Obama visits NYC's Ground Zero
Updated: 2011-05-06 06:51
NEW YORK - US President Barack Obama planned to honor victims of the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on Thursday by laying a wreath at the site of the World Trade Center, where slain terrorist Osama bin Laden changed the course of history in a day of carnage that shook the United States and killed nearly 3,000 people.
Just days after US Navy SEALs stormed bin Laden's palatial hideout in Pakistan, killing him with a bullet to the brain, the president traveled to New York for what was to be a somber ceremony of remembrance.
Yet the White House stressed on Wednesday that this was not a victory tour, but a form of homage to the victims of the attacks that triggered Washington's controversial, global war against al-Qaida nearly a decade ago.
Calling the death of bin Laden a "cathartic moment for the American people", White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama wanted to "honor the spirit of unity in America that we all felt in the wake of that terrible attack".
His wreath was laid in remembrance of the hundreds of firemen and others killed trying to rescue people from the collapsing Twin Towers.
Carney said Obama was scheduled to meet in private with families of the victims and first responders "and share with them this important and significant moment, a bitter-sweet moment, I think, for many families of the victims".
The killing of the United States' nemesis in such spectacular fashion - during a helicopter-borne commando raid deep inside Pakistan - is undoubtedly one of Obama's chief political triumphs since taking office in 2008.
Polls showed an immediate surge in support and even the usually squabbling Washington political establishment has rallied around the president.
But the White House appears serious about its declared intent to avoid triumphalism or the temptation to exploit the event for electoral gains.
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