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Biden draws on personal grief in comforting Flight 93 families


SHANKSVILLE, PA -- Of all Joe Biden's political skills and foibles, perhaps his most powerful asset was on display in Shanksville, PA on Tuesday: Compassion in the face of others' grief.

Biden, who lost his wife and daughter in a 1972 car accident, commemorated 9/11 victims at the site of the Flight 93 crash and described with heavy emotion the grief he knows their families felt in the aftermath of the terror attacks.

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Vice President Joseph Biden speaks at the Flight 93 National Memorial during observances commemorating the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, in Shanksville, Pa, on September 11, 2012.

"No matter how many anniversaries you experience, for at least an instant, the terror of that moment returns, the lingering echo of that phone call, that sense of total disbelief that envelops you," he said. "You feel like you're being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest."

"My hope for you all is that as every year passes, the depth of your pain recedes," he continued. "And you find comfort - as I have - genuine comfort in recalling his smile, her laugh, their touch."  

The ceremony, which included a reading of each of the 40 passengers and crew members' names, took place at the still-incomplete memorial in the small Pennsylvania town where the hijacked plane crashed.

Vice President Joe Biden says, "Like all of the families, I wish we weren't here. I wish we didn't have to be here," at a 9/11 memorial service in Shanksvilla, Pa.

Offering comfort on a sparkling morning not unlike the one of the terror attacks, Biden said the nation has not forgotten the heroes' sacrifice.

"They’ve not forgotten the heroism of your husbands, wives, sons daughters, mothers, fathers," he said. "And that what they did for this country is still etched in the minds of not only you, but millions of Americans forever."