President Biden is taking heat from some families of 9/11 victims for departing from tradition and becoming the first U.S. president in 22 years to neither spend the day at an attack site nor the White House.
“It’s no surprise to me that he’s not coming to Ground Zero or any of the 9/11 sites,” Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Donald Arias, who lost his brother Adam during the attacks, told “Fox & Friends First” Monday.
“And quite frankly, I prefer he stay away anyway. We will be spared one of his stories of how he can relate, like he did with the people of Lahaina, how he can relate because of a kitchen fire. We can do without that.”
Biden, who is returning to Washington, D.C., following a trip overseas to India and Vietnam, is set to speak later today at a ceremony at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, while Vice President Kamala Harris is among the elected officials attending events at the National September 11 Memorial in New York City.
“[President Biden] plans to honor the lives lost and the families of loved ones who still feel the pain of the terrible day,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
“This is something he feels is very important to do. We can only imagine the heartbreak and pain that the 9/11 families have felt every day for the past 22 years.”
Terry Strada, who lost her husband Tom at the World Trade Center, criticized Biden’s decision as “the opposite of what we’ve all pledged to never forget.”
“He is now just saying that flippantly that he doesn’t have to come to any of the sites and commemorate the loss with the families. That’s terrible,” she continued.
Strada serves as chair of 9/11 Families United, a coalition of families and survivors of the terrorist attack that shook the nation. Together, they call for full transparency surrounding the events of that day while keeping the memory of its victims alive.
Matt Bocchi, the son of 9/11 victim John Bocchi, called the departure from tradition evidence of the “unfortunate reality” about the country’s climate 22 years later.
“If our leader is so willing to not show up to the memorial service, it’s showing the message that Americans have forgotten and that it’s OK to forget. Unfortunately for myself and for all the other families and those joining with us this morning, we have no way of forgetting,” he said Monday.
“This is something that forever changed our lives and this is something that we’re going to live with forever, even if the rest of the country can let this be a day that they do forget.”
The 9/11 attacks carried out by al Qaeda terrorists under the thumb of Usama bin Laden claimed the lives of 2,977 victims and changed the national security and foreign policy landscape for decades to come.