Vice President Joe Biden drew on tragedy in his own life as he shared in the grief of families of victims of Flight 93 on Tuesday, offering his hope on the 11th anniversary of 9/11 that each passing year brings them additional comfort.
Biden lost his wife and infant daughter in a car accident, which also seriously injured his two young sons, just weeks after he was first elected to the Senate 40 years ago. He said at a Tuesday gathering in Shanksville, Pa., that he understood that “no matter how many anniversaries you experience, for at least an instant, the terror of that moment returns,” and how it can feel “like you’re being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest.”
Those who perished on the hijacked airliner, which crashed in the rural area after a passenger revolt against terrorists who had taken control, live on in their memory and in their family, regardless of the day, Biden told the relatives.
“My hope for you all is that as every year passes, the depth of your pain recedes and you find comfort, as I have, genuine comfort in recalling his smile, her laugh, their touch,” he said. “I know you see your wife every time you see her smile on your child’s face. You remember your daughter every time you hear laughter coming from her brother’s lips. And you remember your husband every time your son just touches your hand.”
The emotional tribute recalled Biden’s intensely personal remarks in an address just before Memorial Day to families of fallen soldiers, when he shared for the first time that he “understood how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide” while in the depths of grief.
After leaving the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Biden stopped at the town’s volunteer fire department. Such locales have become favorite stops for the vice president, and he appeared to have let his guard down as he promised to invite the first responders to his residence in Washington.
“He’s going to call you, no bullshit,” Biden told one firefighter, referring to an aide who would arrange the visit.
Realizing a group of reporters was within earshot, Biden revised his remarks.
“This is no malarkey. You come to the White House. I’ll buy you a beer,” he said.