This story has been updated with a new story: Biden calls for ‘national unity’ in Alaska speech on 9/11 anniversary
Update, 1 p.m.:
President Joe Biden on Monday led a memorial in Alaska on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, calling for unity and speaking directly to service members in the audience at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
”It’s more important than ever that we come together around the principle of American democracy, regardless of our political background,” he said. “We must not succumb to the poisonous politics of difference and division.”
Watch the president’s full remarks below:
Update, 12:20 p.m:
President Joe Biden arrived in Anchorage on Monday and was met by Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, where the president was scheduled to speak at a 9/11 memorial service.
Also in attendance at the Anchorage ceremony were Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Climate Envoy John Kerry, who traveled with the president on his just-concluded trip to Asia.
The ceremony was in a large hangar and attended by Alaska-based soldiers and airmen. It began with a land acknowledgement from the president of the Native Village of Eklutna, Aaron Leggett.
Speaking at the ceremony, Dunleavy said many Alaska-based service members had deployed overseas to fight the war on terror.
”We in Alaska are more than 3,000 miles away from the World Trade Center in New York,” Dunleavy said. “Yet parts of Alaska are just 2.4 miles away from one of our nearest neighbors, Russia. Servicemen and women here at JBER intercept Russian fighters on a regular basis....
”I urge the President and Congress to continue to recognize the strategic significance that Alaska plays in our national security,” Dunleavy said.
Introducing Biden, Alaska U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola remarked on what she said was the importance of oil development in Alaska for national security, days after Biden’s administration canceled oil leases on federal land.
”Alaska energy is one of our nation’s best defenses against foreign aggression. It’s why the National Petroleum Reserve of Alaska was created after World War I and why the Alaska pipeline was built in the 1970s to combat the Middle Eastern oil embargo,” Peltola said.
The ceremony drew many — mostly Democratic — state officials. Biden makes his first Alaska appearance amid sharp criticism from Alaska officials over his administration’s decision last month to revoke oil leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
President Joe Biden is expected to visit Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage starting midday Monday, marking his first official visit to the state and the first time a U.S. president attends a 9/11 memorial in the western U.S.
Biden will participate in a ceremony at the base commemorating those who died in the 2001 terrorist attacks, as he makes his way back from a world leaders summit in India and a visit to Vietnam. He is expected to be on the ground at JBER for about two hours.
Since 2001, U.S. presidents have typically participated in observances for the 2001 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at memorial sites in New York City, Virginia or Pennsylvania. But this is not the first time a president will mark the day elsewhere.
This will be Biden’s first visit to Alaska for an event during his presidency. Air Force One landed in Anchorage in May for a refueling stop.
The visit comes as Biden has faced sharp criticism from Alaska elected officials for his decision this month to cancel oil leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, the only Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation, is expected to join Biden during his JBER visit. Republican U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan will not join Biden in Alaska.
The office of Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican who has been sharply critical of Biden, did not immediately respond when asked whether the governor or members of his cabinet would join the president during his JBER stop.
Dunleavy and all three members of the congressional delegation criticized the Biden administration last week.
Sullivan said the administration’s policy moves are “a war on Alaska.” Murkowski said it would be “incredible to think that people are going to trust this administration on anything related to oil in Alaska again.” Peltola said she was “deeply frustrated” by the canceled oil leases.