9/11 families to Obama: 'Thank you for doing what you promised'
Handshakes and hugs marked Obama's visit to ground zero on Thursday. His post-Bin Laden meeting with families who lost loved ones on 9/11 gave some comfort, said several attendees.
(Page 2 of 2)
Present at the wreath laying were members of both political parties, including some who have been critical of Obama, such as Rep. Peter King (R) of New York. Obama went out of his way to shake Representative King’s hand.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Obama at Ground Zero
In Pictures September 11: Revisiting Ground Zero
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a Republican who has several times contemplated running for president, was also at the firehouse and ground zero. Obama commented that they have their political differences most days, but said they are Americans first.
Obama, says Mr. Sabato, is taking a well-earned victory lap. “It continues on Friday, when he flies to Fort Campbell [in Kentucky] to meet with the Navy SEALs’ Team Six [which killed bin Laden]. When you are the president of the United States and running for reelection, everything is political.”
However, many of the 9/11 families downplayed the visit's political aspect. Mr. Santora's wife, Maureen Santora, acknowledged that she is not an Obama fan. But she says she was impressed by his short address Sunday night, and was glad to be invited to the event on Thursday.
“Whatever the critics may say, [such as] it’s a political maneuver, he is doing the right thing, reaching out to the people that had a loss, a loss that they will never recover from,” she said.
Although he had no prepared remarks at the wreath-laying event, Obama spoke the firefighters of Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9 – better known as “the Pride of Midtown.”
The firehouse suffered more losses on 9/11 than any other, losing 15 firefighters, including the Santoras' son, Christopher. Obama said bin Laden's death “sent a message here back home that when we say we will never forget, we mean what we say – that our commitment to making sure that justice is done is something that transcended politics, transcended party; it didn’t matter which administration was in, it didn’t matter who was in charge, we were going to make sure that the perpetrators of that horrible act, that they received justice.”
Obama then thanked the firefighters “on behalf of the American people for the sacrifices that you make every single day.”
Indeed, thanks seemed to be order of the day.
Sally Regenhard, who lost her son, firefighter Christian Michael Regenhard, said before meeting the president that she would tell him “thank you for doing what you promised you would do.”