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Anniversary Biden

9/11 anniversary: Joe Biden meets victims’ families in Shanksville – Daily Mail

Joe Biden visited the Flight 93 National Memorial on Friday afternoon shortly after President Trump paid tribute to the victims of the 9/11 plane crash in Pennsylvania on the 19th anniversary of the terror attacks. 

Hours after attending a memorial service in New York City, Biden and wife Jill traveled to the memorial where the former vice president laid a wreath and greeted relatives of one of the slain crew members, First Officer LeRoy Homer.  

Wearing a mask and practicing social distancing, Biden greeted Homer’s family with elbow bumps before going on to meet another family of a victim, as well as a young bagpipe player, whom he asked about her college plans.

He spoke about his respect for the passengers on the flight that sacrificed themselves to help bring it down, and said sacrifices like theirs ‘mark the character of a country.’

‘This is a country that never, never, never, never, never, never gives up,’ Biden said.

Joe Biden and his wife Jill traveled to the Flight 93 National Memorial shortly after attending a 9/11 memorial ceremony in New York City, and Trump’s speech in Shanksville

Biden was seen laying a wreath under the name of one of the slain crew members, First Officer LeRoy Homer. The Democratic candidate pledged not to make any news during the day with the November 3 election now less than two months away

Biden and his wife, Jill, greeted Camal Wilson and Cheryl Homer-Wilson after laying a wreath in front of her brother, Leroy Homer’s name at the Wall of Names following a ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial

Unlike the president, Biden did not deliver a speech at the memorial. The presidential candidate spoke with relatives of victims who lost their lives in the attack

‘Don’t ever underestimate one of the marks of being an American is understanding there’s some things that are bigger and more important than yourself,’ he added. 

The former vice president also met with the family of flight attendant Loraine Bay. 

Biden then visited the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department, where he delivered a Bundt cake and pastries to a couple of firefighters.

About two dozen community members were gathered to see the former Vice President and his wife. 

Biden said that the last time he was there, he said he’d bring beer – and he came through, presenting two six packs to a group of firefighters there.

The volunteer fire department were among several rescue crews that responded to the site of the crash in a field in Shanksville 19 years ago. 

The Democratic candidate’s interactions with families on Friday appeared to show Biden edging back into his element, as a politician who thrives on personal interaction and expressing empathy with fellow Americans. 

Biden earlier attended the 9/11 Memorial & Museum’s annual commemoration at Ground Zero in New York, along with Vice President Mike Pence.  

Meanwhile, President Trump had traveled to the memorial site in Pennsylvania where he struck a somber tone as he paid tribute to the 40 passengers and crew killed aboard Flight 93.

Despite the election being less than two months away, Biden pledged not to make any news during the day and insisted that he would steer clear of politics on a national day of mourning.

Although the candidates and country were focused on the commemorations, the political significance of Trump and Biden’s visits to Shanksville is hard to ignore, with Pennsylvania being a crucial battleground state. 

Biden spoke with Flight 93 victim Loraine Bay’s family at the memorial. Earlier in the day the Bidens attended a remembrance ceremony at the September 11 National Memorial in New York City

Man of the people: Biden’s visit on Friday appeared to show him edging back into his element, as a politician who thrives on personal interaction and expressing empathy with fellow Americans

The former VP visited the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department, where he delivered a Bundt cake and pastries to a couple of firefighters

Biden said that the last time he was there, he said he’d bring beer – and he came through, presenting two six packs to a group of firefighters there

About two dozen community members were gathered to see the former Vice President and his wife

While Trump and Biden’s visit did not overlap, Pence and Biden’s did. In a rare moment of detente, Biden was seen approaching Pence after arriving at the New York City ceremony and tapping him on the shoulder to say hello. 

Wearing masks, the current and former vice president then shared an elbow bump – the popular COVID-era handshake replacement – as did Biden and second lady Karen Pence. 

Victims’ relatives gathered for split-screen remembrances, one at the September 11 memorial plaza at the World Trade Center and another on a nearby corner, set up by a separate organization. 

The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation objected to the memorial’s decision to forgo a longstanding tradition of having relatives read the names of the dead, often adding poignant tributes.  

Memorial leaders said they made the change as a coronavirus-safety precaution on the 19th anniversary of the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil. 

At the September 11 Memorial and Museum, mourners stood silently as they listened to a pre-recorded reading of the names – a plan that organizers felt would avoid close contact at a stage but still allow families to remember their loved ones at the place where they died.

Earlier, Joe Biden greeted Vice President Mike Pence, as Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, far left, looks on at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum Friday morning

In New York City, Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden and wife Jill, stood alongside Governor Andrew Cuomo during a pre-recorded reading of the names ceremony on Friday

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation arranged its own, simultaneous ceremony a few blocks away, saying there was no reason that people couldn’t recite names while keeping a safe distance. 

Reverence for the dead ‘requires that we read these names out loud, in person, every year,’ said foundation chair Frank Siller, whose brother Stephen was a firefighter.

The readers stood at podiums that were wiped down between each person.

Biden offered condolences to a woman he spotted crying in the crowd of hundreds, Amanda Barreto, who lost her aunt and godmother in the attacks. 

Barreto, 27, said Biden ‘wanted to let me know to keep the faith’ and ‘wanted me to say strong,’ telling her he understood what it meant to lose a loved one. His first wife and their daughter died in a 1972 car crash, and his son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015.

Biden didn’t speak at the ceremony, which has a longstanding custom of not allowing politicians to make remarks.

He also told the reporters traveling with him what the day means to him: ‘It means I remember all my friends that I lost.’

‘It takes a lot of courage for someone that lost someone to come back today,’ Biden continued. ‘I know from experience, losing my wife, my daughter, my son, you relive it, the moment as if it’s happening. It’s hard.

The president paid tribute to the 40 Americans who died on United Flight 93 when they brought down the plane in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania before al-Qaeda hijackers could reach Washington 

 U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump stood together during a ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial, remembering those killed when the hijacked flight crashed into an open field on September 11, 2001

Just outside Shanksville is the 2,200-acre Flight 93 National Memorial Park, which marks the spot where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field on September 11, 2001, killing all 40 civilians and four al-Qaeda hijackers on board

‘It’s a wonderful memorial, but it’s hard. It just brings you back to the moment it happened, no matter how long, how much time passes. So I admire the families who come.’ 

Meanwhile, Pence went on to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation ceremony, where he read the Bible’s 23rd Psalm, and his wife, Karen, read a passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes.

‘For the families of the lost and friends they left behind, I pray these ancient words will comfort your heart and others,’ said the vice president, drawing applause from the crowd of hundreds. 

In a sobering and patriotic speech at the national memorial in Pennsylvania, Trump praised the ’40 towering patriots’ who he said ‘took charge and changed the course of history forever’ as al Qaeda hijackers were flying the plane toward Washington.

‘The heroes of Flight 93 are an everlasting reminder that no matter the danger, no matter the threat, no matter the odds, America will always rise up, stand tall, and fight back,’ the president said.

‘The only thing that stood between the enemy and a deadly strike at the heart of American democracy was the courage and resolve of 40 men and women.’

‘Our sacred task, our righteous duty, and our solemn pledge, is to carry forward the noble legacy of the brave souls who gave their lives for us 19 years ago,’ he said.

‘In their memory, we resolve to stand united as one American nation, to defend our freedoms – to uphold our values – to love our neighbors – to cherish our country – to care for our communities – to honor our heroes – and to never forget.’

After he spoke, he and first lady Melania Trump laid a wreath at the Flight 93 Memorial, which contains the names of those who died. A bag piper played ‘Amazing Grace.’

During his remarks, the president also paid tribute to the members of the military that lost their lives in the wake of the terrorists attacks.

Just outside Shanksville is the 2,200-acre Flight 93 National Memorial Park, which marks the spot where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field on September 11, 2001, killing all 40 civilians and four al-Qaeda hijackers on board

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump pause for a moment of silence on Air Force One

‘More than 7,000 Military Heroes have laid down their lives since 9/11 to preserve our freedom,’ Trump said. 

‘No words can express the summit of their glory or the infinite depth of our gratitude. But we will strive every single day to repay our immeasurable debt and prove worthy of their supreme sacrifice.’

Trump also offered words to the unit the country on its day of mourning.

‘We were united by our conviction that America was the world’s most exceptional country, blessed with the most incredible heroes, and that this was a land worth defending with our very last breath. It was a unity based on love for our families, care for our neighbors, loyalty to our fellow citizens, pride in our flag, gratitude for our police and first responders, faith in God – and a refusal to bend our will to the depraved forces of violence, intimidation, oppression and evil,’ he said. 

‘When terrorists raced to destroy the seat of our democracy, the 40 of flight 93 did the most American of things, they took a vote and then they acted,’ Trump added. 

Trump’s visit kicked off a day of memorial services expected to take place at the memorial sites of the 9/11 attacks in Pennsylvania, New York City and at the Pentagon in Washington, as well as across the country. 

Earlier, the president and first lady Melania Trump also observed a moment of silence aboard Air Force One at 8.46am, marking the time the first plane hit the World Trade Center 19 years ago. 

In short, the anniversary of 9/11 is a complicated occasion in a maelstrom of a year, as the U.S. grapples with a health crisis, searches its soul over racial injustice and prepares to choose a leader to chart a path forward.

Still, families say it’s important for the nation to pause and remember the hijacked-plane attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at the trade center, at the Pentagon in Washington and near Shanksville on September 11, 2001 – shaping American policy, perceptions of safety and daily life in places from airports to office buildings.

Around the country, some communities canceled 9/11 commemorations because of the pandemic, while others went ahead, sometimes with modifications.

The Pentagon’s observance was so restricted that not even victims families could attend, though small groups can visit the memorial there later in the day. 

The National Park Service, which co-hosts the annual Flight 93 memorial event in Pennsylvania, had originally said it was planning an abbreviated ceremony this year to minimize the spread of the coronavirus, with no keynote speaker or musical guests.

But after Biden and then the White House announced their plans to visit, the agency’s website was updated to reflect a new schedule that included remarks from Trump and the secretary of the interior.

None of the appearances featured prominent political showmanship, though the ceremonies were closely followed by the media and gave the candidates what political scientist Robert Shapiro dubbed a chance to ‘show their leadership and empathy.’

The choice of Trump and Biden to both head to Pennsylvania, a vital election battleground state, illustrates the ‘obvious calculations’ their advisors have made, the Columbia University scholar said.

In 2016, the 9/11 memorial events became a flashpoint in the presidential campaign after then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton abruptly left the Ground Zero ceremony and was seen stumbling as she tried to get into a van. 

Trump, who spoke repeatedly of that during the campaign, also spent the day in New York and paid his own visit to the memorial in Lower Manhattan.

Friday was Trump’s second time observing the anniversary in Shanksville, where he made remarks in 2018. Biden spoke at the memorial’s dedication in 2011, when he was vice president.

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Anniversary Hiroshima

Hiroshima 75th Anniversary: Preserving Survivors’ Message of Peace – The New York Times

Hibakusha, as they are known in Japan, were a diminished presence at a memorial event because of advancing age and the coronavirus.

Credit…Philip Fong/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

TOKYO — The hibakusha, as the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known in Japan, have achieved a powerful feat of alchemy, transforming their nightmarish memories of the blasts and their aftermath into a visceral force for promoting a world free of nuclear arms.

Each year for over half a century, many of them have gathered in the early hours of Aug. 6 at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to mourn the city’s destruction by the American military during World War II, and to serve as a living testament to the abiding dangers of the bomb.

But on Thursday, as Hiroshima marked the 75th anniversary of the nuclear assault, the hibakusha were a diminished presence, a victim of the twin forces of the coronavirus pandemic and advancing age.

“There were people who questioned whether it was OK for hibakusha to participate in the ceremony in the midst of the pandemic,” said Kunihiko Sakuma, chair of the Hiroshima branch of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers’ Organizations.

Despite the health risks, a relatively small number of survivors attended this year. They believed that “they’ve come this far” and “can’t quit,” Mr. Sakuma said, adding that “sending this message from Hiroshima is extremely important.”

City officials and peace activists had envisioned a series of grand events to commemorate what will most likely be the last major anniversary of the bombing for almost all of the hibakusha (pronounced hee-bak-sha) still living.

Image

Credit…Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

But the coronavirus forced them to curtail the events, moving conferences on nuclear disarmament online, canceling or postponing related meetings and reducing the number of attendees to around 800, one-tenth of the turnout during a normal year.

In remarks at the ceremony, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan delivered a cautious statement in which he vowed to gradually work toward the elimination of nuclear weapons.

“As the only country to have experienced nuclear devastation in the world, this is our unchanging mission to step by step and steadily advance the efforts by the international community for a world free from nuclear weapons,” he said. He added that nuclear and non-nuclear states should pursue “common ground” to address severe security challenges.

Japan, whose security rests on the nuclear-armed United States, has not signed a United Nations treaty calling for the elimination of nuclear arms. Some disarmament advocates had expressed opposition to Mr. Abe’s participation in the ceremony, citing his stance on the treaty and his unpopular efforts to change the country’s pacifist Constitution.

The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, who was not able to travel to the event because of the virus and delivered remarks by video, issued a stern warning about the dangers the world faced as international arms-control regimes began to break down.

“Today a world without nuclear weapons seems to be slipping further from our grasp,” he said, adding that “division, distrust and lack of dialogue threaten to return the world to unrestrained nuclear strategic competition.”

Cognizant of the declining population of survivors of the two atomic bombings, which now stands at about 136,000, the Hiroshima government decided to focus this year’s remembrance on mourning the dead and honoring the experience of those who remain.

Image

Credit…Philip Fong/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The memories of the hibakusha, who now average 83 in age, are an increasingly precious resource. As their numbers fall, they and their supporters are being forced to envision what the disarmament movement will look like without the people who have put a human face on the cost of nuclear war.

Mr. Sakuma said he hoped that the survivors’ children and their children’s children would carry on the fight as long as it took.

“The hibakusha can’t avoid the fact that our numbers are decreasing,” he said. “Each year a few thousand more disappear. Who knows how many years we have left?”

Scarred physically and mentally by the tremendous power unleashed by the splitting of atoms over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the hibakusha have become a rallying point for peace activists the world over, as well as the moral ballast of Japan’s postwar pacifism.

Survivors have spent measureless time and energy campaigning for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. From welcoming visitors into their homes in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to lecturing on cruise ships, they have shared their message of peace with audiences at home and abroad, including with the world’s political and religious leaders.

For both policymakers and the public, hearing survivors’ firsthand experiences of bombings that killed more than 200,000 people has been “really important on a personal level,” said Sharon Squassoni, director of the global security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “It’s really easy for these issues to become abstract because these weapons haven’t been used in 75 years.”

When survivors’ organizations first began to be politically active in the 1950s, they had two goals: to demand compensation and financial support from the Japanese government, and to push for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

They have been largely successful on the first front, although some compensation claims are still wending their way through the country’s courts.

Image

Credit…Dai Kurokawa/EPA, via Shutterstock

But after years of optimism fed by signs of progress, most survivors now say that a world free of nuclear weapons is a distant dream. That bleak outlook reflects a general feeling in the arms-control community that the world is giving up hard-won gains.

The number of nuclear warheads has dropped from a peak of around 70,000 in the mid-1980s to about 13,000 today. But in the past 25 years, India, Pakistan and North Korea have established themselves as nuclear states, China has expanded its modest arsenal and, most important, the United States and Russia — far and away the largest nuclear powers — have begun extricating themselves from treaties that have bound them since the end of the Cold War.

Those trends, however, have only steeled the survivors’ resolve to fight. In 2017, their efforts were rewarded with passage in the United Nations General Assembly of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The treaty’s future is uncertain. It has been ratified by only 40 of the 50 countries required to bring it into effect. And it is unlikely to ever gain support from the nuclear-armed states or from countries, like Japan itself, that are under the aegis of the American arsenal.

For the hibakusha, though, the treaty is a validation. The survivors had long believed that “no one was listening to them,” said Kazumi Mizumoto, an expert on security studies and nuclear disarmament at Hiroshima City University. But the treaty’s passage “reaffirmed their existence,” he said.

Image

Credit…Dai Kurokawa/EPA, via Shutterstock

Still, that existence is facing the inevitable toll of time. As the ranks of hibakusha shrink, their lobbying groups have begun to fall on hard times. One disbanded in June 2019, citing the difficulties of continuing with an aging leadership.

“We’re coming to the point where we have to think about how our organizations can continue forward. The situation is tough,” said Koichiro Maeda, 71, a former director of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the current head of the secretariat of one of the survivors’ groups.

It is more important than ever to ensure that the survivors’ legacy is carried on, said Maika Nakao, a professor of history at Nagasaki University who studies Japan’s relationship with nuclear weapons.

In addition to their role on the international stage, the survivors, and their stories, are an integral part of Japan’s national identity, serving as the country’s conscience in an era when the reasons for adhering to principles of peace have become more and more abstract.

“We have to think about how to acknowledge the history, how to memorialize it and how to pass it down to the future generations,” Professor Nakao said.

“We have a lot of testimonies, but it’s not enough. There is no perfect condition. No matter how much you ask, no matter how much you collect, it’s never enough. It’s important to document everything,” she said.

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Anniversary happy

Happy anniversary, Curiosity! NASA rover marks 8 years on Mars – Space.com

A self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover taken on June 15, 2src18. A Martian dust storm had reduced sunlight and visibility at the rover's location in Gale Crater at the time.

A self-portrait of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover taken on June 15, 2018. A Martian dust storm had reduced sunlight and visibility at the rover’s location in Gale Crater at the time.

(Image: © NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA would be thrilled if its newly launched Mars rover ended up matching its predecessor’s longevity.

The agency’s car-sized Curiosity rover celebrates eight (Earth) years on the Red Planet today (Aug. 5), less than a week after the Perseverance rover took flight toward Mars

The synergy in timing is appropriate; Perseverance shares Curiosity’s chassis and “sky crane” landing strategy, among other features. And the new rover will build upon the many discoveries that Curiosity has made over the years.

Related: Amazing Mars photos by NASA’s Curiosity rover (latest images) 

Curiosity launched in November 2011 and touched down inside the 96-mile-wide (154 kilometers) Gale Crater on the night of Aug. 5, 2012, kicking off a surface mission designed to last at least one Martian year (which is equivalent to 687 Earth days).

The main goal of Curiosity’s $2.5 billion mission, officially known as Mars Science Laboratory, involves assessing whether Gale could ever have supported Earth-like life. The nuclear-powered robot has returned exciting news on this front, finding that the crater hosted a potentially habitable lake-and-stream system for long stretches in the ancient past, perhaps millions of years at a time.

Curiosity has also detected complex organic chemicals, the building blocks of life as know it, in Gale Crater rocks. In addition, the rover has rolled through several plumes of methane and discovered a seasonal pattern in the concentration of this gas, which here on Earth is primarily produced by living organisms. (Abiotic processes can generate methane as well, however, and the source of the stuff within Gale is unclear.)

In September 2014, Curiosity reached the base of Mount Sharp, which rises 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometers) into the sky from Gale’s center. For the past six years, the rover has been climbing through the mountain’s foothills, reading the rocks for clues about Gale’s past habitable environments and how Mars transitioned into the cold, dry desert planet we know today.

During its eight years on Mars, Curiosity has drilled 27 rock samples, scooped up six soil samples and put more than 14 miles (23 km) on its odometer, NASA officials said. (The Mars surface-distance record is held by another NASA rover, Opportunity, which covered 28.06 miles, or 45.16 km, between 2004 and 2018.)

Perseverance’s $2.7 billion mission, called Mars 2020, aims to extend Curiosity’s findings. The new rover will hunt for signs of ancient life in Mars’ 28-mile-wide (45 km) Jezero Crater, which was home to a lake and a river delta long ago. 

Perseverance will also collect and cache samples for future return to Earth and test out several new exploration technologies, including a tiny helicopter named Ingenuity and an instrument that generates oxygen from the thin, carbon dioxide-dominated Martian atmosphere.

Mars 2020 is scheduled to touch down on Feb. 18, 2021. Maybe Curiosity will take a short break from its work in Gale Crater that day, look up at the Martian sky, and send well wishes to the new arrival.

Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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