Biden marks Sept. 11 anniversary with U.S. troops in Alaska

The president also talked about how he remembered "standing there" at ground zero "the next day and looking at the building," but he was in Washington, D.C. that day.

SHARE THIS —

President Joe Biden delivered remarks for the 22nd anniversary of 9/11 at a military base in Anchorage, Alaska, on the way back to Washington from a trip to India and Vietnam.

Biden spoke at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson before an audience of more than 1,000 service members, first responders and their families, a White House spokesperson said.

“On this day 22 years ago from this base, we were scrambling on high alert to escort planes through the airspace,” Biden said. “Alaskan communities opened their doors to stranded passengers.”

Biden's Alaska remarks were the first he has delivered in a 9/11 anniversary speech as president at a site that was not hit in the attack. Last year, he spoke at the Pentagon. In 2021, he visited ground zero in New York, traveled to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and then went to the Pentagon.

Biden said Monday he remembered seeing the devastation in New York the day after the attack.

“Ground zero in New York — I remember standing there the next day and looking at the building, and I felt like I was looking through the gates of hell — it looked so devastating,” he said.

But on Sept. 12, 2001, the Senate was in session and Biden was in Washington, D.C., where he delivered remarks on the Senate floor.

Biden did visit ground zero on Sept. 20 that year. The White House declined to comment.

The Republican National Committee quickly put up a post on the social media site X pointing out Biden's whereabouts on Sept. 12, 2001.

Other Biden administration top officials and their families are remembering 9/11 at the more traditional sites for administration commemorations. Earlier Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris visited New York City's September 11th Memorial. First lady Jill Biden laid a wreath at the Pentagon memorial in Arlington, Virginia, and second gentleman Doug Emhoff laid a wreath in Shanksville in honor of United Airlines Flight 93.

In his speech Monday, Biden also called for national unity above division, emphasizing the importance of coming together around democracy.

“We must not succumb to the poisonous politics of difference and division,” he said. “We must never allow ourselves to be pulled apart by petty manufactured grievances. We must continue to stand united.”

The administration will also give $4 million to the National September 11 Memorial & Memorial Plaza in New York City, the White House spokesperson said. The funds come from the 9/11 Memorial Act grant program.

On Monday, Biden also tweeted a compilation of moments from his speech last year at the Pentagon on the 9/11 anniversary.

“September 11 is a day not only to remember, but a day of renewal and resolve for every American — in our devotion to this country, to the principles it embodies, to our democracy,” he wrote in the tweet accompanying the video.

In last year's speech, Biden also referred to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and said that "our commitment to preventing another attack on the United States is without end."

The Alaska stop caps off Biden's around-the-world trip. He traveled to New Delhi for the Group of 20 summit, which focuses on international economic cooperation. After the summit, he traveled to Vietnam, which has become a significant U.S. partner in Southeast Asia.