President Joe Biden is making an appeal for the US to reclaim the spirit of co-operation that sprung up in the days following the 9/11 terror attacks as he commemorates those who died 20 years ago.
Mr Biden, who is marking his first anniversary of tragic day as commander in chief, was a senator when hijackers comandeered four planes and carried the nation’s worst terror attack in 2001.
The president planned to pay his respects at the trio of sites where the planes crashed, but he was leaving the speech-making to others.
Instead, the White House released a taped address late on Friday in which Mr Biden spoke of the “true sense of national unity” that emerged after the attacks, seen in “heroism everywhere — in places expected and unexpected”.
“To me that’s the central lesson of September 11,” he said, adding: “Unity is our greatest strength.”
Mr Biden arrived in New York on Friday night as the skyline was illuminated by the “Tribute in Light,” hauntingly marking where the towers once stood.
His first stop on Saturday was to be the National September 11 Memorial, where the twin towers of the World Trade Centre were toppled as a horrified world watched on television.
From there he was to visit the field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where a plane fell from the sky after heroic passengers fought terrorists to prevent it from reaching its Washington destination.
And finally, he was headed to the Pentagon, where the world’s mightiest military suffered an unthinkable blow to its very home.
Biden’s task, like his predecessors before him, was to mark the moment with a mix of grief and resolve.