recognizing that our similarities are infinite and our differences precious.”