Comforting families, warning foes: Biden, Trump mark 9/11

President Donald Trump lays a wreath at a 19th anniversary observance of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Donald Trump lays a wreath at a 19th anniversary observance of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Credit: Alex Brandon

Credit: Alex Brandon

President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden marked the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks at memorials Friday, and their differences in style were sharply on display

SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — One spent time quietly consoling families.

The other proclaimed America’s might.

President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, Joe Biden marked the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on Friday at memorial services where their differences in style couldn’t have been more sharply on display.

As Biden approached those who’d lost loved ones at Ground Zero and shared the pain of his own losses, Trump vowed that “America will always rise up, stand tall and fight back,” speaking at the Shanksville, Pennsylvania, site where hijacked Flight 93 crashed after passengers rushed the cockpit.

Biden also visited Shanksville later in the day, laying a wreath at the memorial and meeting with families, but the two did not cross paths. And while Americans were focused on the commemorations, the political significance of the visits to Shanksville was hard to ignore: Pennsylvania is a crucial battleground state in the 2020 election. Trump won there by less than 1 percentage point four years ago, and Democrats hope they can return it to their column this year.

Biden insisted that he would steer clear of politics on a national day of mourning taking place in the midst of another unfolding tragedy, the pandemic.

“I’m not gonna make any news today. I’m not gonna talk about anything other than 9/11,” Biden told reporters. “We took all our advertising down, It’s a solemn day, and that’s how we’re going to keep it, OK?” The Trump campaign did not follow suit, in a break with tradition, and was quick to point out Biden ads that were still running Friday.

Biden's campaign said that any airings had been inadvertent and that they were reaching out to affiliate stations for an explanation and to remedy.

In Shanksville, Trump shared the story of Flight 93, which officials say had been headed for Washington, D.C. until passengers teamed up against the hijackers, memorably declaring “let’s roll” as they took them on mid-flight.

“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,” Trump said as he voiced empathy for the families of the victims, singing out several by name and telling them their pain “is the shared grief of our whole nation."

Trump also noted that the country had come together after 9/11, which was a striking contrast to the stark divisions on display today as the nation grapples with the pandemic, economic turmoil and a reckoning over race and police violence.

“It was a unity based on love for our families, care for our neighbors, loyalty to our fellow citizens, pride in our great flag, gratitude for our police and first responders, faith in God and a refusal to bend our will to the depraved forces of violence, intimidation, oppression and evil," Trump said.

It was a different scene in Lower Manhattan as Biden attended the 9/11 Memorial & Museum’s annual commemoration at Ground Zero, along with Vice President Mike Pence.

In a rare moment of detente in a vitriolic campaign, Biden approached Pence after arriving and tapped him on the shoulder to say hello. The current and former vice presidents then shared an elbow bump — the popular COVID-era handshake replacement — as did Biden and Karen Pence.

Biden's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, spoke at a memorial ceremony in Northern Virginia, a few miles from the Pentagon where terrorists crashed yet another plane on Sept. 11, 2001.

While public officials were not part of the official program in New York, Biden spent time at the ceremony consoling families in attendance. At one point, as the names of victims were being read, he spotted a woman crying in the crowd. Amanda Barreto, 27, of Teaneck, New Jersey, lost her godmother and aunt in the 9/11 attacks.

She said Biden “wanted to let me know to keep the faith.” He told her “he knows what it means to lose someone. He wanted me to stay strong. And he’s so sorry for my loss.” She said she appreciated his comments and would be voting for him this fall.

Biden also spotted 90-year-old Maria Fisher, who lost her son in the attacks. He told her he, too, had lost a son, a reference to his son Beau’s death from cancer. “It never goes away, does it?” he lamented, and handed her a rose.

“It takes a lot of courage for someone that lost someone to come back today,” Biden later told The Associated Press. “I know from experience, losing my wife, my daughter, my son, you relive it, the moment as if it’s happening. It’s hard. ... So I admire the families who come.”

In Shanksville later Friday, Biden laid a wreath at the memorial and greeted the families of several victims, voicing respect for the sacrifices they'd made. He then paid a visit to the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department, delivering a Bundt cake, pastries and refreshments. Biden said the last time he'd visited, he'd promised to bring beer — and he came through, presenting two six-packs to a group of firefighters, to cheers.

The National Park Service, which co-hosts the annual Flight 93 memorial event in Pennsylvania, had originally said it was planning an abbreviated ceremony this year with no speakers to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. But after Biden and then the White House announced their plans to visit, the agency’s website was updated to reflect a new schedule that included remarks from Trump.

In 2016, the 9/11 memorial events became a flashpoint in the presidential campaign after then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton abruptly left the Ground Zero ceremony and was seen stumbling as she tried to get into a van. Trump, who spoke repeatedly of that during the campaign, also spent the day in New York and paid his own visit to the memorial in Lower Manhattan.

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Jaffe reported from New York and Colvin from Washington. Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.

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Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks with family members of victims of Flight 93 during a visit to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks with family members of victims of Flight 93 during a visit to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Credit: Patrick Semansky

Credit: Patrick Semansky

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, center, greets Vice President Mike Pence, right, as Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, far left, looks on at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in New York. Americans will commemorate 9/11 with tributes that have been altered by coronavirus precautions and woven into the presidential campaign. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, center, greets Vice President Mike Pence, right, as Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, far left, looks on at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in New York. Americans will commemorate 9/11 with tributes that have been altered by coronavirus precautions and woven into the presidential campaign. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Credit: John Minchillo

Credit: John Minchillo

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk with Ed Root and his wife Nancy to lay a wreath at a 19th anniversary observance of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Ed Root's cousin was flight attendant Lorraine Bay. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk with Ed Root and his wife Nancy to lay a wreath at a 19th anniversary observance of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Ed Root's cousin was flight attendant Lorraine Bay. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Credit: Alex Brandon

Credit: Alex Brandon

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump pause for a moment of silence on Air Force One as he arrives at the airport in Johnstown, Pa., on his way to speak at the Flight 93 National Memorial, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in Shanksville, Pa. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump pause for a moment of silence on Air Force One as he arrives at the airport in Johnstown, Pa., on his way to speak at the Flight 93 National Memorial, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in Shanksville, Pa. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Credit: Alex Brandon

Credit: Alex Brandon

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden visits the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Biden and his wife Jill Biden stopped by after visiting the nearby Flight 93 National Memorial to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden visits the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Biden and his wife Jill Biden stopped by after visiting the nearby Flight 93 National Memorial to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Credit: Patrick Semansky

Credit: Patrick Semansky

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden prepare to lay a wreath at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden prepare to lay a wreath at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Credit: Patrick Semansky

Credit: Patrick Semansky

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., center, speaks with Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Fire Chief John Butler, right, next to her husband, Douglas Emhoff, at left, after attending the Fairfax 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in Fairfax Va., held at the Fairfax County Public Safety Headquarters. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., center, speaks with Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Fire Chief John Butler, right, next to her husband, Douglas Emhoff, at left, after attending the Fairfax 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in Fairfax Va., held at the Fairfax County Public Safety Headquarters. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Credit: Jacquelyn Martin

Credit: Jacquelyn Martin

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, center, visits with Pat White, left, his son Joey and wife Dawn, right, after laying a wreath at the Wall of Names, at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. The Bidens visited to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Mr. White's cousin was a passenger on Flight 93. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, center, visits with Pat White, left, his son Joey and wife Dawn, right, after laying a wreath at the Wall of Names, at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. The Bidens visited to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Mr. White's cousin was a passenger on Flight 93. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Credit: Gene J. Puskar

Credit: Gene J. Puskar

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks with Calvin Wilson, from left, Camal Wilson and Cheryl Homer-Wilson, family members of Flight 93 First Officer LeRoy Homer, during a visit to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks with Calvin Wilson, from left, Camal Wilson and Cheryl Homer-Wilson, family members of Flight 93 First Officer LeRoy Homer, during a visit to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Credit: Patrick Semansky

Credit: Patrick Semansky

A flock of geese fly past an Osprey aircraft, part of the entourage of President Donald Trump as he arrives to speak at the Flight 93 National Memorial Service in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
A flock of geese fly past an Osprey aircraft, part of the entourage of President Donald Trump as he arrives to speak at the Flight 93 National Memorial Service in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Credit: Gene J. Puskar

Credit: Gene J. Puskar

Brad Rininger of Bedford, Pa., a supporter of President Donald Trump, and others look to Marine One, with the president aboard, as it flies overhead near the entrance of the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. President Donald Trump attuned the memorial service there. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Brad Rininger of Bedford, Pa., a supporter of President Donald Trump, and others look to Marine One, with the president aboard, as it flies overhead near the entrance of the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. President Donald Trump attuned the memorial service there. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Credit: Carolyn Kaster

Credit: Carolyn Kaster