President Barack Obama paid a brief, but somber visit to Ground Zero yesterday, just days after ordering the killing of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.
Obama carried a red-and-white wreath slowly to a wooden easel under the “Survivors’ Tree,” a callery pear tree nearly destroyed on 9/11.
He met with about 60 family members who lost loved ones on 9/11, including stopping to hug the daughters of Cantor Fitzgerald employee Glen James Wall, who died in the North Tower. Obama invited the girls to attend after Wall’s daughter Payton, 14, wrote the president a letter, telling him about her father.
Long Island resident and Pakistani-American Talat Hamdani also met the president. She told him about her son, Mohammad Salman Hamdan, 23, an NYPD cadet who died in the attacks.
“It was very healing,” she said of her five minutes with Obama and other family members at the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site, where she said the room was filled with tears.
Patricia Smith, 11, got the chance to tell the president about her mother, Moira, an NYPD officer killed nearly one decade ago.
“He’s really nice,” she told Metro, wearing a locket with a photo of her mother. “He said that he was proud of us.”
Obama’s 15-minute visit was nearly silent except for the shutter clicks of cameras. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Christie also all attended.
Security officials were at nearly every corner, including men that appeared to be Secret Service, with sunglasses and earpieces.
Cuomo told Metro, “It’s a day of mixed emotions. Justice is done,” he said, but added, “Today brings back recollections of a very bad day. We hold both feelings in our hearts.”
Girl hopes for Bieber
The president promised to pull some celebrity strings for one New York teen. Payton Hall, who lost her father in the 9/11 attacks, told Obama of her desire to meet Justin Bieber. She wrote two letters about her father — one to Bieber, and one to Obama. The president promised to set up a meeting the next time Bieber visits the city. “I wrote to Obama about how Justin Bieber inspired me to tell my story,” she said.