Obama visits NYC firehouse, police station
NEW YORK — President Barack Obama visited a New York City firehouse that suffered grave losses on 9/11, then dropped in on a police station not far from the World Trade Center site before paying his respects Thursday at ground zero.
Obama arrived under tight security at the midtown Manhattan headquarters of Engine 54 and Ladder 4. Bronze memorial plaques hang in the garage honoring the 15 men of the two companies who died on 9/11, giving it the steepest losses of any firehouse in the city.
The president spent about 50 minutes in the building, sharing with the firefighters a meal of eggplant parmesan, mesclun salad and a shrimp and scallops dish.
He said he came to give thanks to the first responders who sacrificed so much on 9/11, and to pass along the message that the Navy Seals who killed Osama bin Laden did it, in part, in honor of the dead of the FDNY and NYPD.
“It was a wonderful gesture,” Chief of Department Edward Kilduff said after the visit.
Firefighter Joseph Ceravolo, who cooked the meal, said Bin Laden’s death was a “bittersweet” victory for a department that lost so much in the terror attacks. He said he was grateful for a chance to thank the president and the armed forces.
Afterward, Obama stopped at Manhattan’s First Precinct stationhouse, whose officers were among the first wave of responders to reach the trade center on 9/11.
For some of the officers, the week’s events were a somber reminder of the past — and a chance to move on.
“Every day is a memory of that day,” said Emergency Services Unit detective Steven Stefanako. “The difference now is we have an end, which means we can have a new beginning, a chance to move forward past this.”
© Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.