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Welcome, Mr. President

Trucks blocking Pitt Street
by Nate Eckstrom

At 7:48 this morning the President’s motorcade passed by the U.N. building on its way to the Pitt Firehouse on Grand Street. President Bush has eschewed his customarily quiet observance of the anniversary of one of America’s greatest tragedies, and instead embarked on a two-day tour of the three 9/11 disaster sites. Yesterday, he was at Ground Zero itself to lay wreaths in the reflecting pools there, and then at St. Paul’s Chapel for a service of remembrance. This morning, he will visit the Pitt Firehouse for breakfast with fire fighters, city police and Port Authority officers.

The officers lining Grand Street this morning at about 7am explained only that it was “for the President, 9/11.” Obviously, security would dictate that little more than that would be offered. Further uptown, at 42nd Street and First Avenue, I was stopped on my bike, along with a crowd of other anxious workers-to-be and told that He was coming. He being the President, or as one of the thick procedural manuals lying on the dashboard of a police car put it, the P.O.T.U.S. After several minutes of neck-craning and explaining to recently stopped pedestrians, the first flashing lights appeared, coming the wrong way down First Avenue. I would estimate more than fifty cars, motorcycles, vans, SUVs, etc. poured down the avenue, banking left down 42nd Street towards the FDR. Somewhere in there, according to the officers, was the President.

Most of the people waiting at 42nd Street seemed slightly annoyed, but generally accepting that all this security was worth the President’s visit. Similar to his dramatic visit just days after the attacks in 2001, this visit gives a degree of assurance to the people of New York that they are not alone in facing the threat of violence. The fact that parking was suspended for two days on Grand and Delancy Streets seems like a very small annoyance compared to this greater benefit. The crowd of people at 42nd Street and First Avenue this morning were a few minutes late to work, but will certainly be able to concentrate more easily at their desks knowing that the President is also at work in the city.


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