WASHINGTON (Globe Live Media) — President Joe Biden marked the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by participating in a somber Pentagon wreath-laying ceremony in steady rain and paying tribute to the “extraordinary Americans” who gave their life in one of the nation’s darkest days.

Sunday’s ceremony came just over a year after Biden ended the long and costly war in Afghanistan that the United States and its allies launched in response to terror attacks.

Biden noted that even after the United States left Afghanistan, his administration continues to go after those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Last month, Biden announced that the United States had killed Ayman al-Zawahri, the al-Qaida leader who helped plan the 9/11 attacks, in a clandestine operation.

“We will never forget, we will never give up,” Biden said. “Our commitment to prevent another attack on the United States is endless.”

The president was joined by family members of the fallen, first responders who had been at the Pentagon the day of the attack, as well as Defense Department leaders for the annual tribute held in New York City, the Pentagon and Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

“We owe him an incredible, incredible debt,” Biden said.

By ending the war in Afghanistan, the Democratic president fulfilled a campaign promise to bring home US troops from the country’s longest conflict. But the war ended chaotically in August 2021, as the US-backed Afghan government collapsed, a horrific bombing raid killed 170 Afghans and 13 US soldiers at Kabul airport, and thousands of desperate Afghans gathered in hopes of escape. before the last American cargo planes left. the Hindu Kush.

Biden marked the first anniversary of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan late last month in low-key fashion. He issued a statement honoring the 13 US soldiers who died in the Kabul airport bombing and spoke by phone with US veterans assisting in ongoing efforts to resettle Afghan Americans who helped in the war effort.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday criticized Biden’s handling of the end of the war, noting that the country has spiraled under renewed Taliban rule since the US withdrawal.

“Now, a year after last August’s disaster, the devastating scale of the consequences of President Biden’s decision has become more apparent,” McConnell said. “Afghanistan has become a global pariah. Its economy has shrunk by nearly a third. Half of its population now suffers from critical levels of food insecurity.”

Biden has recently issued warnings about what he calls the “extreme ideology” of former President Donald Trump and his “MAGA Republican” adherents as a threat to American democracy. Without naming Trump, Biden again called on Americans on Sunday to safeguard democracy.

“It is not enough to defend democracy once a year or once in a while,” Biden said. “It’s something we have to do every day. So this is a day not only to remember, but also to renew and resolve for each and every American our devotion to this country, to the principles it embodies, to our democracy.”

First lady Jill Biden spoke Sunday at the Flight 93 National Memorial Observance in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband attended a remembrance ceremony at the National September 11th Memorial in New York.

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