By Steven Donald Smith
WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2006 – President Bush and first lady Laura Bush laid two wreaths today at Ground Zero, where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once soared into the New York City sky. The Bushes placed the wreaths afloat in separate pools of water meant to represent the "footprints" of the towers. The president did not speak during the solemn occasion, but he told White House pool reporters after the event that he and Laura are approaching tomorrow's fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, with heavy hearts.
"It's hard not to think about the people who lost their lives on September the 11th, 2001," he said. "You know, you see the relatives of those who still grieve -- I just wish there were some way we could make them whole. So tomorrow is going to be a day of sadness for a lot of people." Bush said being at Ground Zero reminded him that there's still an enemy out there who is intent on inflicting more damage on Americans. "I vowed that I'm never going to forget the lessons of that day," he said.
New York Gov. George Pataki, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani accompanied the president and first lady at ground zero.
Following the laying of the wreaths today, the Bushes attended a prayer service at nearby St. Paul's Chapel, where George Washington worshipped when New York was the capital of the United States. St. Paul's became a refuge for Sept. 11 first responders and victims' family members after the terror attack.
"Today at the church service I asked for God's blessings on those who continue to hurt," Bush said.
Tomorrow the president is scheduled to visit a New York City firehouse and then proceed to Shanksville, Pa., for a ceremony where one of the hijacked planes crashed into a field. He will then attend a wreath laying ceremony at the Pentagon.
The president also will give a nationally televised address from the Oval Office tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time.