tv CNN Newsroom CNN May 5, 2011 11:00am-1:00pm EDT
problem and the spirit of americans and almost 3,000 lives lost in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. i'm wolf blitzer and we want to welcome you to the president's special visit to ground zero, an important day for the president of the united states and important day for the american people. anderson cooper will be joining us shortly. mr. obama's visit comes just six days after he ordered the raid that killed al qaeda leader, osama bin laden, the architect of the terrorist attacks. the president meets with families of 9/11 victims, visits a fire station that lost 15 firefighters and lays a wreath at the hallowed ground where the world trade center once stood. the site has certainly changed a lot since president obama was
there during the presidential campaign. look at this amazing time lapse images. from the upcoming documentary "rebirth." today, we focus on people who lost loved ones in this first attacks, who lost loved ones responding to save others including the 343 firefighters kindle the attacks. this hour, the president visits the firehouse to honor the memory of the firehouse and other first responders. it's to remember the victims and about the people around the country and around the world who rallied together in the aftermath of the horrific attacks of september 11. cnn's mary snow is joining us from fire station engine 54 firehouse, which lost 15 firefighters on 9/11. set the scene for us, mary. >> reporter: wolf, we're
anticipating the president will arrive here in the half hour. as you can imagine, security has been stepped up throughout the morning. once the president gets closer, traffic will be blocked off around the firehouse and probably be here 45 minutes, may make some remarks inside the firehouse. we're told he will be meeting with all the on duty firefighters, 17 or 18 on duty within the firehouse. will be get a tour, there is a memorial in the firehouse, all 15 of the firefighters killed on 9/11, their pictures are up in the firehouse and also plaques remembering them. we also told wolf firefighters have prepared lunch for the president, anticipate sitting down with him. we spoke to two earlier this morning and said they would like to thank him for in their words, a job well done. they once said they believe it will be a morale booster for
engine 54, ladder 4. this has certainly been very emotional days since sunday. a lot of mixed emotions. some firefighters saying they were so relieved osama bin laden had been captured and killed but sann saddened when they were reminded why that mission was -- why they had to go and capture osama bin laden and they are always constantly on guard. this is one of the busiest fire stations in new york city. wolf. >> have you had a chance to ask those firefighters how they feel about the president's decision not to release the photo of bin laden's body? >> reporter: we didn't get a chance to ask them that. we are told we will be able to talk with them after the president meets with them. so we certainly want to hear whether or not that is brought up during their conversations with the president. >> the president is in new york city getting ready for this emotional significant dramatic moment. mary, we'll get back to you.
cnn's deborah fereyick is also speaking with a lot of people on greenwich street in manhattan, crowds are gathering, what's the mood where you are? >> reporter: the mood, it's a somber mood still. many people coming looking at some of the things posted up along the wall on the perimeter of the world trade center, we are basically west of the trade center site. this is a site clearly that has defined the psyche of so many new yorkers, everybody has a story where they were on that day, what they were doing and how it changed them. one of the folks i spoke to said while this is significant, a major blow, not the finishing blow. people who got illnesses related to the cleanup of ground zero, first responders and firefighters and police, they are still living with the effects of this. talk about the people, others still in afghanistan, still dying. there is a sense this is going
on. for the president today, it is a victorious moment. he will come here, meet with about 50 families. it will be a very intimate setting. he will be able to talk to them individually, share his thoughts, listen to them. the 9/11 families, from the very beginning, they wanted to be listened to because this was such a tragedy to them and politics globally. he will meet with them, look at the site. we were down inside the site on the ninth anniversary, it's being turned into a memorial, museum, critical pieces of mementos for lack of a better word from that day. here, people are waiting for his arrival. you can see satellite trucks behind me. those are closer to the actual site and he will be there and able to lay a wreath. everybody waiting for his arrival right now. >> this is the first time he's been back to ground zero since
he's become president of the united states. this meeting he will have with family members, i take it this won't be cameras, live coverage. this is personal, private, may be still photos released later. is that your understanding, deb? >> reporter: yep. that's our understanding. sort of opportunity to meet and say we keep our promises, we kept our promises to you, all the families, no matter how long it took to get bin laden. president obama today, it will be a different picture, different feel. something very moten us mentous. the last picture we have president bush, days after the attack, meeting and rallying the first responders and really rattling the saber. now, president obama will be here and will sort of put that final stamp to say, we got him. >> it will be a very emotional moment and i dear say, probably
one of the iconic images of his presidency whether one-term or two-term presidency, the president of the united states, at ground zero, laying a wreath only a few days after bin laden has been killed. this will be a very emotional passionate dramatic moment all of us will want to see. before i let you go, has anyone at all in new york, you're based there, you speak to people, including family members, first responders, police, firefighters, has anyone said to you, in new york, this is inappropriate, that the president is politically exploiting the death of bin laden by coming to new york today? >> reporter: new yorkers as a whole are a pretty cynical bunch but i think there is a deep understanding this is okay. this is being done, yeah. there is going to be a photograph. with all due respect, it's something most people feel is right, for him to come to meet with the families.
some people bowlwould argue, yo should stay in washington. there's a certains, let him at least come to the very spot where all of this began. if nothing else, there's a sense of closure that now as we begin to celebrate the ongoing memorials, as this whole sacred ground where the towers fell becomes a memorial and museum and place for people to come and reflect, it will have a very different tone because, if nothing else, osama bin laden has been killed. now, with all the information we may be getting from computers and hard drives and disks, there's a sense it's not over. this part is still a lot more work to be done and going in a different direction now. now, a sense of finality that he's gone. >> we will come back to you, deb fereyick as well. you have people over there who want to speak, family members, survivors, first responders. we want to hear from them as
well. we're just getting ready. the president of the united states is in new york city, going to ground zero, laying a wreath, meeting with firefighters at a fire station, meeting with family members, those who survived, the nearly 3,000 people killed on 9/11. our continuing coverage of this historic and dramatic moment will continue. i want to bring in cnn's anderson cooper who made his way to ground zero. you had to go through security, i take it, not all that easy on a sensitive day like this. >> reporter: obviously, security is very tight, understandably so. just moving along, they opened up the sight to reporters and those who need access to it. we're at the memorial location dedicated on september 11th this year. you can see the museum being built, supposed to be open to the public the following year of 2012. there's a lot for the president
to see, a lot of changes since the last time he was here and we'll be talking about that a lot throughout the day. >> we'll be getting back to you. anderson is going to be anchoring from the site, ground zero from new york. i'm here in washington. we have a lot to go through. this is one of those days a lot of us will always remember. our coverage continues right after this. ♪ sometimes i feel like... mom! ♪ i know i can count on you ♪ sometimes i feel like saying... ♪ mom! mom! ♪ ...see me through [ male announcer ] you know mom. ♪ you got the love... we know diamonds. together we'll make this mother's day one she'll never forget. momma!
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break the grip of pain with aspercreme. i'm anderson cooper from new york. welcome back to our cnn newsroom. special coverage of president obama's visit to ground zero. during his visit, the president is meeting privately with families of 9/11 victims and also take part in a wreath laying ceremotainly at this spot the world trade center. with correspondent john king as well. and in some ways to mend relationships with 9/11 families. >> mend relationships with 9/11 families and the word "closure" has been used, i don't know you
can ever have closure. for the president of the united states to come here, carefully done, not a speech, no remarks, private meetings with families, engine ladder company number 10 there. they were expecting a big event in september for the 10th anniversary and the killing of bin laden now brings the president of the united states here today. and the time with the 9/11 families, they will talk about seeing a president at this site, very different emotions. bush was here days after 9/11 saying, i hear you, we will get them. george w. bush wanted this day and wanted to get bin laden and now his successor will be here to celebrate might not be the right word because of the solemnity of the site but celebrate. >> he invited former president bush and chose not to come. >> he has chose not to come and
wants to keep low profile from the political event. this is not a political event, a day of celebration, seems like an odd word to use. the former president said he appreciated the invitation but wanted to keep to his low profile and didn't feel it was appropriate for him to be here on this day. >> how concerned do you think the white house is about the drip-drip of information. the story has changed about events on the ground, perhaps some of that expected in the fog of war and heat of combat, recollections are different. there obviously has been a history of u.s. military, u.s. officials giving out incorrect information sometimes purposely in the case of pat tillman, jessica lynch. is the white house concerned about the sort of evolving story? >> they are concerned, which is one of the reasons in the last 24 hours they've become very stingy with new details. they're getting after action
reports, s.e.a.l.s have all filed after action reports and debriefed. the white house knows a lot more. there is a shame they put out this muscular narrative first there was a constant firefight bin laden was armed and perhaps he even fired a few shots. now, we know he was not armed, an ak-47 in the room and pistol. if all that takes away from the heroism of the s.e.a.l.s it's a shame. and you have the white house pulling back a bit. realize it was a mistake, got out too soon and an effort to give us information on a story we were thirsty for every last detail. in the end they undermined the sense of now, can we believe what they tell us now. that's a shame in the sense the commandos who did this operation, the president having the guts to order this operation and to have now a debate, are they telling us the truth? are they trying to hide something. why did they say it was as
muscular at the beginning and find out it was less so. doesn't mean it wasn't daring or risky and the fact the commandos weren't involved and it takes away from them. >> he is working today to have this not be anything political about this. >> that takes care of itself. we have seen an increase in his poll numbers. the white house says the decision was not political. for 9 1/2 years the hunted for bin laden has been a top priority of the united states regardless of the president and the name of the party of the president. no doubt a president benefits when dramatic events viewed as positive happens. >> this president benefits. his handling terrorism is up and those who view him as a strong and disguisetive le tidecisive .
what questions will we be having in a year? about the economy. but a more decisive president, it helps him politically. that will take care of itself. he doesn't need to talk about that. >> for some officials releasing a photo, it seems on "60 minutes" all along he never intended to release the photo. he told cbs is inclination was no. his top aides said it was no. the cia director, leon panetta got out ahead of people saying the question was not if but when. i was told and others told secretaries clinton at the state department and gates were the most forceful, mr. president, look around the world. have there been any anti-american demonstrations? no. any retaliatory strikes in the last 72 hours? no. why would you want to risk inflammation of something that has gone better than anybody in the national security intelligence agency could have
hoped. >> we will be talking more later. you could not have a more glorious day than this one, a few clouds all around and beautiful day to be down here remembering at ground zero. >> very appropriate on this very special day. at engine 54, the fire station, the president should be arriving with his motorcade, anderson, momentarily. you can see the buzz. mary snow is over at engine 54. set the scene for us. the president will be going inside meeting with firefighters. >> reporter: a beautiful day. american flag flying above engine 54, ladder 4. security is extremely tight. the street has been blocked off around this firehouse. just a few moments ago we heard a police officer coming with a bullhorn telling people living in this area to close their windows. some people gathered behind barricades waiting for the president's arrival.
once he is inside, we're told he will be meeting with 17 or 18 firefighters who were on duty today. he'll be there in. we're told the firefighters have also cooked lunch for him and planned to sit down and eat with him. he may make some wrarremarks. we may hear from him once he is inside. this is his first step in new york city. you may have heard that bullhorn police again, telling people staying in a hotel room to close their windows, as they anticipate the president's arrival here. >> yeah. you can see security is very tight for the president of the united states in this very sensitive part of lower manhattan. i am told, mary, the remarks the president will make at some point, probably inside this fire station, will be rather informal. not going to be like a major political type speech or anything like that. he will have some remarks.
is that what you're hearing over there? >> reporter: that's what we're anticipating, informal remarks. if the president does speak to the press inside the firehouse, there will be a pool camera in there with him. but, yeah, definitely the tone here is that it's going to be very informal setting, that he'll be taking a tour also of this firehouse. see the memorial inside the firehouse, memorials to the 15 men who were killed on september 11th. >> all heroes indeed. stand by. we want to see the president's motorcade arrive and see him go inside. we'll have coverage for our viewers on that. david gergen is joining us. our senior political analyst. you worked for four american presidents. the tone the president sets
today a few days after killing bin laden is important because you don't want to be overtly political on such a sensitive day. >> an not overtly celebratory. i think the wreath laying is meant to convey a sense of dignity and honor, quieter than we might have expected. if we all remember how george w. bush went just after 9/11, famous, so defiant. when people yelled at him, we can't hear you, mr. president, firemen and policemen, he yelled back, but i can hear you and so can all of america. that was a moment we had to rally people and come together and fight this terrorism. now, president obama comes a decade later after a decade of war to the most important shrine we have to the beginning of this war. 9/11, this site is almost to america what pearl harbor is to
our national memories. >> that's a good point. anderson cooper is at ground zero awaiting the president. this is a day, i was saying earlier, a lot of folks will remember but certainly one this president of the united states will always remember. >> obviously, he felt it was important to be here and meet with the families. john king is here. you're getting information about who met the president when he arrived at new york. >> looking at the pool report as he travels. they brought marine one to the landing zone, very close to here. you can see motorcycles now approaching. ruddy guiliani, the mayor of the city at that time, so often on the grounds. ru rudy guiliani meeting the president. >> are there a lot of people there to see the president? >> reporter: there are,
anderson. we're just seeing the motorcade pull up. you can hear the cheer of the crowd behind me, so many tourists in this area, so much anticipation, motorcades right now pulling up to the doors of the firehouse and crowds. >> let's listen in to see if we can hear anything. the firehouse knows very well the pain of 9/11. they lost 15 men on 9/11, engine
54, ladder 4, battalion 9, 48th street in new york. the president, how much time is he going to be spending inside and what is he going to be doing? >> reporter: we're told he will be there 45 minutes and meeting with 17 or 18 firefighter men on duty today. we're told they will be taking him on a tour of the memorial in there, dedicated to the 15 men killed on september 11th. we're also told he will be chatting with them, talking with them. we're also told they have also made lunch for him. firemen have a reputation being such good cooks and working on that this morning. we did talk to two firefighters earlier this morning. what do you want to tell him? what's the message? >> we want to say thank you, in their words, for a job well done. you might see the sanitation
trucks now blocking the view. we were told by nypd earlier, once the president was inside, these trucks would be pulled up, a security measure as part of securing the block around this fire station in the heart of times square. >> mary, thanks very much. wolf, a full day for the president here and we'll be covering every step of the way. >> interesting, anderson, i want john to weigh in as well. mary, i don't know if you had a good view of the president and his limousine arriving there. we saw valerie jarrett walking in behind the president, his senior aide. i think i saw rudy guiliani emerge from the president's limo. you had heard rudy guiliani was there to welcome the president. did we know he was going to drive to the firehouse with the president of the united states? > >> reporter: we have not seen that level of detail in the schedule. rudy guiliani became known as
america's mayor after those days in 9/11 and walked this site that day and so many days after and became a national figure of unity and resolve has also given the president of the united states a democrat, rudy guiliani is a republican, given the president of the united states a lot of credit in recent days. it is a sign of how this is viewed as a day of healing and reflection for this city, remembrance for this city, not a political day. credit to mayor guiliani for being there to greet the president and at his side today, especially among the first responders, mayor guiliani a very popular figure in this city. >> very popular indeed. the former president bush declined the invitation and former president bill clinton declined but mayor rudy guiliani was there on september 11 and not all of us remember what he did. stand by. the president is now inside this firehouse. we will have continuing coverage all building up to that moment not too far down the road where
he will go to ground zero and he will lay a wreath, remembering the nearly 3,000 people who died on 9/11. our special coverage will continue from the cnn newsroom right after this. a lot of times, things are right underneath our feet, and all we need to do is change the way we're thinking about them. a couple decades ago, we didn't even realize just how much natural gas was trapped in rocks thousands of feet below us. technology has made it possible to safely unlock this cleanly burning natural gas. this deposits can provide us with fuel for a hundred years, providing energy security and economic growth all across this country. it just takes somebody having the idea, and that's where the discovery comes from.
welcome back to our returning coverage of president obama's visit to ground zero. we have video now of the president landing a short time ago. also, you're seeing him arriving at the fire station to meet with a number of firefighters. this is a fire station that had lost 15 members on 9/11. engine 54, ladder number 4, battalion 9. he'll be coming to ground zero to lay a wreath along with representatives from the new york fire department and authorities from the new york city police department. i want to tell you about monica. she lost her husband in 9/1111. her husband was a bond broker on the 84th floor of the south tower. it's a pleasure, thank you for being with us. you founded a non-profit not long after the attacks.
tell me about it. >> it probably started two weeks after when i realized my husband wasn't coming home and i may never get him home, which i haven't to this day, have any remains of him. i started to work on the memorial soon after talks about recovery were happening and wanted to make sure we have a proper fitting place to go to in the future at this world trade center site. that's what i focused on and have been doing that ever since. >> you're one of the people selected to meet with president obama later today. what do you want to say to him? what do you want him to hear? >> i want to say, i'm so proud of our government, military, especially navy s.e.a.l.s. i was so shocked and don't think about him and never have on that horrific day when i lost my husband and the other 3,000 lives almost, focused on doing the right thing and honoring them and making sure we had the
world class memorial and museum we will have in less than 129 days with the memorandums to follow. i'm proud to show that off. we worked hard to get the eight acres out of 16. it will be an amazing memorial and tribute to our loved ones, a place we can honor them. i look forward to seeing my husband, michael, in less than 29 days i can go home and see him finally because he's at that site. i want to make sure the president understands the perhaps of sustaining this memorial for the future. since he's no longer with us, that person, don't say his name, that shows the perhaps of the site is to us, he needs to realize he's coming here now, a proud day to show it off. he will be amazed how much progress has been made at the site. when he comes here on the 10th anniversary. because this person's not here, he's coming earlier than expected. i'm really proud to show it off.
>> monica, it's interesting, you don't say his name, the name of the murderer who did all this and out of respect, i'm not saying it either for you. why is that important not to even utter his name? >> i don't want to give evil any perhaps, you know. i don't want to -- when i say my husband, michael patrick eiken, i carry his spirit and he lives on through my words and the name. woe won't giver credit to someone who's evil and took him away. the less power he gets the better off we are making sure we move forward and really understand the perhaps of this day. this day is to honor our loved ones. the sun is out, my husband is here in spirit. i'm very proud that i'm here to be able to show it hoff and tell him about my husband, michael, that i lost that day. i'll never forget and we'll never forget what happened here. we need to make that clear, we have to continue to honor them and move forward now. he's no longer here, so we can
rejoice in that and kind of think about what's important and our loved ones are the most important things. i'm happy the sun is out because this is really -- i'm proud. proud today to be an american and i'm so proud to show off this memorial. the world will see it soon, 129 days to go. >> monica, as you said, it is a glorious day to be on this site and in the city. thank you for sharing part of it with us and thank you for your strength. >> thank you so much. >> i'm joined now by new york senator charles schumer who joins me here at the site. what is it like for you to be here on this day? >> it's an amazing day. i think back to the day after 9/11, when we came here, the smell of death was in the air, people holding posters saying, have you seen my sister? my daughter, my husband? everyone thought downtown would be deserted. we thought everyone would move
far away, buildings going up, streets are crowded, young people are flocking here. america triumph, bin laden being gone, turning point in the war on terror, it gives you a lot of faith in the future of this country and good and right can prevail. >> in the last couple of days, more and more details have come out. do you want 0 knto know all the details? is it important? there's criticism the details are changing. >> i think the details are important, not anything that gives up security. knowing what we've retrieved will help us understand the future war on terror. frankly, knowing what pakistan has done and not done is going to help shape our policy to pakistan. >> how concerned are you about the relationship with pakistan? >> i think it will be our number one foreign policy problem in the next decade. pakistan is a divided weak country, nuclear country, they've never had strong leadership. there's real trouble there.
any country that makes dr. kahn, the man who sold nuclear weapons to north korea a hero, something's wrong. >> what do you want to see today from president obama? >> i think he's doing it exactly right. this is about the families, saying, look, we captured bin laden. that's a great thing. we have not forgotten you and know the pain you have will be there forever. i was there when george bush stepped on the pile. that was vintage george bush. some say it was staged. it was not staged, spontaneous, this is vintage barack obama. he is quieter, more cerebral, but he is just as strong and he cares about the family. the fact he's not giving a speech, the fact he's laying a wreath, meeting with them privately speaks so well, i think, of him and totally right and appropriate. >> for so long, there has been controversy over the site, slow, a lot of different competing interests. it does seem in the last year or two years, there really has been
real noticable progress. >> no question. >> this memorial will be dedicated september 11th, the museum the following year. >> the tower is going up, other towers are going up. when you contrast that to the idea downtown would be deserted and bin laden had victory over us, never count america out and never count new york out. >> do you think al qaeda -- do you think this is a death blow for al qaeda? >> i think it is a turning point. the war on terror is not over but a major turning point both substantive and psychological. all those young people whose mind he infected and said to them, the west is weak, you throw a few blows at them like this and they will collapse. well, he's gone, we're downtown here and we're booming. >> it also seems like his message that the only way you can affect change is through murder and death has been prove an failure not just by the united states and europe but by young people in the muslim world
who are rising up. >> yes. this is world change. it's symbolic in a very important way, also real. also shows you there is -- the world is right. evil sometimes takes steps forward but it just somehow doesn't prevail. it's maybe an article of faith but it was proven by the events of this week and proven by being here today. >> appreciate your time. thank you very much. glad to be with you. one of many people we will be talking to today. it is an extraordinary day in new york. yesterday was raining and cold. you could not ask for a more lovely day to remember and honor those we've lost. wolf. >> fascinating, anderson, that woman who refuses to utter the name of the mastermind, killer who was responsible and who himself was killed over the weekend, i'm hearing that increasingly from folks. they don't even want to utter his name and out of respect right now, i won't.
it's a fascinating important development happening on this almost 10 years since 9/11. the president of the united states right now is inside engine 54, one of the fire stations you saw him arriving live here on our coverage. just a little whiline ing ago, waived to folks there. valerie jarrett walks in, one of the senior aides and you see rudy guiliani, the former mayor walking in as well accompanying the president on this historic day which is totally appropriate since he was mayor of new york on 9/11. he's inside the fire station right now, engine 54, ladder 4, meeting with firefighters, other first responders having lunch with them. later, he will go to ground zero memorial and lay a wreath there. after that, he will have a private opportunity to meet with some surviving family members. that will be a very emotional powerful moment as well.
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zero, you see police officer security there. the president of the united states will be heading there from the engine 54 fire station where he's meeting right now with firefighters and others having lunch with him. he'll be going to the memorial and laying a wreath at what's called the surviving tree. the president will not be speaking then, afterwards go into a nearby building to meet with family members who survived loved ones killed on 9/11 only 10 years ago, all this happened after osama bin laden was killed by u.s. navy s.e.a.l.s in abbottabad, pakistan. anderson is at ground zero watching this unfold. i can't tell you how emotional this is for so many viewers in the united states and viewers around the world, who are watching right now. >> certainly for new yorkers as well. i'm honored to be joined by a
great new yorker, a former firefighter, whose son, jonathan died on 9/11 and found his son's body and removed it a few days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. we talked to you a lot during the years, how are you on this day? >> i think it's a great day for the country and for free world countries, sending a beautiful signal we know the fight is not over. eliminated the snake in the grass but still cells out there and say stay vigilant. if i had the opportunity, i would want to say thanks first to president bush and president obama to continue. and the intelligence people did a fabulous job, military, fabulous job, s.e.a.l. team 6, you can't say enough about these people. it was great that we did it. you know what, it took a while. i knew we were going to do it. can't forget the 6,000 plus who died trying to do this.
>> you served in vietnam as well, had interesting experiences there. when you heard the operation, it's a remarkable -- what they did is extraordinary from a military standpoint. >> people don't really understand what went into this operation, especially the special units, these s.e.a.l. teens and special forces. they are the elite off the elite. not something you hop in a chopper and drop down. they train train train, you have a mission, if you don't stay focused, you can't accomplish it. these guys and gals, they stay focused. you wouldn't want anybody else coming to help you than this group. i was extremely pleased. >> you work with the visitor's center here and also come to this site a lot. as you see it develop, this is the memorial area that will be dedicated to your son and others in september. that's the museum behind us. do you like the way it's turning out? >> anderson, it's interesting because i've been here literally almost 10 years. i wasn't too sure how it was
going to transpire. i came here about two weeks ago to do a special for a documentary. i came on site, stood over there, there was the survivor tree. it was in full bloom. it was pure white with the little buds, a flowering paieari think it is. i can't tell you how impressed i was and the feeling that came from inside. we are bringing life back in a way. we have to understand why we're rebuilding. we can't lose focus ability what happened 10 years ago. so, i'm so pleased it's going to be done for the 10th anniversary. and our buildings around us. i am still so concerned about our young people especially, what tomorrow will bring, that education has to be key, we need to educate in this country. >> you will be meeting with president obama, yes? >> yes. >> what do you want to say to him? >> i'm going to say to him, if i have the opportunity, i'd like to know why there is not one state in our country that has a curriculum in place to teach the history of 9/11, new york state
included, new york schools do not have to talk about 9/11. i'm confused how we can send young men and women out to fight a war but our young people know nothing about it. it's troubling to me. i think one of the key things, especially in our country here is education. we learned about the holocaust, learned about slavery and we learned the good. we're not learning about 9/11 and we're sending young kids out into the world without a background of what happened on 9/11? we have to go back many years to understand that. we can't be afraid to talk about radical islam opposed to good solid islamic people and there's so many more of them. we have to step up to the plate and educate. >> always good to see you. you're looking great. >> thank you. >> you're like working out, you're fit. geez, you could take me in an a second. >> we're going to talk with ed henry and mary snow coming up. details about what's happening inside, inside the firehouse where president obama is right now. let's go back to wolf in
washington. >> it's a dramatic day, i must say, anderson, as we watch all this unfold. i love hearing from all these firefighters, police officers, family members on this special day. certainly, it's going to happen again on the exact 10th anniversary of 9/11. that's coming up only in a few months. the president will be back in new york. the former president, george w. bush will be there. i'm sure bill clinton will be there. others will be there. this is a very special day, because so many people have been moved by the death of bin laden and the president, certainly, among them. we will go to that fire station, engine 54, ladder 4, this station where the president is inside right now meeting with firefighters, speaking with them, having lunch with them. our coverage continues in a moment. [ male announcer ] myron needed an mba to turn his technology into a business. so he chose a university where the faculty average
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going on. we're also waiting, once the president leaves there, he'll head over to ground zero in lower manhattan, not far away from the fire station. he'll lay a wreath at one of the surviving trees there and then he will meet privately with some family members. all of this is going to take place in the next hour or so. anderson cooper is on the scene for us over at ground zero. anderson, i take it we're getting more details of what's happening inside? >> reporter: yeah, we are. for that i want to bring in our own ed henry, white house correspondent, also mary snow who is at the firehouse. ed, what are you hearing about what's going on inside? >> you're right, anderson, there's a private lunch going on right now with the firefighters. they lost 15 at this firehouse on 9/11. jay carney said the purpose is to help the city, the country have some closure. that's what the president started doing. he spoke briefly before lunch, said this is a site of
incredible sacrifice at that fire house and you can't bring back the loved ones. it's a chance, a chance in the wake of osama bin laden, he said, when we say we never forget, we mean what we say. the president added as long as he's in office, these firefighters will have someone who in his words will always have your back. that's significant to what jay carney said, bringing closure to the city, the country as well. the fact the president has had a difficult relationship with the first responders, some of the 9/11 families who have been frustrated the administration wanted to bring khalid shaikh mohammed in for civilian trial in new york city. they scotched the plans in part bauds of outrage from the 9/11 families. it was a touchy subject when the president seemed to endorse the building of an islamic center and mosque near this site at ground zero. that caused a lot of heartburn as well amongst some of the 9/11
families. this is a chance for him to repair that relationship as well just bin laden. also he's walking a fine line, let's not forget. i saw buttons they were handing out near the site, selling on the street, that say mission accomplished may 1st, 2011. it's a loaded phrase. the president is fully aware, the mission is not accomplished yet. the war on terror goes on. we have 100,000 troops in afghanistan right now, anderson. >> mary snow who's at the firehouse. mary, the comments president obama made inside the firehouse, were those put -- there was a camera present we're going to get a tape of, is that correct? >> that is correct, anderson. we're going to get that after the president leaves. and just to pick up on something ed said earlier about not forgetting these firefighters. one told me this morning, he said this visit he thought was a real morale booster. and you know, earlier this week when i spoke with these firefighters, they said they had felt over the years that people
forgot about the 343 new york city firefighters who died on september 11th, and what they saw on sunday night after the news broke about osama bin laden, they said that they were grateful to see that they had not been forgotten, as people came and embraced them, physically embraced them in times square. just to set the scene for you here, anderson, i'm not sure if you can see these trucks. the area has been secured outside of the firehouse. there are ten sanitation trucks blocking the perimeter of that firehouse and sharp shooters are on the roof of the firehouse and other buildings as the president is inside eating lunch with about 18 firefighters inside. we got some details. they came out to tell us these firefighters have been preparing lunch all morning, that they were dining on eggplant
parmeson, scallops. >> the pride of mid-town. i'm sure president obama is seeing that pride. he was also shown a plaque inside the firehouse that honors the 15 firefighters from the firehouse who lost their lives. our coverage continues all throughout the day here from ground zero, from washington and all points in between. we'll be right back. hey, did you ever finish last month's invoices? sadly, no. oh. but i did pick up your dry cleaning and had your shoes shined. well, i made you a reservation at the sushi place around the corner. well, in that case, i better get back to these invoices... which i'll do right after making your favorite pancakes. you know what? i'm going to tidy up your side of the office. i can't hear you because i'm also making you a smoothie. [ male announcer ] marriott hotels & resorts knows it's better for xerox to automate their global invoice process so they can focus on serving their customers. with xerox, you're ready for real business.
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president obama honors the spirit of americans and pays tribute to the almost 3,000 lives lost in the september 11th attacks. i'm anderson cooper in new york. welcome to cnn newsroom's special coverage of the president's visit to ground zero. we also want to welcome our viewers around the world on cnn international, people watching in countries all around the globe, wolf. >> they certainly are. i'm wolf blitzer here in washington, d.c. president obama's visit comes just six days of he ordered the raid that killed the al qaeda leader osama bin laden. the architect of the terrorist attacks. we're standing by. the president right now is inside a fire station. he's having lunch with firefighters. he will then leave there. rudy giuliani, the former of new
york city, who was the mayor on 9/11, he's joined the president. he's there with the president right now. the president will lay a wreath at a memorial at ground zero and will meet privately with family member, survivors of some of those killed on 9/11. david gergen is joining us from cambridge, massachusetts. take us inside a white house on a day like this. it's an extraordinary day. since the death of bin laden, it's been an extraordinary several days. david, take us inside the decision-making process that leads a president to make this decision to go to new york. >> well, wolf, much of the focus in the white house, of course, almost complete focus, trying to get bin laden. that was a enormously complicated 24 intner agency
meeting. there comes a time wednesday you get the objective or something happen, inside the white house you begin to ask yourselves, how can we properly commemorate this moment? that's the right way to do it? coming to this site, 9/11 so analogous, going to pearl harbor and remembering world war ii and remembering those veterans, this is a way for the president to say, we keep our promises. we promised we'd remember you and we're doing that. just as important for this white house, wolf, as you know, has been a sense that getting bin laden was about keeping a promise to the world that we would do justice, that we would seek justice as we would not let him go unpunished. and what's in the white house right now is a very quiet sense of satisfaction that we have sent a message that we will keep our promises, we will be persistent and we have the reach and capability to keep our promises. they think that's very important message to send to the middle east and against al qaeda all
around the world. >> and we're looking at these live pictures from the site. security obviously very intense. we see some family members there getting ready. the president will be going there. he'll be laying this wreath, as we've been saying. talk a little bit, david, about the decision to have rudy giuliani, the mayor, the former mayor of new york, join the president inside that fire station right now. you see the president when he landed aboard marine one in lower manhattan. he's with him right now. this is something important because the former president george w. bush who was invited decided not to go right now. >> that's a very important point, wolf. they would have liked to had george w. bush there. they certainly understand. everybody understands the bush tradition as you know so well. the bush father and son both believe we only have one president at a time. he'll come back in september for the tenth anniversary. this was president obama's moment. he was the one who got him in
effect. but beyond that, rudy giuliani, you know, helps to bring back full circle because he became the face of 9/11, of a defiant america, of a america that was courageous in the face of adversity. and his leadership in that moment, you know, the churchillian quality that he showed was something that was so important to rally the united states in 9/11 and the leadership he showed once it followed. he never made it to the presidency, but he'll always be remembered as john king said earlier, as america's mayor. >> he certainly will. america's mayor, indeed. rudy giuliani, appropriate for him to be with the president of the united states in manhattan right now. david, don't go too far away. i want to bring in cnn's deborah fa fairic. she's been speaking with people. set the scene, deb, where you are right now. i remember you were there on
9/11 as well. >> reporter: that's right. actually, wolf, talking about that firehouse, engine 54, actually that's where i was on 9/11, and i remember i attended a press conference and the fire commissioner had come out and you could tell, his eyes were completely red and glassy. he came out and he said that 343 firefighters had been lost and nobody knew how new york city was ever going to be able to recover from that. and immediately we started going to engine houses all around the city and there was a sense of waiting and at engine 54, where the president is right now, i stood outside there. family members had begun to gather. i remember them closing the shades. the cars they had driven that day were standing out on the streets and there was this odd, it wasn't even odd, it was this white powder. it was debris from ground zero that had actually blown up more than 54 blocks. we're talking about three miles.
the ash all over the streets in manhattan. and i remember going to a second firehouse and the doorman was there and he was -- there was a doorman in a building next door and he was frantic and he said, we're waiting for them to come back, we're waiting for them to come back and nobody's coming back, nobody's coming back. the shock and the trauma that hit the new york city fire department on that day. they had to rebuild, they had to rebuild. they had to hire all new people. they just lost so much seniority on that day. that's the thing we here in new york remember. right now i want to bring in two young ladies. brienn mcnally and her sister, erin mcnally. these young ladies were 11 and 13 respectively on 9/11 when their father was killed in one of the towers. erin, 9/11 is your birthday and you asked your father not to go to work not they. >> i did. he promised to come back right after work.
he had to be there. he had people coming in for a business meeting. >> reporter: you were going to open your presents. he promised he'd be there. >> yes, he did. >> reporter: when he didn't come back, what was that like on your birthday? >> i knew he would have been there if he could. it was obviously very hard. i knew he'd be there if he did. >> reporter: you heard about osama bin laden's death. what does it mean to you? >> it's definitely mixed emotions because you definitely feel relief that somebody that represents injustice and cruelty that was responsible for the murder of my father finally the fact that he's no longer on this earth brings a justice to the situation. but at the same time, it brings up all these emotions from that day when i found out that he died and just knowing that my dad will never come back and it's hard to have that hole in your life and that will never be -- i'll never get full closure on that. >> reporter: when i spoke to the fire commissioner at the time, just a few moments ago, he said
that there's, for the families there's a sense of loss and grief and just unfulfilled that they can't make up that time. is that an accurate portrayal? >> yeah. because, i mean, they'll never be able to bring him back. that loss we've had to deal with and will always have to deal with will always be there. it's never easier. it does bring some sort of closure and justice to the situation, but it's never going to make it okay and it's never going to -- the situation will never be okay. >> reporter: you had wanted to go to meet with the president, but they limited the number. are you disappointed in that? >> i definitely would have liked to have been able to meet with the president. i understand the circumstances. it was last minute, high security and everything. but i mean, hopefully we'll be there on the ten-year anniversary this year and get to meet him then. >> reporter: thank you so much. we appreciate your staying and talking to us and sharing your thoughts with us today. wolf, anderson, that's some of the feelings today. the families at ground zero.
a couple of people who have been around the perimeter, waiting for the president's arrival. >> thanks, we'll get back to you. anderson, we have an amazing aerial shot of ground zero. i want our viewers to see it right now, because it really shows what's going on. elaborate a little bit, if you don't mind, anderson. the construction, the other night i was watching "ac 360." we heard a lot of noise. construction is moving. is it moving around the clock there where you? >> that's one of the really interesting things. it is literally around the clock. we were on the air at 10:00 at night. there were jackhammers all over in different locations going and took a break pat 11:00 and started up again. this is a 24-hour operation. for years there were a lot of competing interests, a lot of argument about what would be built over the designs of what would be built. a lot of discussions with family members, understandably. the man who owned the site, the
developer holds the lease, the port authorities and others. also those discussions have been sorted out. you really see construction going. the area we're on right now is actually the memorial area which is going to be dedicated in just a few months on september 11th of this year. behind me you can see the still being built museum which will be opened, if it makes on schedule, the following september 11th. there's also a number of towers. use to be one point called the freedom tower. that's no longer called the freedom tower. one tower is open. three other towers are being constructed. there's also reflecting pools in the footprint, if you will, of the former world trade towers. so a lot going on. we're going to show you more of it throughout the morning as our coverage continues. we'll be right back. lexus holds its value
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on the tarmac to greet the president when he arrived. got off of marine one. got off the helicopter. he will be heading down here to ground zero shortly where he will lay a wreath along with the members of the new york city fire department, the port authority, the new york city police department as well. mary snow is outside -- mary, is that the president leaving right now? >> reporter: that is the president leaving right now, and there are some people who have been gathered to wait for him to come out. a cheer going up. not a lot of people out here gathered outside. his motorcade has now just pulled away down the street. it's about 45 minutes, anderson, that he was inside the firehouse and now headed to his next location. as you know, he did speak, informal remarks, telling these firefighters inside, engine 54,
ladder 4, symbolic site of the extraordinary sacrifice made on that terrible day almost ten years ago. 15 members of that firehouse killed on september 11th, and between them, they had 28 children among the firefighters. these families still remain very close. after osama bin laden had been killed, in fact, they said they were on the phone for a good part of the day on monday calling these families, checking in with them. it's been a lot of mixed emotions for these men here. >> yeah. i know there's also inside that firehouse there's a plaque for the 15 men that i know that president obama was shown. there's also an area in that firehouse where not just the photos of the firefighters who have passed, but also notes from their children. as mary mentioned, 28 children have been left without fathers in that one firehouse, alone. i'm joined now at ground zero with john king. "john king usa." the president is on his way down
here now to lay the wreath. we're not sure if former mayor giuliani will continue to stay with him. we assume he will. >> we assume he will. that's a great sign of unity, a sign of a president -- the president of the united states when this mementos event happened, the killing of osama bin laden, side by side with the mayor who represented the country as a great city, a national figure, unifying, figure of great resolve after 9/11. that's a great image for the country. it's an interesting time. 9 1/2 frustrating years in the search for osama bin laden. there's a sense here, i think, you feel it, you've been here broadcasting live the last few days. when you talk to the family members, some of them have the sense of finally. some of them, it re-opens the wounds a little bit. i had a woman on the other night who was in the towers, she said, he tried to kill me. it stopped me in my tracks. it's an important moment.
replaying the way the president is doing without a formal speech is important. just to reflect and meet with the families. as ed noted, there has been tensions with the family from time to time. that's an important moment for the president. >> do we know where the meeting will take place? >> i don't know the exact location. they're invited to the wreath layi ining ceremony. in the past, president bush has been here in the past and done those kinds of meetings. exactly where i don't know. >> white house cameras will not be present. >> cameras will not be present. when you look around here, we don't want to show it, i covered the white house for 8 1/2 years. there's an extraordinary and ext extraordinary level of security. you have the president out in a public place that has not once, but twice, been the scene of a terrorist attack in the country. when you look around here, you can tell they're being extra, extra careful. >> let's go back to wolf in washington. a lot of cover.
we anticipate the president's arrival, well, very shortly, actually here. we'll bring it to you every stpn of the way, wolf. >> there's no doubt the president -- this is the first time the president will be at ground zero since he was elected president of the united states. he picked these days, let's remind our viewers in the united states and around the world why. because over the weekend u.s. navy s.e.a.l.s went to abbottabad, pakistan. they found osama bin laden and they killed him. and that ended to a certain degree a major, major chapter. the hunt for the world's most wanted terrorist. took almost ten years. now on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, that's coming up, there will be a very, very different tone because bin laden is now dead. we're going to go back to ground zero momentarily as soon as the president shows up there. he'll lay a wreath at the memorial. he'll later meet with the family members, surviving family members. our special coverage will
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he made short comments inside the firehouse. they weren't broadcast live. they were put on tape. we've just gotten the tape. we're going to play that for you now. >> but to the commissioner, to mayor giuliani, who obviously performed heroic acts almost ten years ago, but most of all to all of you, i wanted to just come up here to thank you. this is a symbolic site of the extraordinary sacrifices that was made on that terrible day almost ten years ago. obviously we can't bring back the friends that were lost, and i know that each and every one of you not only grieve for them but have also the last ten years
dealt with their family, their children, try to give them comfort, try to give them support. while what happened on sunday, because of the courage of our military and the outstanding work of our intelligence, sent a message around the world, it also sent a message here back home that when we say we will never forget, we mean what we say. and our commitment to making sure that justice was done is something that transcended politics, transcended party. it doesn'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. so it's some comfort, i hope, to all of you to know that when those guys took those
extraordinary risks going into pakistan, that they were doing it in part because of the sacrifices that were made in this state. they were doing it in the name of your brothers that were lost. and finally, let me just say that although 9/11 obviously was a high water mark of courage for new york fire department, and a symbol of the sacrifice, you guys are makie ining sacrificesy single day. it doesn't get as much notoriety or attention. every time you run into a burning building, every time that you are saving lives, you're making a difference and that's part of what makes this city great and that's part of what makes this country great. so i want to thank you from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of the american people for the sacrifices that you make every single day. and i just want to let you know
that you're always going to have a president and an administration who's got your back the way you have the backs of the people of new york over these last many years. so god bless you. god bless the united states of america. and with that, i'm going to try some of that food. all right? appreciate you guys. thank you. >> firefighters are speaking right now outside the firehouse. let's listen in. >> the president was nice enough to come to our firehouse today, engine 54, ladder 4, battalion 9, to share lunch with the firefighters. it was a wonderful gesture based on the news that we all got sunday night about osama bin laden's death. i think the president connected well with the firefighters.
he gave a little congratulations and thank you to the firefighters for what the firefighters and first responders did on september 11th and what the firefighters and first responders continue to do. he seemed generally very appreciative of what all the first responders do and he really wanted to convey that message to the first responder community. after we had a little greeting with the president, the 15 firefighters from the firehouse sat down, had lunch with president obama. it was a wonderful lunch. there was a lot -- it was a very informal lunch. the president was very much at ease, but still wanted everybody to know, again, how much he appreciated all the work that the first responders and firefighters do for him. so there was a little bantering back and forth. we had a very light, enjoyable conversation. at the same time, we're still remembering everything that's
going on. all the sacrifices that the military is making for us now. all the sacrifices that the families made on september 11th and continue to make in afghanistan and iraq. with all that in mind, we had a great conversation. a little bit of mets, a little bit of yankees, a little bit of white sox, a little bit of cubs. we think the president generally enjoyed his visit to the firehouse. we're extremely appreciative he was able to join us for lunch. >> what did the president say when he looked at the shrine of the firefighters who died? >> i think this firehouse symbolizes the sacrifices that were made by the firefighters and first responders in new york city. i think the world knows that to some degree. so for him to come here and to see the faces of the firefighters that were killed on september 11th and to see the shrine that was erected in their honor really meant something to him. i could see that the president was clearly touched by the sacrifices and by the stories that the firefighters told him.
>> how were the manners? were you ever worried -- >> i think the president put everybody at ease as soon as he walked in the door. he was a wonderful guest. mayor giuliani came with him. we have a relationship with mayor juligiuliani. that was a nice ice breaker as well. the firefighters were at complete ease with the president. he put everybody at ease right away. >> were you expecting him to be here this long? >> we knew he'd be here a long time. to see him take off his coat, sit back and relax and have a conversation was wonderful. >> what was it like to break bread and have the president of the united states eat your eggplant parmesan? >> it was, you know, once in a lifetime thing i guess, you know? it was pretty cool. he was a great guy. you know? >> what did he say to you? >> he just -- he loved his
shrimp, loved the veal. the eggplant parmesan. he was a really down to earth guy. sat down, like the chief said. everything was formal. we were just like hanging out be the rest of the guys at the firehouse. he looked like he liked everything. >> did you have anything you wanted to say to him? this firehouse has suffered a lot. >> no, we thank him for the recognition. coming by was really a spectacular thing. you know, we just wanted to tell him we take him for what he did on sunday, and all the troops and all, we want to let them know that we're with them every step of the way and god bless them, thank them. i mean, if it wasn't for them, you know, we'd still be chasing this guy. >> the burden is a little
easier? >> it's bittersweet. >> what was your favorite moment? >> this whole thing is great. it's just great. >> firefighters have to pay for their own meals. does this mean you guys actually took the president to lunch today? >> that's right. we were all invited to the white house for lunch. >> did he say he extended an invitation? >> no, just kidding. >> were you on duty on 9/11? >> firefighters? >> yeah, firefighter. >> what did the president say about not forgetting? >> as far as not forgetting, the president made it very clear that the firefighters, first responders have the administration's support. they won't forget us. they know the job we're doing day in, day out. there was a lot of links to the job the military are doing day in, day out. he made it very clear he supports and his administration supports the firefighters.
>> a longtime coming for a president to come and say such remarks to the firefighters. >> i think the administration has always demonstrated support for firefighters. i think under the, you know, because of the week's events i think it was very appropriate for him to come. they picked the site. they picked the visit. we didn't -- they decided this is the appropriate thing to do, them in the white house. they pulled it off and did it. >> even with the killing of osama bin laden, this house and this city and the country faces threats. this was the first house to respond to the times square bomber van. what are your thoughts today going forward even though we've had the killing of osama bin laden? what first responders like you and those across the country still face? >> the reason that the first responders, the firefighters and the police officers were able to figure out what was going on in times square was because of the preparedness and training that's been ongoing since september 11th. we're not going to stop that.
we're going to continue all of our training, all of our preparedness, continue to maintain a relationship with homeland security. we'll just keep our heads up and eyes open for anything going on. that won't stop. just as the military is doing their role oversea, we're going to do our role here right in town. >> did he say anything about the attack on osama bin laden with you all? >> he did talk about it and talked a little bit about what things were like in their strategy room there, but i think it was somewhat confidential and he just said that it was a tense moment for everybody in that room. you know, there was some very tense moments as far as the helicopter situation was, but he was very relieved and very happy as well as his administration that everything worked out. >> from your point of view, was ten years from the promise made on the pile to the fulfillment of that promise this past week, this past monday, i mean, what
did that feel like timely seeing the promise fulfilled? >> i think we have to thank president bush and president obama for sticking it out. for always staying focused. i know that president obama said we're going to get him. took a long time, took a lot of preparation, but they got him. so i think that ten years, one year, two years, ten years, it's done. i think it's wonderful that it's done before the tenth anniversary. so maybe the families might be slightly relieved leading up to the tenth anniversary. but it's important. it's done. now everybody has a job to move forward. >> is the burden a little lighter today? >> the burden for the families, i believe from the families i've talked to, is a little bit lighter. justice is probably the correct word. certainly not closure. i think the burden is a little bit lighter, but this is an ongoing thing. we have almost 3,000 families with a hole in their hearts. so we can never say that justice and comfort is completely there. >> what did the firehouse go through on 9/11?
>> how it made you feel to hear the words on thanks on behalf of the entire department that lost so much that day? >> i don't think the president could have been clearer or more sincere with what he said, which was most pleasing to us. he was as clear as he could be and as pleasant as could be. >> i just want to break away briefly. the president arrived at the first precinct in lower manhattan, nypd. see him walking inside. he's going to meet with new york city police officers, meet with port authority officers as well. you saw rudy giuliani still with the president, joining him on this very special day. the president first visiting the fire station, firehouse, now going to the lower manhattan first precinct for nypd. he wants to pay his respects to all of those first responders. the firefighters, the police officers, the port authority workers, others, who were so involved in saving lives as best as they could almost ten years
ago on 9/11. very emotional comments from the fire chief, edward kirlduff, in new york. anderson cooper is at ground zero watching this together with us. anderson, for the firefighters in new york, for the police officers, the first responders, having the president of the united states come to new york only a few days after bin laden was killed has to be such an emotional moment. >> absolutely. we saw the president, we now have the video of the president looking at the plaques that they have. just think about this. 15 firefighters from that one station died. that's an extraordinary number, and the plaques line a wall there that the president took time to look and read the names. also it's not just 15 firefighters. they left behind 28 children. and those firefighters who are now serving out of there continue to obviously have a relationship with those children and the family members of the firefighters who were lost. i'm joined by john king from jt
john king usa." the new york city fire department is a very close-knit group. i had talked to lee. his son was killed here. he was a firefighter. now his other son is also a firefighter. >> it is a family. it goes through the generations. in the midwest maybe you work in the auto factories. nypd, nyfd, there's generations of it. fathers, sons, grandfathers. this was a family wound. and to tell you, you know, it was uplifting to hear the chief and the other firefighters talk about how nice it was to have the president in there. at the same time, i felt my mood going back down. it's a reminder when you hear them speak of just the cold-blooded murder that happened on that day. and, you know, behind you were mentioning this earlier, this will be filled in pretty soon and the names will be etched in those stones and the reflecting pool here. it has a vietnam memorial look to it, the dark stones and the like. you begin to realize when you hear the first responders and are reminded of their stories
and the pain of why this needs to be a solemn day. yes, there are people out there saying thank you after 9 1/2 years, but at the same time when you continue the story and hear the personal stories, just, it brings you down. >> lee's son, john, who died here, who was a firefighter from rescue 2, everybody from rescue 2 who responded, who came to this site, perished here. it was just an extraordinary loss. >> and if -- hopefully this event, and people watching it, you know, we're a society that tends to want to move on, tends to want to forget the hard stuff. remembering the heroes of 9/11, the victims who were killed in cold blood trying to do their jobs and the heroes who came in. if that is part of what we discuss now as we also talk about the mission and bravery of the commando, it's good for the country to remember the heroism that happened in this city around the pentagon and on that day. >> there is new life blossoming here at ground zero. they've planted trees in the
memorial area, which is going to be dedicated in just a few months on september 11th. and 100 feet from where we're standing right now is where president obama is going to be laying a wreath. there's what they call the survivor tree or surviving tree. it's a pear tree that was on this site on 9/11, was damaged but taken to another location, nursed back to health, and has been brought back to ground zero for planting. just a remarkable testament to the changes that we have seen on this site and to the new life that's going to be born here as well. that's where president obama is going to be laying the wreath shortly. all of that, of course, we'll bring to you live. we'll be right back. ocid most calcium supplemts...
president of the united states is over at precinct 1, number 1 in lower manhattan, nypd officers, port authority officers. you saw this live picture. this is tape, just a little while ago the president arrived at the first precinct in lower manhattan. he's meeting with police officers right now. earlier, he met with firefighters in midtown,
manhattan, to pay his respects. he spoke movingly about what's going on. from this precinct, he'll be heading to ground zero to lay a wreath at the memorial there. this is a moment that the president wants to underscore precisely, precisely because osama bin laden was killed over the weekend. these are pictures that you saw earlier of the president over at the firehouse. he's now at this first precinct in lower manhattan and will be going over to the memorial at ground zero very soon. he'll lay a wreath and then he will go into a building nearby and meet privately with family members of those killed on 9/11. i don't think white house officials thought the president would be visiting this memorial, this ground zero site, before september 11th, the tenth anniversary. they were planning to be there then. the decision to go now was accelerated obviously because bin laden is now dead. we heard the president say at the firehouse, we will never forget, we mean exactly what we say. justice will be done.
cnn's candy crowley is watching all of this as well. she hosts "state of the union" on sunday mornings. when the president says those words, they're not casual. it's not just something he thinks about. he's been thinking about this for a long time. >> yes, and it's also not just a message about today or last sunday night. it's a message to, look, the world's still in turmoil. we're still looking at a big nato fight in libya. and it is a, you know, a recommitment or a restatement of u.s. resolve. and it may have taken us, you know, ten years, but we mean what we say. and if, you know, there's an assault on america, we go after the perpetrator. so, listen, that's a message you want out there. we talk a lot about how we're the last superpower on earth, which is certainly true militarily in many ways.
but the fact of the matter is it's been a frustrating ten years. that as much as -- everybody said democrats and republicans. bin laden's really not the problem now, he's symbolic. it's a big symbol. it's a huge siymbol. regardless of how intricately involved he was in day-to-day planning of anything, his departure means a lot. i was talking to an official that i know at the cia who said, listen, the good thing here is not just that he's gone, but that his departure sets up an internal fight in al qaeda. who takes over? who becomes the head? and that's also good. that you want them fighting one another. so there's plenty of reasons for this message to go out today. one of them because, you know, america wants it known across the world, and also it's a good time to begin watching al qaeda and what they're going to do now because their symbolic or not leader is gone. >> it's interesting, we're being
seen on cnn international around the world right now in addition to our viewers here in the united states. the president of the united states, his credibility around the world all of a sudden escalated in a major, major way. >> i think just to -- i wrote something on monday and said, he gets all the credit in the world because imagine if this had gone wrong. if this had gone wrong and the united states had failed in this mission and there was a shootout with the pakistanis, or we lost navy s.e.a.l.s in a house, in a suburb of islamabad, it would have all been on him. so this was a very good moment for him. the staying power of it, who knows, because lots of moments between now and re-election if you want to look at it politically. it's a great moment for him. i think also one of the things that i wrote about monday was, i think one of the reasons we saw the cheering in the streets and there was this sort of elation, let's face it, at the death of someone else who was shot inned
head, however evil, that the elation was it was a clear win. we spent ten years in these wars where we're not sure what v victory looks like and go to the either and don't know whether the backpack is full of something. you're supposed to report suspicious things. the world has become murky. this was a clear win. that clarity is what a lot of people were celebrating, that our guys got a bad guy. >> you're absolutely right. it took guts for him to make that call, go forward. some advisers say, too risky, don't know what's going to happen. >> don't know if he was there. >> you and i remember jimmy carter in 1979 failed desert one to rescue hostages in iran. what that did for u.s. credibility and did for jimmy carter as a result of that. this president stood up, said do it, they did it, and all the u.s. navy s.e.a.l.s came home. the president is inside of the first precinct in lower manhattan. you're looking at live pictures
there. he's meeting with police officers, new york port authority officers as well. earlier he met with firefighters in midtown, manhattan. anderson cooper is on the scene for us at ground zero. anderson, from this first precinct we believe he will head over to where you are for this wreath laying ceremony. >> yeah, that's right. the significance, just so you know, the first precinct, they were the first police officers to respond on 9/11. they did not lose any members of the police force from that precinct. one of their members was trapped, but he survived. they were the first to respond to the scene. president obama as you said, wolf, is scheduled to lay a wreath at the ground zero about an hour from now. he's been at the new york fire station meeting with emergency workers who rushed to the scene after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. he was at the firehouse where 15 brave firefighters were lost. we're joined by one first responder on 9/11, his name is
kenny specht, a retired firefighter, president of the new york city firefighter brotherhood foundation. kenny, i appreciate you being with us. when you heard that bin laden was dead, what went through your mind when you heard he'd been killed? >> well, i've been listening to a little bit of your show today, and i have to be honest with you that the american resolve to complete the task, we're not going to stop until the task is completed. took almost ten years, but it just goes to show the resolve of this country and the resolve of the military and honestly, anderson, the resolve of the american people. is it a -- did it take a long time? absolutely. i have to be honest with you, it's better late than never. the first thing that crossed my mind, i spoke to wolf about this the other night, first and foremost, anderson, i was pleased to hear not a single member of the military, the united states navy s.e.a.l. team, was even injured.
and to me, that was paramount. second to that was the fact that osama bin laden was dead. so it was really excellent news, to be honest with you. >> you know, some people use this word, closure, and it's a word i never really try to use because i don't think there is closure for people who suffered a tragedy like this. when you hear that word, do you feel closure? >> no. anderson, i have to be honest with you, ten years outside the trade center, the new york city fire department is still dealing with the repercussions of our actions down here. new york city fire department members are dying from illness and injury at a rate that's higher than the national average. closure for the new york city fire department, i don't know if it's ever going to happen. the same thing with the construction workers and new york city police department and people who spent a considerable amount of time on this pile, this toxic pile. the death of osama bin laden doesn't bring closure to those that are still dealing with the
illness and injury and like i said just a second ago, anderson, ten years later our ranks are still being decimated by serious illness and injury. closure is a difficult thing to get. i'm glad and i'm happy to see what's going on here today. it's important that the country celebrates what occurred, but it's also vitally important, anderson, we remain vigilant, remain on our game and realize unfortunately this war against terrorism doesn't end with the death of osama bin laden. >> and i know that's why you started the brotherhood foundation. you, yourself, have cancer from the site, isn't that correct? >> that's correct, anderson. 2008 i was diagnosed. >> what do you hope to achieve? >> we've been open for three years, three years this summer. we were on the forefront of the fight to get the bill passed which fortunately for members of the fire department and the police department and those
affected was passed right before almost the last day, anderson, for lack of a better term. what happened late in december getting this bill pushed and getting the work done. the bill was passed. that was vitally important to us at the foundation. now we continue the work of assisting ill and injured new york city firefighters when they have nowhere else to turn. i found it important they turn to somebody who knew what they were going through. somebody who knew what it was to be afflicted at a young age with a serious illness or injury. the new york city fire department, anderson, is all about brotherhood. i heard wolf and you speak about it earlier. we are a tight, close-knit community. sometimes the new york city firefighter will only call on another new york city firefighter to assist him. that's what i wanted to do. i wanted to be somebody they could go to ask for help and get help. sometimes we're embarrassed. sometimes we're afraid. and sometimes the only one we can turn to is another new york city firefighter. so yes, we are a close of knit community, but we always take care of our own.
we make sure to the best of our able when we roll out the door, out of a firehouse in the city of new york, that we come back the same way we left. together. everybody goes home to their families. and the brotherhood remains still to this day as strong as it was ten years ago. >> well said. kenny, i appreciate your time. thank you so much. >> thanks so much, anderson. have a great day. >> wolf, there really is no place like new york. and there's no folks like the new york city firefighters in this great city of ours, wolf. >> i know. you're a new yorker, anderson. you can appreciate it. i know a lot of new yorkers. they love the firefighters in new york. these last ten years, nearly ten years, has done wonders, the respect, the appreciation, the heroism that they show is something all of us appreciate. not only firefighters in new york, i must say, but indeed, all over the country, all over the world. they risk their lives for all of us. we deeply appreciate it. the president is on his way over to ground zero right now to the
memorial. he'll lay a wreath at the survivor tree. what's called. we just saw that wreath come out. the president will be there. it will be an emotional, moving ceremony. there's the wreath right there. they're getting ready for the president of the united states. he just met with police officers. earlier with firefighters. much more of our special coverage coming up. ♪ [ male announcer ] in 2011, at&t is at work, building up our wireless network all across america. we're adding new cell sites... increasing network capacity,
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and welcome back to ground zero. the president's motorcade has arrived here at ground zero. ed henry joins us now. ed, what are we hearing? you're getting new details about what went on inside precinct 1. >> reporter: that's right. it was a brief visit for the president. he was laying out a lot of what he said at the fire department visit, saying, look, when we say we never forget, we mean it. he noted as well he's now spoken to some members of military team that were able to kill osama bin laden. the president noted that these first responders had a role in all of this and that it was not just about the military team. that brought some applause from the police officers there. when the president's motorcade came not far from where we are, he's arrived at ground zero, there was a cheer that came out from the streets. a lot of people gathered here.
one of the firefighters they met with earlier, the fire chief said earlier the president really connected with those firefighters. what's significant about that, this white house got pretty annoyed with the media after the oil spill in the gulf. all the questions about whether the president emotes enough, whether he connects with people. in big moments like this, there's an expectation the president is going to rise to the occasion and maybe capture that moment for the american people. the president did that after the tragedy in tucson. even had some republicans saying that was a fabulous speech at that memorial service. other times he's maybe not met that. this is another opportunity for him. just as george w. bush did here at ground zero after 9/11, as bill clinton did after the oklahoma city bombing. it's an important moment for this president, anderson. >> ed, just for our viewers joining us on "cnn newsroom" and watching on cnn international around the world, explain what's going to transpire over the next hour or so. >> reporter: the president is going to be laying a wreath and we're expecting he will not make any public comments. that is just in remembrance of
so many who died here on 9/11. then he's going to go behind closed doors and for about an hour meet with about ten families we think of victims lost on 9/11. that's going to be shut off to cameras. when you talk to senior officials, they're walking a very fine line here. they don't want to look like they're exploit what happened on sunday night when osama bin laden was killed, don't want to look like they're politicizing it. we have an election coming up. as i was walking up to ground zero people were selling t-shirts and buttons on the street saying obama got osama. they don't want to get caught up in that. they want to capture the moment. they want to make sure when they're dealing with families, as the president noted at the police department when he made that stop, there are children who are ten years older who have grown up without parents because of 9/11. the last thing you want to do is look like you're politicizing it, anderson.
>> yeah, of course, ed, we continue to follow this as we watch the preparations under way. firefighters have been assembled. police officers, everybody waiting for president obama. we'll, of course, bring that to you live as it's happening. i want to bring in erin fisher, she's one of the many people who suffered a great loss on 9/11. she's the oldest of seven kids to a family who lost their dad. he was working in the port control room. erin joins us from our bureau in new york. erin, as we see the pictures, as we await the president, what would you like to say to the president today? >> i'd like to say that i appreciate his efforts, even though, you know, it's been a difficult journey for all of us. i think that it will go a long wa way, i really hope. >> when you heard the news about bin laden being killed, was it mixed emotions? was there a single