Remarks by Vice President Harris on the 20th Anniversary of the September 11th Attacks
Flight 93 National Memorial
11:03 A.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. Good morning. Good morning. President Bush, it is my honor to be on this stage with you and Mrs. Laura Bush. And thank you, President Bush, for your words. They are as resonant today as the words you spoke 20 years ago. Governor Tom Wolf, Superintendent Stephen Clark, Madam Secretary, and the President of the Families of Flight 93, Gordon Felt: It is truly an honor to be with all of you at this field of honor.
We are joined today, of course, by the family and friends of the 40 passengers and crew members of Flight 93. And we stand today with all those who lost someone on September 11, 2001, and in the aftermath of the attacks.
So many in our nation — too many in our nation — have deeply felt the passage of time these last 20 years. Every birthday your loved one missed. Every holiday. Every time her favorite team won, or his favorite song came on the radio. Every time you’ve tucked in your children or dropped them off at college. You have felt every day, every week, and every year that has passed these 20 years.
So, please know your nation sees you, and we stand with you, and we support you.
We are gathered today on hallowed ground, at this place that has been sanctified by sacrifice, to honor the heroism that the 40 passengers and crew members showed in the face of grave terrorism.
I remember when I first learned about what happened on that fateful flight. What happened on Flight 93 told us then and it still tells us so much about the courage of those on board who gave everything they possibly could; about the resolve of the first responders who risked everything; and about the resilience of the American people.
On this 20th anniversary, on this solemn day of remembrance, we must challenge ourselves — yes, to look back, to remember, for the sake of our children, for the sake of their children. And for that reason, we must also look forward. We must also look toward the future. Because in the end, I do believe that is what the 40 were fighting for: their future and ours.
On the days that followed September 11th, 2001, we were all reminded that unity is possible in America. We were reminded also that unity is imperative in America. It is essential to our shared prosperity, to our national security, and to our standing in the world. And by unity, I don’t mean uniformity. We had differences of opinion in 2001 as we do in 2021. And I believe that in America, our diversity is our strength.
At the same time, we saw after 9/11 how fear can be used to sow division in our nation as Sikh and Muslim Americans were targeted because of how they looked or how they worshipped. But we also saw what happens when so many Americans, in the spirit of our nation, stand in solidarity with all people and their fellow American, with those who experience violence and discrimination — when we stand together.
And looking back, we remember the vast majority of Americans were unified in purpose to help families heal, to help communities recover, to defend our nation, and to keep us safe. In a time of outright terror, we turned toward each other. In the face of a stranger, we saw a neighbor and a friend. That time reminded us the significance and the strength of our unity as Americans and that it is possible in America.
So, moments from now, we will leave this hallowed place, still carrying with us the pain of this loss — this tremendous loss. And still, the future will continue to unfold.
We will face new challenges — challenges that we could not have seen 20 years ago. We will seize opportunities that were at one time unimaginable. And we know that what lies ahead is not certain. It is never certain; it has never been.
But I know this: If we do the hard work of working together as Americans, if we remain united in purpose, we will be prepared for whatever comes next.
The 40 passengers and crew members of Flight 93, as we all know, they didn’t — they didn’t know each other; most of them didn’t know each other. They were different people from different places. They were on that particular flight for different reasons. But they did not focus on what may separate us. No, they focused on what we all share — on the humanity we all share.
In a matter of minutes, in the most dire of circumstances, the 40 responded as one. They fought for their own lives and to save the lives of countless others at our nation’s capital.
After today, it is my hope and prayer that we continue to honor their courage, their conviction, with our own; that we honor their unity by strengthening our common bonds, by strengthening our global partnerships, and by always living out our highest ideals.
This work will not be easy; it never has been. And it will take all of us believing in who we are as a nation. And it will take all of us going forth to work together.
Thank you all. May God bless you. And may God bless America. Thank you. (Applause.)
11:12 A.M. EDT