(SURFSIDE, Fla.) — First lady Jill Biden spoke Friday morning at the site of the Champlain Towers South condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida, on the one-year anniversary of the tragedy.
Joining Biden at the event were Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, local officials, and religious leaders.
“We honor the light you found in each other,” she said, recognizing the communal strength of the grieving families.
In the early morning hours of June 24, 2021, the Surfside condominium collapsed, killing 98 people.
Biden offered her personal experience with grief, while speaking to community members and loved ones of those lost in the disaster.
She spoke about a “fellowship of loss” she said she recognizes in society. “To the uninitiated we look normal, average, whole,” said Biden, who lost her stepson, Beau, to brain cancer in 2015. “But like a secret handshake, I can spot them by the sadness that rests at the corner of their smile …”
Biden noted the “moments of grace” that come along with grief. “We find a fortitude that we didn’t know we had and we reach out for help,” she said.
The first lady thanked first responders and said she and President Joe Biden continue to stand with the south Florida community.
She concluded on a positive note, telling grieving loved ones, “Take it one breath at a time. We are praying for you and we are grieving with you. God bless you.”
DeSantis, who sat just to the right of the first lady, followed her remarks with his own account of the collapse one year ago to the day.
He announced the designation of the portion of Collins Avenue where the tower once stood as “98 Points of Light Road” and held a street sign with the newly assigned name.
During a court hearing in May, it was announced that a settlement for the victims now tops $1 billion.
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