Washington, May 5 : US President Barack Obama would travel to New York today to participate in a wreath laying ceremony at the Ground Zero there to mark the killing of Osama bin Laden, the White House has announced.
The former President George W Bush, who was invited for the event would not be attending it.
“Following the ceremony, the President will meet privately with 9/11 family members. During the trip, the President will also meet with first responders,” the White House said.
However, Obama will not make any statements on the occasion.
“The President thinks it's entirely fitting and appropriate to visit the site of Ground Zero in the wake of this significant and cathartic moment for the American people,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.
“He wants to lay a wreath to honor the victims, to honor the first responders who so courageously rushed to the scene and, in many cases, gave their own lives to try to save others; to honor the spirit of unity in America that we all felt in the wake of that terrible attack,” he said.
“He wants to meet with them and share with them this important and significant moment—a bittersweet moment, I think, for many families of the victims. And he thinks it's appropriate to do that in private,” Carney said.
The power of that requires no words, Carney said, adding that there was no debate internally if Obama should speak at Ground Zero or not.
“The President did speak on Sunday night and a remarkably large audience in this country, a remarkable number of Americans saw him speak because the word traveled so fast about this monumental event that had occurred,” he said.
Carney said Obama wanted to invite and did invite his predecessor George Bush because this is a moment of unity for Americans and a moment to recall the unity that existed in this country in the wake of the attacks on 9/11.
“He invited President Bush because he had hoped that if President Bush were able to come that he would join the President in visiting the World Trade Center site. We completely understand that he's not able to come, but the invitation was made in that spirit,” he said.
Bush is not coming for the event. “There's no plan for him to speak at the wreath-laying ceremony. His events with the families and first responders are in private,” he said. PTI