Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis met with families of Sept. 11 victims at the 911 Memorial in New York City on Monday as the country marked the 22nd anniversary of the deadly terrorist attacks.
The governor and First Lady Casey DeSantis were invited to the ceremony by seven families, his campaign said. During the commemoration, the DeSantises stood alongside the family members while wearing sky blue ribbons used to memorialize the attacks in New York.
“Today, Casey and I had the honor of joining with families who still bear the scars of the 9/11 terror attacks to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of that dark day,” DeSantis wrote in a statement to supporters. “We heard their heart-wrenching stories, the cherished memories of those they lost, and their strong commitment to never forgetting what happened on this hallowed ground twenty-two years ago. September 11, 2001, changed those families and our nation forever.”
DeSantis was the only 2024 Republican presidential contender to attend New York City’s 9/11 memorial ceremony. Vice President Kamala Harris was also at the commemoration, while President Joe Biden delivered remarks from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska after spending several days in Asia.
Former President Donald Trump, who’s considered the heavy favorite for the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination, was at his private golf club in Bedminster, N.J. on Monday. He released a video earlier in the day in which he commemorated “the 2,977 precious souls who were savagely taken from us on that morning 22 years ago.”
DeSantis, who has said he was moved by the terrorist attacks to join the Navy, didn’t deliver remarks during the ceremony. But in his statement on Monday afternoon, the governor called on the Biden administration to ensure that the attack’s alleged mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and other suspected terrorists be held accountable for their role in the plot. Mohammed is currently awaiting pre-trial proceedings, to be held at theNaval station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where DeSantis once served as a lawyer under the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate.
DeSantis also demanded the full declassification and release of remaining intelligence documents regarding the planning and financing of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and called on members of Congress to pass a now-stalled bill that would make it easier for victims’ families to bring legal action against foreign sponsors of terrorism.
“The pain of 9/11 endures for these families and all of us who remember that day, and its history must be taught for generations to come,” DeSantis said. “Our work is not done until we have fully brought to light all the details surrounding the attacks, and those responsible are held accountable. I will not rest until both are fully achieved.”
DeSantis also roundly condemned a proposed plea deal that would allow Mohammed and his alleged co-conspirators to avoid the death penalty in exchange for an admission of guilt in the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. Biden rejected the proposed conditions for that plea bargain last week.
“The heinous acts of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his co-conspirators tore at America’s heart and fundamentally altered our nation’s trajectory,” DeSantis said. “Any plea deal allowing the accused to avoid the harshest penalties and transparency is unconscionable given the loss inflicted by their terrorist acts.”