Opening a solemn ceremony at Ground Zero, Mike Low, whose daughter, Sarah Elizabeth Low, was a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to hit the North Tower.
“It felt like an evil specter had descended on our world but it was also time when many people acted above and beyond the ordinary,” Low said.
Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden attended the ceremony for about an hour, but the president did not speak and instead issued a pre-recorded message on Friday. Joining them were former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Rudy Giuliani, who was mayor of New York on 9/11, also attended, speaking with the current mayor, Bill de Blasio.
Among the performers were Bruce Springsteen, who sang I’ll See You in My Dreams and Kelli O’Hara, who sang You’ll Never Walk Alone, and along with a piece from Randall Goosby and Zhu Wang. All of the cable networks carried a performance by Hamilton star Chris Jackson.
A bell was wrung to mark the moments when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center as well as when the towers fell, while much of the ceremony was devoted to the reading of the names of those who died on that day by family, who also shared their memories of their loved ones.
Coverage across the networks varied. CBS and ABC largely stayed with the reading of the names, including pictures in the bottom of the screen. Fox News ran a ticker of the names, while the network and other outlets cut in and out of the ceremonies while featuring pre-recorded and live interviews. In Washington, D.C., the local NBC affiliate WRC didn’t carry the network feed or the New York ceremony, instead going to its own local coverage, joining the network at 10 AM.
CNN’s Jake Tapper Breaks With Type, Chides Joe Biden’s ‘Scolding Tone’ In Network Segment
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was interviewed by Fox News’ Dana Perino, recounting then-President George W. Bush’s speech the night of 9/11, telling Perino that “he wanted it just to be about reassurance.” She also was interviewed on NBC to talk with Lester Holt, offering her memories of that terrible day 20 years ago, her remorse of the loss of “2,997 souls” on 9/11 and the current situation in Afghanistan. At the Pentagon ceremony, a bell was wrung to mark the time when the plane struck the complex.
“We the living have a solemn duty to honor their memory, their legacy, to honor and remember them not just today but every day,” said Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, of those who died on 9/11. “Their legacy lives on in the idea that is America,” the increasingly outspoken Chairman stated, calling out international terror groups like the now back in power Taliban and domestic Nazis. And no terrorist, anywhere on Earth, could ever destroy that idea.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made a distinct point of speaking to the frayed America of 2021 by emphasizing “our core values and the principles enshrined in our Constitution, liberty, rights, the rule of law and a fierce commitment to a government of the people by the people and for the people.”
In Shanksville, PA, where Flight 93 crashed amid a heroic struggle by passengers to prevent the plane from arriving at its intended target, former President George W. Bush and Vice President Kamala Harris were attending a ceremony, and the Bidens were due to arrive later in the morning. The president was then to travel back to the Washington, D.C. area to pay his respects at the Pentagon.