U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden joined Americans in paying tribute to the nearly 3,000 people who were killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist airline attacks against the United States.
"Today, we pay tribute to their sacrifice, and we mourn deeply for the nearly 3,000 precious and beautiful souls who were taken from us on Sept. 11, 2001," Trump said. "To every 9/11 family all across this nation, the first lady and I come to this hallowed ground deeply aware that we cannot fill the void in your heart or erase the terrible sorrow of this day. We promise you the unwavering love, support and devotion of all Americans."
The president spoke early Friday during a ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where 40 passengers died. Former Vice President Biden attended the 9/11 Memorial & Museum's commemoration ceremony in New York. Biden was to pay respects to the victims in Shanksville later Friday.
In addition to attending the observances, the Democratic candidate said he would pay tribute to the victims by suspending campaign ads and other campaign activities for the day.
"I'm not going be making any news today," Biden said. "I'm not going to talk about anything other than 9/11. We took all our advertising down. It's a solemn day and that's how we're going to keep it."
At the 9/11 memorial observance in New York, Biden saw an elderly woman in a wheelchair holding a photo of her son who died in the attacks at age 43. Biden, who lost a son, Beau, to brain cancer, took the photo and said "it never goes away," words that the woman repeated.
Vice President Mike Pence also visited the 9/11 memorial observance in New York, which has a longstanding tradition of prohibiting politicians from speaking, although they can attend. Biden attended as vice president in 2010, as did Trump as a candidate in 2016.
Pence then attended the nearby Tunnel to Towers Foundation ceremony, where he and his wife, Karen, read Bible passages.
U.S. Senator and Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris also honored the victims and first responders. Speaking during a ceremony in Fairfax, Virginia, Harris said the attacks did not deter Americans from standing united in the face of tragedy and crisis.
"Let us remember that honoring them is also about reminding us who we are as Americans," Harris said. "Because in times of tragedy, in times of despair, in times of suffering and pain, we, by our very nature as who we are, stand together. We stand together."
This year"s observances were complicated by social distancing mandates due to the coronavirus health crisis and at a time of nationwide protests over police brutality and racial injustice.
Trump's and Biden's visits to Pennsylvania came just weeks before the November 3 presidential election. Pennsylvania, which Trump won by less than one percentage point in 2016, is a must-win state for both men. Most polls published on RealClearPolitics.com show Biden ahead in Pennsylvania by as many as 9 percentage points.
Nineteen years ago, passenger jets hijacked by followers of the Islamic extremist group, al-Qaida, plowed into New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon just south of Washington, while another crashed into a field in Shanksville.
Nearly 3,000 lives were lost in the attacks, the deadliest in America's history.