NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Barack Obama laid a wreath at the site of the collapsed Twin Towers of the World Trade Center paying tribute to victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in a solemn ceremony Thursday.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb: It Was A Simple, Solemn Ceremony; Firefighter Calls Meeting President “Surreal”

The wreath was placed at the nine-acre 9/11 Memorial plaza on an “X” marked by the Survivor Tree that was pulled — charred and half dead — from the burning rubble.

That tree is now healthy and flowering on the plaza, having been planted to honor victims and first responders.

President Obama Signs A Log Book At The 1st Precinct (credit: Kathleen Maloney, 1010 WINS)

The President closed his eyes and clasped his hands at the outdoor memorial where the towers once dominated the Manhattan skyline. He shook hands with 9/11 family members and others at the site, where the skyscrapers were brought down by planes commandeered by Osama bin Laden’s followers. Nearly 3,000 people were killed.

The President was accompanied by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Gov. Chris Christie, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others who were there to witness the extraordinary rebirth of Ground Zero.

PHOTOS: President Obama Visits Ground Zero | Rebuilding Ground Zero

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell With A 9/11 Family Member Who Met President Obama

Prior to visiting the site of the deadly terror attack, Obama visited Engine 54’s firehouse at 48th & 8th and the First Precinct Police Station in lower Manhattan — which covers the World Trade Center area.

1010 WINS’ Kathleen Maloney Reports From The First Precinct

US President Barack Obama greets police officers at the First Precinct police station in lower Manhattan in New York on May 5, 2011. (Photo credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Obama told officers “there are still going to be threats out there,” alluding to the death of bin Laden. Of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, he said: “We keep them in our hearts. We haven’t forgotten.”

There was heavy security, but New Yorkers still turned out by the hundreds to gather just southeast of the World Trade Center site and line the roads to watch the President’s motorcades.

There were happy faces and flags waved in the crowd though they were cordoned off blocks from where the President entered the Ground Zero site.

Ground Zero itself, still very much a construction site, is nonetheless taking shape. The footprints of the fallen towers have been immortalized in fountains and reflecting pools. The Freedom Tower is now 60 stories tall. Construction of the 9/11 memorial is moving forward quickly in advance of the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell: An Emotional Day For 9/11 Families And First Responders

Police were out in full force — in uniform, plainclothes and undercover. There has been heightened security in New York since the death of bin Laden.

1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria Speaks With People Who Were Invited To Greet The President At Kennedy Airport

Officials have been on the lookout for suspicious packages, but police say there are no specific threats against the city.

Ahead of Obama’s arrival, Deanne McDonald stood at the northeast corner of the World Trade Center site waving an American flag in each hand and shouting “Obama got Osama! Obama got Osama!”

“God bless the Navy SEALS,” said McDonald, 38, from Brooklyn. She took work off on Thursday to wait for the President, saying she was prouder than ever to be an American.

“I’m so proud of the president,” she said. “It happened on his watch.”

PHOTOS: New Yorkers Celebrate Death Of Osama Bin Laden

“It’s 10 years after the terrible event, horrible massacre, and there’s some sense of closure now,” said Natalie Dourlot of Tourise, France.

Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward Explains Details On The Wreath Laying To WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb

Some at Ground Zero came for a glimpse of Mr. Obama. “To see the President of the United States and I would love to shake his hand,” said Lawrence Bova of the Bronx.

Others came out of a sense of patriotism.

“I am a veteran so I felt I had a duty to come here and be here today,” said Korean War Veteran Ward Wilhide of Morristown, N.J.

Teddy Andrews lost a cousin in the 9/11 attacks. He came to lay down a burden.

“Everybody’s celebrating what happened with Osama bin Laden but I didn’t want to forget her, and so today is just my way of coming back and saying ‘I still haven’t forgotten’,” he said.

1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports: Silence Falls On Ground Zero 

Obama invited his predecessor, President George W. Bush, to the ceremony, but he declined the invitation and has kept out of the spotlight.

Retired FDNY deputy chief Jim Riches is one of the more recognizable representatives of September 11 families and met with Obama.

For Riches, this presidential visit was also an opportunity to make a plea for the budget-crunched New York City Fire Department.

“I have three sons in the Fire Department, and the mayor is looking to close 20 fire houses. I think that’s irrational. We’re the number one terrorist target in the world,” he said.

Many family members including Sally Reganhard, who lost her son Christian, stopped short of saying bin Laden’s death brings them closure.

“If I can say that someone in my position is happy, he’s given us some solace and consolation,” said Regenhard.

What’s your opinion on the president’s visit to Ground Zero? Leave a comment below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (22)
  1. liz says:

    I applaud President Obama. First class all the way today! He did the right thing. GOD BLESS AMERICA, GOLD BLESS OUR MILITARY AND GOD BLESS OUR PRESIDENT.
    signed a Republican

  2. Winny says:

    Its Cinco de Mayo!!!!! Another reason for the hero firemen to drink in uniform

    1. brooklyn4ever says:

      Just the Mexican ones. You’re a jerk.

  3. MOOSE says:

    All my friends family got was a finger from there FDNY hero. They should have taken Bin Laden body, put him into a shredder and fed him to the pigs…..

  4. john says:

    GOD bless president Obama and guide him on his calculated and unrelenting fight on terrorism may all souls of 9/11 rest in peace amen.

  5. JOHN A. says:

    It was very befitting that President Obama came to pay his respects to all those lost on September 11th.He did an excellent job going after and having that mass murdering fiend,Bin Laden killed.Kudos to those brave navy seals who were involved in this very dangerous mission!We said that we would hunt him down and bring him to justice,dead or alive,and we did.Don’t mess with the U.S.A.-we will come after you and get you,either dead or alive!

  6. John says:

    GOD bless barack obama for his unrelenting effort in fighting and hunting down terrorism a plus for you sir on bringing down osama bin laden. John, Nigeria

  7. nathan says:

    Rudy mocked him as a “community organizer”. Obama showing pure class, lets go of it completely. And btw, mayor 9-11 seems to be enjoying his own community today.

  8. PussBuss says:

    OKC and 9/11 were inside jobs. Obuma promotes the forever war.

  9. HooDatIS? says:


  10. Sick and Tired American says:

    Obama is a Brown Suit and this is his first visit to Ground Zero because he is making it his campaign trail. I can’t wait to vote him out of the White House.

    1. Johnny Handsome says:

      @Sick and Tired American: Here a thought. Get back on the boat your people came from and go back to the country you came from. You are not an American.

  11. Andre Latigan says:

    The way forward is clear for President Obama to save us all through civilized leadership.

  12. Ellen says:

    Georg W Bush declined an invitation from Obama because he wants to stay out of the limelight. Don’t believe that one for a minute . Oh ya doesn’t have anything to do with the fact Bin Laden was taken down during Obama’s administration and not his?

  13. Tom says:

    And who invited the Exploiter-in-Chief Giuliani?

  14. GREG says:


    1. Johnny Handsome says:

      @Greg: We give whatever money to this country because they keep our secrets. Of course they knew where Bin Laden was all this time. Guess what? So did we.

  15. Nick says:

    Go burn down mecca and we’ll call it even.

    1. M says:

      An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

      Besides, Islam is NOT the problem here. Extremist radicals exist in every faith (or lack thereof sometimes). Oklahoma City ring any bells for you? That was Americans attacking Americans.

    2. nathan says:

      So many innocents died on 9-11 and Nick is still with us. There is no justice.

    3. Johnny Handsome says:

      @ Nick: Another one of the FOX 5 educated.

  16. P S. says:

    must be nice for the people who lost family, friends, and work mate’s to think that people have not forgotten them. god love them all. Retired F/F Ireland.

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