President George W. Bush saw firsthand the devastating results of Tuesday's terrorist attack on the two largest buildings in New York's financial district. The U.S. leader was seeing the altered New York skyline for the first time.
Mr. Bush took an aerial tour of the graveyard that the lethal attack created out of the World Trade Center before Marine One, the presidential helicopter, touched down at a New York city heliport.
The President then headed by car to an intersection at the epicenter of the destruction where he waded into a sea of rescue workers - firefighters, police officers, welders and steelworkers. More than 300 firefighters and dozens of police officers are missing and presumed to have lost their lives in rescue effort.
The president's meeting with the rescue workers was symbolic, sending them, and New York City, the support of the nation. But it also had an exceptionally personal tone. Mr. Bush did not make a speech. Instead, he shook hands with the workers and sent them the appreciation of the American people. The rescue workers responded to his brief message over a megaphone with chants of USA.
"The nation sends its love and compassion," said Mr. Bush. "Thank you for your hard work. Thank you for making America proud. And God bless America."
Mr. Bush told the workers the "people who knocked down this building will hear you soon."
During Mr. Bush's visit U.S. fighter planes periodically roared across across the silent skies over the United States' largest and busiest city.
The three area airports were open but only on a very limited number of airplanes were permitted to operate.
Before leaving for new York, President Bush authorized the activation of 50,000 reserve troops for domestic duty. And the U.S. Congress approved $40 billion in emergency assistance.