Biden: Americans 'owe it' to 9/11 victims to stand up for democracy

Biden marks 9/11 with fiery speech at Pentagon where he tells Americans they ‘owe it’ to terror attack victims to stand up for democracy – just days after he branded Trump supporters a threat

  •  Biden laid a wreath at the Pentagon to commemorate 9/11 terrorist attacks
  • He also delivered remarks telling Americans they ‘owe it’ to the victims of the attack to stand up for democracy 
  • Comes just 10 days after his speech where Republicans slammed him for calling Trump supporters a threat to American democracy 
  • Before departing Delaware for D.C. on Sunday, Biden told the press that ‘there is a plan’ for there to be justice for victims’ families 
  • Referencing those still in Guantanamo Bay prisons two decades later

Joe Biden reiterated his call for Americans to ‘stand up’ for democracy in a passionate speech from the Pentagon commemorating the 21st anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The president said that Americans ‘owe it’ to the victims of 9/11 to defend democracy. 

The president ended his weekend at his home in Delaware earlier than usual to come back to a rainy Washington, D.C. and lay a wreath at the Pentagon 9/11 memorial and deliver commemorative remarks. 

Biden arrived to downpour in the nation’s capital, holding a large black umbrella as he disembarked Air Force 1 and donning a raincoat before entering the presidential vehicle The Beast and motorcading to the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.

The president quoted the late Queen Elizabeth II during his speech just days after her death, saying in his remarks in the rain outside the Pentagon on Sunday: ‘Grief is a price we pay for love.’

‘It’s not enough to gather and remember each September 11th those we lost more than two decades ago,’ Biden said in his remarks. ‘Because on this day, it is not about the past, it’s about the future.’

‘We have an obligation, a duty, a responsibility to defend, preserve and protect our democracy,’ he continued. ‘The very democracy that defends the right to freedom that those terrorists on 9/11 sought to bury in the burning fire and smoke and ash. And that takes a commitment on the part of all of us.’

The comments come just 10 days after Biden delivered a speech from Philadelphia where he called former President Donald Trump and his supporters a threat to democracy. Since then, the president has tried to walk back those comments, claiming he does not feel that supporters of Trump are threats to the fabric of the nation.

Biden lays a wreath at the Pentagon to commemorate 9/11 terrorist attacks

During his remarks in the pouring rain on Sunday, Biden said that Americans ‘owe it’ to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to protect democracy 


Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley (left) and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (right) spoke at the Pentagon on Sunday before Biden’s remarks

The president arrived to a downpour as he departed his weekend at his home in Wilmington, Delaware earlier than usual to participate in a wreath laying and deliver remarks at the Pentagon on the 21st anniversary of the attacks

His remarks on Sunday were a redemption speech, insisting on American unity to reinforce the values of democracy.

‘American democracy depends on the habits of the heart of we the people,’ Biden said to an audience holding up black umbrellas to shield from the persisting rain. ‘It’s not enough to stand up for democracy once a year, or every now and then – something we have to do every single day.’ 

‘This is a day not only to remember, but a day of renewal and resolve for each and every American. And our devotion to this country – to the principles and the bodies – to our democracy – that is who we owe those remembered today,’ he continued. 

‘That is what we owe one another. And that is what we owe future generations of Americans to come.’

Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff participate in a commemoration ceremony at ground zero in New York City on Sunday

New York Representative Alexandira Ocasio-Cortez also attended the New York City ceremony


Spotted in New York:  DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (left) and former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (right) 

‘I have no doubt we will do this,’ the president wrapped up. ‘We will meet this significant responsibility. We’ll secure our democracy together – as one American, the United States of America.’

‘American democracy depends on the habits of the heart of we the people,’ Biden said to an audience holding up black umbrellas to shield from the downpour.

‘It’s not enough to stand up for democracy once a year, or every now and then – something we have to do every single day,’ the president added.

First lady Jill Biden spoke on Sunday in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where a hijacked plane crashed in a field after the passengers stopped terrorists from reaching their target. All 40 passengers and crew died, as well as the four hijackers.

Meanwhile, the vice president and second gentleman Doug Emhoff arrived in New York City Sunday morning to participate in a commemoration ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial Museum located at ground zero.

Also spotted at the somber event were Biden’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, among others. 

Before departing Delaware for D.C. on Sunday, Biden told the press traveling with him that ‘there is a plan’ for there to be justice brought to victims’ families as those responsible for the attacks still sit in Guantanamo Bay prisons two decades later.

The president put his hand over his heart during a moment of silence to remember the victims of the attack. A total of 184 people died at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, including all 64 people on the plane and another 125 people in the Pentagon that day

Before departing Delaware for D.C. on Sunday, Biden told the press traveling with him that ‘there is a plan’ for there to be justice brought to victims’ families as those responsible for the attacks still sit in Guantanamo Bay prisons two decades later

A total of 184 people died at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, including all 64 people on the plane and another 125 people in the Pentagon that day.

The grounds have an outdoor memorial, which includes a bench for each of the victims, as well as an indoor chapel to honor the lives lost. 

Joining Biden at the Pentagon on Sunday were members of his Defense Department team, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

The two delivered remarks in the rain before the president took stage.

Milley said the attacks on 9/11 were an attack on U.S. democracy and Austin thanked those who signed up for the military then and now to continue defending America.

‘Surrounding us today are 184 steel benches, each bearing the name of a person murdered in the attack on the Pentagon,’ Austin said. ‘And every night, 184 lights come on, lighting up their bench.’

Biden, while calling for unity during his speech Sunday, also made reference to the fact that Muslim and Middle Eastern Americans were singled out as potential threats for years following the attacks.

‘To me, that’s the greatest lesson of September 11th – not that we will never again face a setback, but that in a moment of great unity, we also had to face down the worst impulses,’ Biden said.

He claimed those ‘worst impulses’ were ‘fear, violence, recrimination directed against Muslim Americas, as well as Americans of Middle Eastern and South Asian heritage.’

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