WASHINGTON (AP) — When Jill Biden realized terrorists had attacked America on September 11, 2001, her husband, Joe, was not the only loved one whose safety concerned her.
Biden recalled being ‘scared to death’ that her sister Bonny Jacobs, a United Airlines flight attendant, was in one of four hijacked planes that flew to New York’s World Trade Center , the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, killing nearly 3,000 people.
After learning that her sister was safe at home in Pennsylvania, “I went straight to Bonny’s,” Biden told The Associated Press on Saturday as she and her sister reminisced about that day.
On Sunday, Jill Biden, now first lady, will mark the 21st anniversary of the September 11 attacks by delivering a speech at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, accompanied by Jacobs.
All 40 passengers and crew aboard this United Airlines flight fought back against their hijackers, thwarting a feared attack on the US Capitol in Washington.
“I called Bonny to see where she was because I was scared to death…I didn’t know where she was, if she was flying, not flying, where she was,” Jill Biden recalled. “And then I found out she was home.”
Biden had gone to teach her class at Delaware Technical Community College, then went straight to her sister’s house after the school closed.
Joe Biden, then a US senator, was on an Amtrak train bound for Washington when his wife joined him. They were on the phone when she shouted, “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God” after a plane slammed into the second tower of the World Trade Center.
Jacobs said she returned home around 2 a.m. on September 11 after a late flight. She slept a little, got up to help her children, then at 11 and 7 to go to school, turned off her phone and went back to bed.
“So when I woke up around noon, it was a beautiful day,” she said. “I had my coffee. I sat outside. I literally said out loud, ‘I’m not doing anything today, this day is beautiful.’ »
She saw the phone ring when she entered. Jill had left a message asking if she had watched television. She turned it on and watched replays of the World Trade Center attack.
“I started shaking,” Jacobs said, adding that she went upstairs to get dressed and “put my clothes inside out” and spent the rest of the day watching TV.
“And then the first person that came to the house was Jill,” she said. “I hadn’t called her to come, but she just showed up and was there for me as usual.”
Jacobs said she usually flies on the 9/11 anniversary to pay tribute to her fallen United Airlines colleagues and as a way to distract herself “because it’s so upsetting.” But she wanted to be with the first lady of Shanksville to offer the same kind of support that her big sister gave her.
“It’s such a special time to be with her,” Jacobs said. “She was there for me when it happened and she’s still there for me. She’s my rock. Everyone should have a rock in their life, and she’s mine.
“And it’s so special to share it with her as a flight attendant and to have her there, you know, to support us,” Jacobs said.
In addition to laying a wreath at the memorial and delivering a speech, the first lady joined members of the Flight Attendants Association-CWA to honor the crew members of Flight 93.
In her prepared remarks for Sunday, Jill Biden says that after the shock of 9/11 “settled in grief” and she had spoken with her husband and children, her thoughts turned to her sister, who continues to work as a flight attendant with United Airlines.
“It’s a job she’s loved for many years and I knew that the weight of this drama would be heavier for her,” says the first lady. “When I got to her house, I realized I was right. She hadn’t just lost colleagues. She had lost friends.
She adds: “But I know that as we learned more about that dark day, she was also proud of what happened here, proud that it was the other flight attendants and the passengers on the United Flight 93 who fought back, who helped stop the plane from taking countless lives in our nation’s capital.
Joe Biden, now president, was to commemorate the day at the Pentagon. Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, were to be at the New York Memorial.
September 11, then senator. Biden arrived in Washington to see smoke in the sky following the Pentagon crash. He wanted to go to the Senate floor, but the Capitol and the surrounding complex of offices and official buildings, including the Supreme Court, had been evacuated.
He was turned away by Capitol police, who said there was a risk the building was a target.
Jill Biden said dozens of lives were saved — including possibly her husband’s — thanks to the actions of everyone aboard United Airlines Flight 93.
“That plane was headed for the United States Capitol and so I think it’s important that every year we go to Shanksville and remember those who fought: the flight attendants, the captains, the pilots , everyone who fought to save those lives,” the first lady said in the interview.
She said her message on Sunday would be: ‘We will never forget. We will never forget.”
“There were so many things swirling around that day because I was worried about Joe’s safety, but I just couldn’t imagine my sister being on one of those flights,” the first said. lady.
“I don’t know what word I want to use. I was so worried and I don’t even think it’s strong enough,” she added.
Jacobs chimed in to say 9/11 was “surreal”.
Jill Biden added, “It was all so surreal, but I was just, you know, really praying that she wasn’t on one of those flights.”