City flooded with requests to attend 10th anniversary 9/11 memorial, scrambles to find space for allBY Alison Gendar
August 12, 2011
WASHINGTON - After making a list and checking it twice, City Hall now says this year's 10th anniversary 9/11 memorial may be open to more than just victims' families and a handful of politicians.
The city was snowed under with requests to attend this year's ceremony - from heads of state to ordinary citizens wanting to pay their respects.
Top priority always is given to the family of those killed.
Space was also set aside for President Obama - the first sitting President to take part in the yearly commemoration.
After reviewing security logistics and the room available, officials restricted politicians to those from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
That drew the ire of Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), who said the terror attacks were a national tragedy and a time to put aside regional or partisan differences.
"This is a powerful opportunity for all Americans and any member of Congress who represents them to come together in a show of unity and patriotism," Nadler said.
City officials said they would try to find a way to expand the welcome mat.
"We've had conversations with both House leadership and our delegation, and we expect the issue to be resolved shortly," City Hall spokeswoman Julie Wood said.
More politicians does not mean they get more of the spotlight, aides said. A small group of pols, including the President, will read poems but none will make a speech.
Since there is a cost for lawmakers to travel, House and Senate leadership would have to sign off to expand the list of those eligible to attend, congressional staff said.
"Obviously, I would like to see as many people from around the country accommodated at Ground Zero as possible on Sept. 11," said Rep. Peter King (R-L.I.) "Our main concern at all times, however, must be the family members whose loved ones were murdered on 9/11."
Another group left off the initial invite list were the police, firefighters and rescue crews who toiled at Ground Zero trying at first to find survivors, and then victims' remains.
Wood said the efforts of first responders would be recognized.
"As it has been for the past nine years, the 9/11 commemoration ceremony will be for victims' family members," she said.
"Of course, we understand the anniversary is meaningful to many other groups and we are working to find a way to accommodate them, either on the anniversary or other places and times," she said.
John Feal, an advocate for first responders, said while he didn't want to attend the ceremony, "There does need to be something for the people who gave so much working at the site."