When Matt Bocchi was eight years old, he pressed his nose against the windows of Cantor Fitzgerald’s offices on the 105th floor and looked out at the Manhattan skyline.
He was 1,200 feet up in the World Trade Center during his father John’s Christmas party with his younger brother Nick and felt the building begin to sway in the wind.
Nine months later, his father was in the same office in the North Tower when one of the planes crashed – and he didn’t make it.
Twenty-two years later, he and the families of the 2,977 victims captured by terrorist hijackers are mourning the anniversary.
The world remembers where they were when they saw the images of jet planes and towering infernos in lower Manhattan.
However, Joe Biden is celebrating the anniversary in Alaska after returning from Vietnam, where he held a rambling press conference and ended it by saying he was “going to bed.”
This break with tradition sparked a furious reaction from relatives who described it as a “betrayal” and a “slap in the face”.
Matt Bocchi (right) as a child with his father John who died on September 11. He criticized Biden’s decision not to attend a ceremony at one of the three crash sites.
Biden is the first president not to be at one of the three 9/11 crash sites for the anniversary.
Instead, the White House sent Vice President Kamala Harris to New York for this year’s Ground Zero ceremony. Ron DeSantis, invited by the families, was also present.
Bocchi and another American who lost his father on September 11, Brett Eagleson, criticized Biden’s decision to skip the ceremony.
Their anger is compounded by Biden’s meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G20 in India last week – while all files linking the kingdom to the attack remain classified.
Images of the two men shaking hands raised questions about Biden’s motives, Bocchi told Dailymail.com.
Since Biden called the crown prince a “pariah,” he has backtracked, leading Bocchi to question whether the president supports “all” of the 9/11 families.
The families also question why five of the alleged 9/11 conspirators held at Guantanamo Bay were offered a plea deal to spare them the death penalty.
Last week, the president rejected parts of the deal, but the prospect of a plea deal sparked fury from families seeking justice.
For Bocchi, Biden’s decision to be in Alaska is a sign that the government they have lobbied for two decades will let the attacks fade from memory.
Bocchi’s father, John, was in the north tower when one of the planes hit. He helped his colleagues get to safety, but he couldn’t get out in time.
He told DailyMail.com: “It feels like it’s just another betrayal.”
Bocchi questions why Biden offered Guantanamo detainees a plea deal in the first place and questions why they are even being considered for avoiding the death penalty.
“It’s just a huge slap in the face. I think this is probably one of the most unpatriotic actions a president could ever take.
“I would say he doesn’t want to come to any of the 9/11 sites because he’s scared.
“He’s afraid of what the 9/11 families will think or what he will say. This is another step to avoid the situation. He says their legacy must live on.
For 22 years, 9/11 families have pushed every White House for answers.
They demanded that any evidence of Saudi Arabia’s involvement be declassified and asked for help in securing compensation.
Compensation for survivors and support for victims’ relatives have been blocked in endless legal battles.
Loved ones have also had to deal with their lingering grief, and each year brings back memories of how that horrible day unfolded.
Bocchi was removed from his fourth-grade class at elementary school in Harding Township, New Jersey.
He went home and waited for a call from his father which never came.
He later retraced his father’s final moments in a stairwell and spent hours obsessing over videos of people jumping from towers as flames rose and reading blogs about 9/11.
He struggled with drug and alcohol abuse, but is now eight years sober and told him story of resilience of high school students across the country.
He also wrote To balancethe first memoir by a child of one of the victims of the attack.
“I live my life in a much more positive way now. I no longer think of 9/11 in such a negative light.
He will never forget his father and takes comfort in the fact that the country came together afterward.
The search for the terrorists responsible has unified the nation.
Bocchi says the United States is more divided than he can remember, and he worries that 9/11 is slipping from public consciousness.
“Unfortunately, the reality is that people will slowly forget.”
For him, the Americans will ultimately only talk about the horrors of the day of the attack and September 11 “will become a name”.
The devastating consequences and impact on society will be a distant memory.
He says Biden plays a critical role in ensuring the importance of the day endures, and that marking the anniversary in Alaska is a “slap in the face.”
“(The Americans) will think about it briefly tomorrow morning.
“We need a leader who will ensure that those murdered on American soil are not forgotten,” he said.
Bocchi says Donald Trump’s involvement in the Saudi-backed LIV golf tournament continues to frustrate him.
What angered him most was when he held a tournament at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, near where so many 9/11 victims lived and where families still reside today.
Eagleson has been a staunch advocate for families affected by 9/11 since losing his father in the South Tower. He was only 15 when he heard the news.
Brett Eagleson speaking in Washington in 2021/. He also lost his father in the Twin Towers
Eagleson has been a staunch advocate for families affected by 9/11 since losing his father in the South Tower. He was 15 years old
He criticized the eventual plea deal for the alleged conspirators and pressured the federal government to declassify all Saudi files.
And Biden’s decision to be at the “furthest geographic point” from one of the crash sites is “egregious,” he says.
“He chose to plan a trip to Vietnam rather than return a little early to visit one of the three crash sites.”
“This is the first time in 22 years, and it is the greatest form of disrespect we have ever received from a sitting president.”
He also accused the president of “ignoring” families and staying away “does not send the best signals.”
“He wanted to hear about our struggle with the federal government and how successive administrations have failed us.
“I don’t even hope the administration hears us on this issue,” he told DailyMail.com, referring to the plea agreements and Saudi documents.
Eagleson found a strong supporter in Republican presidential candidate DeSantis and his wife Casey.
Florida’s first couple invited them to the governor’s mansion on Memorial Day to hear their stories and learn more about their fight for the truth.
Casey DeSantis Hosts Families of 9/11 Victims for Memorial Day Barbecue
Ron DeSantis Hosts Families of 9/11 Victims for Memorial Day Barbecue
“He wanted to hear about our fight for transparency and truth, and he wanted to hear about the role the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia played in the murder of our loved ones.
The families spoke to him for more than an hour and Eagleson says DeSantis listened to them all
“I think he understood our pain. He understood our suffering. It was a very positive meeting.
“The governor seemed very willing to help us in any capacity, not just as a presidential candidate, but as governor of Florida.”
Eagelson pledged to continue fighting for answers that could give thousands of people closure.
But the events that turned a sunny September morning into darkness and the carnage that followed will live on in history.