Biden’s fearless message on the day America was attacked

As congressional leaders evacuated in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Biden remained on Capitol Hill and delivered a sharp televised address.

On September 11, 2001, like every other normal morning, Joe Biden, then a senator and chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sat on the train from his hometown of Wilmington to Washington, D.C. to work. .

The moment the second plane crashed into the World Trade Center tower in New York, Biden was on the phone with his wife. “Oh my God. Oh Jill, what happened? Another plane… another building,” Biden told his wife on the other end of the line.

As the train stopped at Union Station, Biden suddenly saw a plume of black smoke appear near Capitol Hill. That’s when the third commercial plane piloted by the hijackers crashed into the Pentagon.

Biden rushed to Capitol Hill, when it was in a hurry to evacuate. Biden’s daughter kept calling her father to quickly leave Washington, but he reassured her that Capitol Hill was the safest place, even as people feared another plane was approaching the building and the parliaments. The officer also withdrew to the evacuation helicopter.

“Damn it, let me in,” Biden told a police officer as he was stopped from entering Capitol Hill.

In his memoir, Keeping Promises: On Life and Politics, Biden said he wanted to enter the building to show his people and country that Capitol Hill was still working, as a way of doing things. reassure everyone.

ABC News reporter Linda Douglass, who was on Capitol Hill at the time, said Biden and Republican Senator John Warner discussed wanting to summon members of Congress back to work.

“He felt it was important for the government at the time to get back to work,” Douglass said.

Joe Biden as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee speaks to the media outside the US congressional police headquarters on September 11, 2001.  Photo: Congressional Quarterly.

Joe Biden, when he was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, speaks to the media outside the US congressional police headquarters on September 11, 2001. Photo: Congressional Quarterly.

Biden also accepted an interview with Douglass, walking towards ABC News with cameras set up. At the time, former President George W. Bush was on Air Force One, former Vice President Dick Cheney was in an underground bunker, and congressional leaders were also evacuated to safety.

“It was important for America at the time to hear from a senior leader in government,” Douglass said.

In an interview with ABC News, Biden said the US would find the perpetrators of the terrorist attack and reassure the people “to stay calm”.

“Terrorism only prevails when it changes our civil liberties or shuts down our institutions. We’ll prove it can’t happen,” Biden said.

Former congressman Bob Brady, a longtime friend of Biden, was with him most of the time on 9/11. Brady said that while driving the Bidens home at the end of the day, President Bush called from Air Force One to thank Biden for his televised remarks.

“It’s important to show the American people that we’re safe, all standing together at this time. Democrat or Republican, we will support the president with all our hearts. That’s the message Biden delivered and the reason the president called him,” Brady said.

Brady added that during the call with President Bush, Biden also urged him to return to Washington, D.C. soon.

“President, go back to Washington. You certainly don’t want people to see the leader of the country going into the bunker. Go back to the White House,” Brady recalled Biden’s phone call with Bush.

According to Biden’s memoirs, President Bush told him at the time that he was going to an undisclosed location in the Midwest because the intelligence community advised him not to return to the capital.

“At that time, I remembered a story about the leader of the French resistance Charles de Gaulle near the end of World War II. When France was liberated, Gaulle commanded officials, generals and soldiers to celebrate on the streets. The Champs-Elysees in Paris. As the procession approached the Hotel de Ville, shots were fired from above and everyone bowed to the ground except Gaulle. Memoir.

After trying to advise President Bush to return to the capital, Biden ended the conversation and hung up, sending silence over the car until his brother Jimmy spoke.

“Everybody thought the president was calling to fire you,” Biden said of his brother.

Ngoc Anh (Follow CNN)

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