Reporting Rich Lamb
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — President Barack Obama was finalizing plans to visit ground zero on Thursday, where he’ll meet with a small, handpicked group of September 11 families at the site.
Obama will also meet with first responders and participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Groun Zero.
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Kurt Horning, of Scotch Plains, N.J., is among those that received an invitation to meet with Obama.
Horning said he intends to tell the president that bin Laden got a better burial than many 9/11 victims.
“He was washed and wrapped and buried at sea after prayers were read and thousands of people from the World Trade Center are in a garbage dump in Staten Island,” Horning, who lost his son in the attacks, said.
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Horning is the co-founder of WTC Families for Proper Burial.
Anthoula Katsimatides, who lost her brother John, also got an invitation and plans to thank the president.
“I think that as the commander in chief we owe him a debt of gratitude,” Katsimatides said.
Mr. Obama will not be joined by his predecessor, President George W. Bush, who declined an invitation and has kept out of the spotlight.
“It certainly brings back memories of that day that I don’t want to remember,” said Annette Fox of Brooklyn.
Retired FDNY firefighter Jim Riches lost his son, Jimmy, who was also a firefighter.
“It just makes me feel better knowing that the man that stood up and killed my son is gone, and has been brought to justice – and that’s it,” Riches told CBS 2′s Jay Dow.
For Riches, the presidential meeting will be a memorable experience, but the former deputy fire chief said nothing – not even bin Laden’s death – will help ease the pain he’s been living since March of 2002. That’s when Riches found his son’s remains, and carried them from the ruins at ground zero.
“There will be no closure for me,” Riches said. “My son’s never going to walk back in the room, and smile, and light up the room.”
Riches said he fully supports the work done by the US Navy SEALs team that killed bin Laden, and that he intends to thank President Obama for green-lighting the mission.
Flag-waving crowds had gathered in Lower Manhattan after the President announced bin Laden’s death late Sunday night.
The observance will unfold against the backdrop of a new, revised narrative of how U.S. Navy SEALs killed the world’s most wanted terrorist, who officials now say was unarmed at the time.
“He was killed in an operation because of the resistance that they met,” said Jay Carney, White House spokesman.
New video of bin Laden’s compound shows a disheveled interior with blood on the floor.
There were several minutes when a visibly tense President Obama watched and waited in real time to hear “Geronimo,” a codename for Bin Laden, was “EKIA” – enemy killed in action.
“I think we always assumed from the beginning that the likelihood was that he was going to be killed,” said CIA Director Leon Panetta.
White House officials said there were no regrets over the secrecy of the mission which did not include briefing Pakistani officials before the raid.
“We make no apologies about that. He was enemy number one for this country and killed many, many innocent civilians. And, no apologies,” Carney said.
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