5:05 p.m., September 11, 2021
In the presence of US President Joe Biden, New York remembered the victims of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 on Saturday. At 8:46 a.m. (local time), a minute’s silence began at the attack site in southern Manhattan, known as Ground Zero – exactly at the time when Islamist terrorists piloted the first of four hijacked aircraft into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York 20 years ago.
In addition to the President and First Lady Jill Biden, numerous relatives of the victims and survivors came to the memorial service at today’s memorial. Former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton were also present with their wives. Before the minute of silence, a choir had sung the US national anthem.
A total of six minutes of silence were planned to commemorate the impact of two aircraft in the World Trade Center, the collapse of the two towers, the impact of another hijacked aircraft in the US Department of Defense outside Washington, and the crash of a fourth hijacked machine in Shanksville, state Pennsylvania. The names of the 2,977 fatalities should also be read out at the ceremony.
Call for national unity
On the 20th anniversary of the attacks, Biden called on the United States for national unity. That is the greatest strength of the United States in the face of need, he said in a pre-recorded address. Biden paid tribute to those killed and injured in the attacks as well as the firefighters, nurses and many other helpers who risked their lives and in some cases also lost them during rescue operations.
Biden referred to the “darker forces of human nature – fear and anger, resentment and violence against Muslim Americans, against true and loyal followers of a peaceful religion”. This bent American unity, but did not break it. “For me, this is the central 9/11 lesson that when we are most vulnerable (…) in the fight for the soul of America, unity is our greatest strength,” said Biden. “Unity does not mean that we have to believe the same thing. We have to have a fundamental respect for and trust in one another and in this nation.”
Biden emphasized: “It’s so difficult. Whether in the first or in the 20th year.” Children grew up without parents, parents lost and suffered their children. In the days after the attacks, many people showed great heroism, said the president. “We also saw something that is far too rare: true national unity.”
Military operation in Afghanistan
As a consequence of the attacks, the then US President George W. Bush ordered a military operation in Afghanistan in 2001. The radical Islamic Taliban ruling there at the time had refused to hand over the masterminds suspected of being behind the attacks in Afghanistan. The Taliban have been driven out. Al Qaeda chief bin Laden was killed by US special forces in Pakistan in 2011. This was ordered by the then US President Barack Obama.
His successor in office Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of the US military from Afghanistan by the end of August this year. The fact that Biden implemented this and thus triggered the rapid overthrow of the Afghan government, which was supported by the West, and the return of the Taliban to power, has met with criticism – also from his own ranks.
Trump used the anniversary of the terrorist attacks to attack his successor Biden. In a video message published on Saturday, Trump accused the Democrat of “incompetence” in the Afghanistan withdrawal and said the president had looked like a “fool”.
Biden and the incompetent government
In the video, Trump initially described September 11, 2001 as a “very sad day” and praised the rescue workers’ efforts in the attacks. Then he went straight to criticizing Biden. “It is also a sad time because of the way our war ended last week against those who did so much damage to our country.” He was referring to the often criticized, chaotic withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
Biden and his “incompetent” government capitulated in Afghanistan. “We will have difficulty recovering from the embarrassment that this incompetence caused,” said the right-wing populist.
Unlike ex-presidents Obama, Clinton and George W. Bush, Trump should not attend any official memorial ceremony on Saturday. He wanted to comment on a boxing match for a streaming station that evening.