"I wanted to just come up here to thank you," Obama said in prepared remarks, after eating lunch with firefighters and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. "This is a symbolic site of the extraordinary sacrifice that was made on that terrible day almost 10 years ago."
The president visited with members of Fire Engine 54, Battalion Nine, which lost 15 men after al Qaeda hijackers flew two commercial airliners into the World Trade Center's twin towers.
"Obviously we can't bring back your friends that were lost," he said. "I know that each and every one of you not only grieve for them, but have also over the last 10 years dealt with their family."
The men of Engine 54 left behind 28 children, collectively.
The meetings with firefighters were private exchanges during which the president sought to mark an end to the near decade-long hunt for the Qaeda leader, officials say.
"It was a wonderful gesture, based on the news that we got of Osama bin Laden's death," New York Fire Chief Edward Kilduff told reporters.
"For him to come here to see the faces of those killed in 9/11," Kilduff said, referring to photographs that hung inside the firehouse of the men who died, "I think it really meant something to him."
Obama Visits Ground Zero; Honors 9/11 Victims - CNN
The Meck Report / Blog - May 5, 2011 - 4:05p