The September 11 or 9/11 attacks on the US by Al-Qaeda resulted in a global war against terrorism. Joe Biden was, at that time, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

The senator was on the phone with his wife, Jill, making his morning commute from Delaware to Washington, DC, when the second plane flew into the Twin Towers. 

“Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God”, Jill said, as per CNN. “Jill, what is it?”, Biden had asked, to which his wife replied, “Another plane … the other tower”, CNN reported. 

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He was on the 8:35 AM train from Wilmington to Washington, on September 11, 2001, when the two planes flew into New York’s World Trade Center. 

Biden recalled the day in his memoir, Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics. He’d gotten off at Union Station and saw a brown haze of smoke visible beyond the dome of the Capitol. A third plane had hit the Pentagon. He made his way to the Capitol, which was being evacuated, for fear another plane was headed that way. A fourth plane, headed towards DC would crash land in Pennsylvania, due to the rebellion of a few civilians on board. 

When Biden wasn’t allowed to enter the Capitol, he discussed with Republican Sen. John Warner from Virginia who had the most seniority, so they could call Congress back into session. Speaking to ABC News, a few blocks away, Biden said “Terrorism wins when, in fact, they alter our civil liberties or shut down our institutions. We have to demonstrate neither of those things have happened”, adding, “This nation is too big, too strong, too united, too much a power in terms of our cohesion and our values to let this break us apart. And it won’t happen.” 

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Then-president George W Bush was on Air Force One at the time and called Biden to thank him for his comments on television since his words showed that Democrats and Republicans would rally around the president at the time, as America faced the terrorist attack united.

On that call, Biden dissuaded Bush from going to bunker down in an undisclosed location, instead advising the president to be back in the White House. Bush listened to the senator, and eventually, this started America’s war on Afghanistan – a war Biden supported as a lawmaker, until his own presidency when he eventually withdrew US troops from the country in a move that backfired on his administration and left it reeling.