President Trump marked the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with a moment of silence aboard Air Force One and delivered remarks hailing the men and women who died aboard Flight 93 in Pennsylvania 19 years ago.
The president traveled to Shanksville, Pa., to attend a scaled-back version of the annual Flight 93 memorial service there. While en route, Trump and his staff observed a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. to denote the time the first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center.
Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino were among those who stood around a table with heads bowed in the staff cabin of Air Force One. At the conclusion of the moment of silence, Meadows and Trump each said "God bless America."
The president offered lengthier remarks in Pennsylvania, where he hailed the men and women aboard Flight 93 as heroes and a symbol of American resolve.
"The heroes of Flight 93 are an everlasting reminder that no matter the danger, no matter the threat, no matter the odds, America will always rise up, stand tall and fight back," he said.
Nearly 3,000 people died on Sept. 11, 2001, including 40 people aboard United Flight 93. The plane had been hijacked and was believed to be headed to Washington, D.C. Passengers on board fought to take back control of the cockpit, and the aircraft crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.
Trump, reading from prepared remarks, recounted the individual stories of a handful of passengers on board.
"Every passenger and crew member on the plane had a life filled with love and joy, friends and family, radiant hopes and limitless dreams," he said.
"When terrorists raced to destroy the seat of our democracy, the 40 of Flight 93 did the most American of things: They took a vote, and then they acted," he continued. "Together, they charged the cockpit, they confronted pure evil, and in their last act on this earth, they saved our capital."
The president's remarks contained a few subtle political overtones. He noted that his administration carried out operations that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and his mention of those who have served since 9/11 coincided with an announced drawdown of troops in Iraq, though the U.S. maintains a presence there and in Afghanistan.
Friday marked the second time Trump has spent 9/11 in Shanksville. He last visited the Flight 93 memorial in 2018, and he delivered remarks at the Pentagon in 2019.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is expected to visit the Flight 93 memorial later Friday afternoon. Biden spent the morning in New York City for services there, where he crossed paths with Vice President Pence.