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White House explains Biden missing 9/11 memorial, but it backfired

 September 13, 2023

A statement from the White House on Monday regarding President Joe Biden's absence from the 9/11 commemoration at a key attack site seems to be off the mark, according to reports.

In response to a query about Biden's presence in Hanoi, Vietnam, during the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, the White House indicated that U.S. presidents hadn't traditionally visited Pearl Harbor twenty years after the incident occurred, as Fox News reported.

Network correspondent Peter Doocy conveyed the White House response to his question about Biden's absence, noting, "The analogy that I was given is that, 22 years after Pearl Harbor, U.S. presidents were not still going to Hawaii." 

However, the truth of the administration's statement is questionable.

JFK's Visit to Pearl Harbor 

A post dated Dec. 7, 2020, from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library's social media account revealed that President Kennedy indeed paid a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial in 1963. 

This visit occurred exactly 22 years following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

"Today the country marks the anniversary of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor," the presidential library's account wrote.

"In 1963, President Kennedy visited the USS Arizona Memorial and laid a wreath for those who perished in the surprise attack," the post read.

9/11 Commemoration Traditions of U.S. Presidents

Since 2001, most U.S. presidents have attended 9/11 memorials at sites like New York, the Pentagon, or Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama chose to commemorate one anniversary each from the White House.

Discrepancies in Biden's 9/11 Statements

This past Monday marked 22 years since the tragic events in New York City, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania, which resulted in the loss of 2,977 American lives. 

On his way back from Asia, Biden paid tribute to the attacks with a brief stopover in Alaska. On the same day, Biden asserted that he was at Ground Zero in New York following the 2001 terrorist strikes. However, available records indicate he was in Washington, D.C., at the time.

During his speech at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, Biden said, "Ground Zero in New York — I remember standing there the next day and looking at the building. I felt like I was looking through the gates of Hell, it looked so devastating because the way you could — from where you could stand."

Yet, records present a conflicting narrative. C-SPAN's documentation of Senate activities on Sept. 12, 2001, shows Biden to have been in the nation's capital. 

The then-senator gave an address in the upper chamber that morning, and records further indicate that all senators attended a classified briefing at 2:00 p.m. ET. Additionally, Biden was engaged in a joint resolution vote condemning the terrorist acts later that day. 

Moreover, his own memoirs also differ from his recent claim. Biden wrote that on Sept. 12, 2001, he "headed back to the Capitol," with no allusion to being at Ground Zero, the New York Post reported. 

A Gannett News Wire report from that day supports that statement of facts, noting: "Delaware Sen. Joe Biden spent Wednesday exactly where he wanted -- in the U.S. Senate."