NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Vice President Joe Biden and singer Billy Joel have honored firefighters at a station whose ranks were decimated on 9/11.

The two joined New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Manhattan at FDNY Rescue Company 1, which lost nearly half of its members on Sept. 11, 2001 when it responded to the north tower of the World Trade Center.

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Biden greeted firefighters with hugs and handshakes in front of memorial plaques honoring their comrades who died on 9/11 and in other incidents. He praised the firefighters for their loyalty and told them to take care of themselves.

“You know there’s an old expression, ‘God created all men equal, but then he created firefighters,'” Biden said.

In a tweet, the FDNY said Biden, Cuomo and Joel also spoke with the family of firefighter Gerard Nevins, who died on Sept. 11.

The vice president also joined Cuomo Friday afternoon at the kickoff for the 9/11 Memorial Motorcycle Ride.

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Billy Joel and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo lead 9/11 motorcycle ride. (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

Billy Joel and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo lead 9/11 motorcycle ride. (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

Standing next to mangled metal and the door of a NYPD patrol car recovered from the 9/11 wreckage, Biden addressed the hundreds of bikers and police officers taking part in the ride, saying the resolve that New Yorkers showed on that fateful day is what steeled the nation to get through the crisis.

New York became the face of resilience for the nation and the 9/11 generation also created America’s finest warriors, Biden said, adding more than 4.5 million people signed up for the U.S. military after the attacks.

Biden said no words can heal the wounds, but New Yorkers have given hope to thousands suffering other enormous losses that maybe they can make it through.

The riders started Friday morning in Albany, Ulster and Suffolk counties before meeting up in New York City.

Joel and Cuomo joined the riders for the last leg of the journey, leading the hundreds of motorcyclists from the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum to the World Trade Center site.

“Today, we honor all those who rushed into danger on September 11, who overcame their fear in order to help others,” Cuomo said. “We must all remember that freedom isn’t free, and on that day 14 years ago, these men and women put their duty and their obligations first knowing it could cost them their life. We admire them and we hope that after all they have done for us that we show half the courage they did because they are true Americans and true New York heroes.”

Cuomo said the threat of terrorism is worse today than it was 14 years ago on 9/11.

“Don’t kid yourself that the threat is gone. — The threat is not over,” Cuomo said, adding the terror threat is like a cancer that metastasizes in the body. He said terrorist groups are more virulent than ever before.

The governor also paid tribute to families still grieving, saying 14 years is like yesterday for those who lost a family member. Cuomo said he disagrees with the adage that time heals — that perhaps time dulls, but it doesn’t heal.

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