Obama Visits Ground Zero Where the WTC Once Stood (VIDEO)

At 1:25 pm today, President Barack Obama placed a wreath at ground zero at the site where the World Trade Center once stood in Lower Manhattan. According to the New York Times, he did not make any remarks, as the White House had previously announced. Afterwards, the President met with family members of the victims, firefighters, and other rescue workers who died in the attack on September 11, 2001. As the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, had said on Wednesday morning:

“He wants to meet with them and share with them this important and significant moment, a bittersweet moment.”

The President’s visit to ground zero this afternoon was the first time he has been there while in office. He had visited the site while a presidential candidate.

Prior to visiting ground zero, Obama stopped at the First Precinct Station House in TriBeCa; his remarks to the firefighters can be read here. At the ground zero site, uniformed rescue workers — police officers, firefighters and Port Authority police officers — marched into the memorial plaza and formed an honor guard in two lines. A member of the NYC Fire Department held the wreath, a large circle decorated in red, white and blue flowers. President Obama walked into the plaza with a small group of officials, including Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, and shook hands with those in the honor guard. He then walked with the wreath to the easel underneath the Survivor Tree accompanied by three members of each department, the New York Police Department, the Fire Department of New York and the Port Authority police.

More details of the ceremony can be read via the New York Times CityRoom blog.

The White House had invited former President George Bush to join him at ground zero, but he had declined. A spokesman for Bush said that “he appreciated the invitation but wanted to stick to his policy of staying out of the public spotlight since he left office.” Says the New York Times:

For Mr. Bush, ground zero was the site of one of the iconic moments of his presidency. Days after the World Trade Center towers collapsed, he traveled to the smoldering wreckage to thank the rescue workers, delivering his speech through a firefighter’s bullhorn.

The White House was quick to say it took no offense at Mr. Bush’s decision not to attend, saying that Mr. Bush was invited in the spirit of unity that Mr. Obama said he hoped would prevail in the wake of Bin Laden’s killing, just as it prevailed after the killings perpetrated by Bin Laden nearly a decade ago.

“We’ve made clear that this is a moment of unity for Americans and a moment to recall the unity that existed in this country in the wake of the attacks on 9/11,” Mr. Carney said.

“NYC is about honoring the victims and their families,” as one senior administration official said. 

Indeed: E. Betzy Parks of Bayonne lost her brother on 9/11 and said she “wouldn’t miss this event for the world,” according to the Jersey Journal:

“I welcomed it with great anticipation,” Parks said last night about her e-vite from the White House to meet with the president. “I have the opportunity at this historic moment to speak with the president personally and express the Parks family statement.”

Parks’ brother, Robert Emmett Parks Jr., 47, a Cantor Fitzgerald bond trader who lived in Manhattan, was killed in 9/11. He worked on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center.

Parks, who yesterday described herself as “a member of very unfortunate club that we never wanted to join,” said she planned to spend the night formulating with her mother and her sister what she will say to President Obama.

“Under his (Obama’s) stewardship, the U.S. Armed Forces brought an end to that faction of al-Qaida,” she said. “Bin laden was able to experience the fear and terror that every single victim of 9/11 felt when they got hit that day.”

The president deserves “kudos,” she said, adding the “family ambassador” will have a message prepared for the commander-in-chief.

The Star-Ledger describes what ground zero looks like today while noting how important it was that the President’s visit was restrained in tone, with a focus on the almost 3000 who died on 9/11:

Obama will visit a bustling construction site that bears little resemblance to the pit that became Ground Zero in the months after Sept. 11, 2001. The emerging skyscraper informally known as Freedom Tower is more than 60 stories high now. Mammoth fountains and reflecting pools mark the footprints of the fallen twin towers.

Thousands of people climbed street signs and waved flags in celebration after hearing that bin Laden was killed in Pakistan on Monday, which was Sunday night in New York.

Jim Riches, whose firefighter son was among the nearly 3,000 people killed at the World Trade Center, planned to meet with the president on tday [sic].

“I just want to thank him, hug him and thank him and shake his hand,” Riches said. “Father to father. Thank you for doing this for me.”

…..The president must also handle the moment without being seen as overly celebrating bin Laden’s death or aiming to boost his own standing in victory.

“The president is coming here because this is the place where you can really feel what happened that day,” said Joelle Tripoul, a tourist visiting Manhattan from Marseilles, France. “And I think he wants to come to say that bin Laden’s death marks the end of this stage of our human journey after 9/11.”

Below is a video of President Obama laying a wreath at ground zero.

Photo taken near ground zero today by terryballard

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jane richmond
jane richmond4 years ago

We must never forget the horror of 9/11.

john hall
john hall4 years ago

Nancy D.
obama not releasing the photo's wouldnt make a damn about the terrorist not liking us . they will strike regardless of osama being dead or not and you saying he such a caring and thoughtful person he gave the order to kill a unarmed soldier which i really dont care since osama is dead. but please dont say that crap knowing what he just did .

Nancy Dodson
Nancy Dodson4 years ago

Our President and most of his advisors decided not to release the photos of bin Laden because they are very gruesome even after he was cleaned up for burial at sea. They have a very real concern that releasing these photos will cause retaliation by al Quada against us. If our president did choose to release the photos and we were attacked again then you would be bitching because he released them. You give this man no credit for anything! He didn't make the decision by himself. All the pros and cons were discussed and the president decided the best and safest thing to do was not to release the photos.

Where was your criticism of Bush who WAS a truly awful president? Now we have a very caring, intelligent and thoughtful president and all you do is find fault with everything he does. It's disgusting.

K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons4 years ago

He needs to visit there so he can make sure to get re-elected.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons4 years ago

9/11 was an inside job.

Alexandra Rodda
Alexandra Rodda4 years ago

An important occasion. Problem is, the USA has to be specially alert now for a long time to come, because Al-Quaida is not going to take this lying down.

Bernadette P.
Berny p.4 years ago

The president did the right thing,people have a tendancy to forget easily especially when it is NOT them who suffered.

Without having to celebrate ........the death of a mad terrorist is something to be thankful for soooo well done USA!

Suze O.
Suze Q.4 years ago

"we aren't going to pike the ball", but, bin Laden sure did. Why the ceremonial respect for this mass murderer terrorist? There was no problem releasing death photos of Saddam Husseins brothers. Al Queda put Danny Pearls execution on the internet for the world to see, why not the pictures of a dead bin Laden for the world to see. We assasinate him but don't release pictures, counter-intuitive move. Death can be grusome; 9/11 was grusome for the victims and families. Obama's compassion is misplaced here. His concern for victims families, yet he lack of concern for CIA interrogators being investigated by Holder (another hypocrit). This of course allowed bin Laden to be found and destroyed. Again counter-intuitive moves.

Rosemary G.
Rosemary G.4 years ago

That is the direct result of Fox educated idiots who don't know how to spell their own language.