Watch CBS News

9/11 Remembered: President Trump, Former VP Biden Visit Flight 93 Memorial In Shanksville On 19th Anniversary

SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (AP/KDKA) -- A solemn ceremony, abbreviated and closed to the public due to the pandemic, marked the 19th anniversary at the Somerset County field where the passengers of Flight 93 overtook their hijackers and heroically brought down their plane on Sept. 11, 2001.

Both President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, are marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on Friday in Shanksville.

"It's been 19 years but sometimes it seems like yesterday. The wounds never close completely, the memories of our loved ones linger like a mist or a soft breeze," said Ed Root, the vice president of Families of Flight 93.

The two did not cross paths though, as President Trump attended and spoke at the ceremony this morning and Biden visited there in the afternoon following a visit to the 9/11 memorial in New York City.

Trump delivered a patriotic message in Shanksville as he shared the story of Flight 93, which officials concluded had been headed to Washington, D.C. until passengers teamed up against the hijackers, memorably declaring "let's roll" as they took them on mid-flight.

"The heroes of Flight 93 are an everlasting reminder that no matter the danger, no matter the threat, no matter the odds, America will always rise up, stand tall, and fight back," Trump said, telling the families of those killed that "today every heartbeat in American is wedded to yours."

(Photo Credit: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

Trump also noted how the country had come together after 9/11. There was no mention of the current divisions in the country over the coronavirus crisis.

"It was a unity based on love for our families, care for our neighbors, loyalty to our fellow citizens, pride in our great flag, gratitude for our police and first responders, faith in God and a refusal to bend our will to the depraved forces of violence, intimidation, oppression and evil," Trump declared.

Much has changed since that horrible day, but one thing all those speaking pointed out is that while time will march on, the act of heroism and selflessness of the 40 common people on Sept. 11, 2001 can never be forgotten.

"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," said President Trump.

Biden's afternoon visit did not include a speech, but he did talk about the bravery of the Flight 93 passengers and their selfless actions on that day.

"My mom used to say, 'Joey, bravery resides in every heart and someday it will be someone, and the question is will you respond.' These people responded and it is absolutely incredible," Biden said.

He went on to say, "Don't ever underestimate one of the marks of being American is understanding that there are some things bigger and more important than yourself."

The National Park Service, which co-hosts the annual Flight 93 memorial event, had originally said it was planning an abbreviated ceremony this year to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. The agency had been planning a 20-minute "Moment of Remembrance" without a keynote speaker or musical guests. The name of each passenger and crew member was to be read aloud with the ringing of the "Bells of Remembrance," according to the agency's website.

But after Biden and then the White House announced their plans to visit, the website was updated to reflect a new schedule that included remarks from Trump and the secretary of the interior.

Friday was Trump's second time observing the anniversary in Shanksville, where he made remarks in 2018. Biden spoke at the memorial's dedication in 2011, when he was vice president.

The 2,200-acre Flight 93 National Memorial marks the spot in rural Pennsylvania where the hijacked flight crashed, killing all 40 people on board. Three other planes hijacked that day were crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon. Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks.

At the Ground Zero, Biden and current Vice President Mike Pence shared an elbow bump — the popular COVID-era handshake replacement — as did Biden and second lady Karen Pence

Also happening today in Pennsylvania, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation is holding a "Towers of Light" tribute at the Flight 93 memorial and it will remain lit through Saturday morning.

That beam of light can be seen from as far as 60 miles away.

The foundation's mission is to honor first responders, like firefighter Stephen Siller, who lost his life while trying to save others on Sept. 11, 2001.

(TM and © Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.