Shanksville, Pennsylvania – President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden on Friday commemorated the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, with acts where their differences in style could not have been more pronounced: One dedicated the time to quietly comfort families and the other proclaimed America’s might.
Both Trump and Biden traveled to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the rural area where the hijacked Flight 93 plane crashed in a field and everyone on board was killed, but their paths did not cross. Trump spoke at the scene during the morning ceremony and Biden later, after attending the annual commemoration at the 9/11 National Monument and Museum in New York along with Vice President Mike Pence.
In an unusual moment of deflection during an aggressive campaign, Biden walked up to Pence and tapped him on the shoulder to greet him. Then they collided elbows – the salute that replaces the handshake during the pandemic – and Biden repeated the salute with second lady Karen Pence.RELATED
Although there will not be a similar meeting between Biden and Trump, the day will bring the two candidates closer in a way that has not happened in months. Furthermore, while the country is focused on commemorations, the political significance of his visits to Shanksville is impossible to ignore: Pennsylvania is a crucial state in the 2020 election. Trump won it by less than one percentage point in 2016 and the Democrats they hope to get it back this year.
Still, Biden emphasized that he will depart from politics on a national day of mourning that takes place in the midst of an unfolding tragedy: the pandemic.
“I am not going to be news today, I am not going to talk about anything other than September 11,” Biden told reporters. “There will be no propaganda from us today. It is a solemn day and so we will observe it, okay? ” The Trump campaign did not make a similar promise, stressing that Biden’s ads kept popping up.
Trump delivered a patriotic speech in Shanksville with the story of Flight 93, which authorities said was heading toward Washington until the passengers in unison overpowered the hijackers mid-flight.
“The heroes of Flight 93 are an everlasting reminder that whatever the danger, whatever the threat, whatever the odds, Americans will always stand up to fight.” He expressed solidarity with the families of the victims by saying that “today every heart in the United States beats in unison with you.”
He mentioned how the country came together after the attacks, without mentioning the current divisions around the virus and other issues.
Along with first lady Melania Trump, he placed a wreath at the site and observed a minute of silence aboard the presidential plane at 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center 19 years ago.
Different was the scene at the ceremony in Manhattan, which did not include public officials. At one point reading the names of the dead, Biden saw a woman crying. Amanda Barreto, 27, lost her godmother and aunt in the attacks.
He said Biden came up to him and said “he knows what it means to lose someone. He told me to stand my ground. Besides, he is very sorry for my loss. He said he appreciated his words and would vote for him in November.
Maria Fisher, 90, lost her son in the attacks. He told her that he too had lost a son, alluding to the death of his son Beau, from cancer. “Pain never passes, does it?” He said and handed her a rose.
Almost 3,000 people were killed in the September 11, 2001, attacks on Shanksville, the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon.