Joe Biden, no stranger to immense tragedy striking at home, offered words of comfort to surviving family members today at the 9/11 memorial service in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, site of the September 11, 2001 crash of Flight 93.
While many surviving family members of such tragedies may feel politicians can’t fathom their suffering, Joe Biden is one that can empathize with the sudden and traumatic loss of family members, having lost his wife and baby daughter in a car crash in Delaware in 1972.
Biden’s 9/11 anniversary speech at the site of the crash in Shanksville was moving and seemed to speak to grief in its later stages. The sometimes ineloquent VP pulled off a difficult topic with aplomb and grace, even managing to express gratitude at the opportunity to speak while regretting the circumstances. Biden began:
“And it’s an honor — it’s a genuine honor to be back here today. But like all of the families, we wish we weren’t here. We wish we didn’t have to be here. We wish we didn’t have to commemorate any of this. And it’s a bittersweet moment for the entire nation, for all of the country, but particularly for those family members gathered here today.”
Biden acknowledged the weight of the day but that time passed, continuing:
” … no matter how many anniversaries you experience, for at least an instant, the terror of that moment returns; the lingering echo of that phone call; that sense of total disbelief that envelops you, where you feel like you’re being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest.”
Biden then said:
“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. And I hope you’re as certain as I am that she can see what a wonderful man her son has turned out to be, grown up to be; that he knows everything that your daughter has achieved, and that he can hear, and she can hear how her mom still talks about her, the day he scored the winning touchdown, how bright and beautiful she was on that graduation day, and know that he knows what a beautiful child the daughter he never got to see has turned out to be, and how much she reminds you of him.”
“For 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 … “
As he closed his speech, Biden quoted Yeats and said that he prayed for surviving loved ones that “every succeeding year, you’re able to sing more than you weep.” Were you moved by Vice-President Joe Biden’s 9/11 anniversary speech?