Updated from 12:48 p.m. EDT with information on President Barack Obama's visit to New York on Thursday.
NEW YORK (
) -- After rejecting calls to
, U.S. President Barack Obama quietly laid a wreath at Ground Zero in New York Thursday afternoon to honor those who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
"When we say we will never forget, we mean what we say," President Obama said.
The president also laid a wreath by the Survivor Tree, a tree that was damaged on 9/11 but was re-planted at the 9/11 Memorial Plaza last December.
He then held a private meeting with about 60 family members of those killed in the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.
Before heading over to Ground Zero, Obama visited Engine 54 firehouse, which lost 15 men on Sept. 11. He thanked the firefighters at the house and honored a bronze memorial plaque commemorating the men,
Obama and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke with the firefighters at the fire house over lunch on Thursday.
"The president connected well to the firefighters," said Chief Edward Kilduff of the New York Fire Department. "We're extremely appreciative the president was able to join us for lunch."
Before departing to make his way over to Ground Zero, Obama vowed his loyalty.
"You will always have a president who's got your back," he told the men.
The government had been considering releasing an image of Bin Laden's dead body to further confirm his death, following reports of skepticism from around the world.
However, U.S. officials ultimately decided to hold onto the photos.
Obama speaks to firefighters and first responders at Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9 before visiting the National Sept. 11 Memorial at Ground Zero in New York on Thursday.
"We don't trot out this stuff as trophies," Obama told Steve Kroft in an interview on
"60 Minutes." "That's not who we are," Obama said.
Obama also said he wanted to make sure that "very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence, or as a propaganda tool."
In addressing skepticism regarding Bin Laden's death, Obama said, "You will not see Bin Laden walking on this earth again."
Obama invited President George W. Bush to join him at the ceremony at Ground Zero Thursday, but the former president declined.
-- Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston.
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