Remarks by the First Lady at the September 11 Observance, Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania

September 11, 2022

[As prepared for delivery.]

Thank you, Secretary Haaland. Deb, when you talk about your work, we can hear how much of your heart is in it. Joe and I are so grateful for your leadership.

Captain Brown, Commanding Officer of the USS Somerset, Director Sams, Superintendent Clark, Congressman Joyce, and all of the leaders here, thank you for welcoming us today.

Also with us is Keturah Johnson, International Vice President of the Association of Flight Attendants.

I know that the last few years have been challenging for your members, facing unkind and even violent passengers. But to those flight attendants, I want you to know that Americans see your dedication and we are grateful for it. Keturah, thank you for your leadership of the AFA.

With the prayer and the choir, this has been such a beautiful and meaningful remembrance.

Most of all, I want to thank the families of the crew and passengers of Flight 93 for sharing your love and memories today. I'm deeply honored to be with you all.

When we remember the events of this day 21 years ago, certain images are seared into our collective memory. Yet even as we shared our grief, that moment affected us all in unique ways.

Looking back, we remember the details like a slide under a microscope—the private memories that draw a deep, definite line between "before" and "after."

For me, as shock settled into sorrow, after I talked with Joe and our kids, I thought of my sister, Bonny, who is with me today. She was—and continues to be—a flight attendant with United Airlines. It's a job that she has loved for many years and I knew that the weight of this tragedy would be heavier for her. When I got to her house, I realized that I was right. She hadn't just lost colleagues; she had lost friends.

But I know that, as we learned more about that dark day, she felt pride for what happened here as well—pride that it was fellow flight attendants and the passengers of United Flight 93 who fought back, who helped stop the plane from taking an untold number of lives in our nation's capital.

You have stories too. Of that moment. Of that day. Of how its legacy has rippled through your lives.

You have stories of loss—of last phone calls and waiting for news that you didn't want to receive. Of hands you will never hold again and voices you can only long to hear.

You have stories of pride—of the heroes who stood up to terror despite the danger.

Of the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department who first answered a call they couldn't have prepared for and continued that work, day in and day out.

Of a generation of women and men who put on our nation's uniform and became a part of something bigger than themselves—and the families who served alongside them.

You have stories of hope—of the humanity that shined through the inhumanity that day.

Of the generosity of the people here in Somerset County, who donated what they could to state and federal law enforcement and welcomed mourners with care and consideration to their hometown.

Of the love that lives beyond grief, that is undimmed by the passing of time.

9/11 touched us all—it changed us all. But it reminded us that with courage and kindness we can be a light in that darkness. It showed us that we are all connected to one another.

So as we stand on this sacred and scarred earth—a record of our collective grief and a monument to the memories that live on in each of us—this is the legacy we must carry forward:

Hope that defies hate.

Love that defies loss.

And the ties that hold us together through it all.

Thank you.

Jill Biden, Remarks by the First Lady at the September 11 Observance, Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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