9/11 Family Invited To Presidential Ground Zero Visit Snubs Obama
(SUN SENTINEL) As 50 carefully selected families prepare to join President Barack Obama for a ceremony at the World Trade Center site Thursday, one of the invited 9/11 families have decided to pass on the Commander-in-chief’s visit.
Although many consider it to be a once in a lifetime invitation, the Vigiano family of Deer Park, Long Island have respectfully declined.
“If this form letter was the invitation, it was kinda lame,” John Vigiano told PIX 11 News when describing the email invitation sent to him from the White House.
Jan and John Vigiano received the email invite Tuesday and admitted that they nearly deleted it, thinking it was spam. The private invitation complete with the White House seal informed the couple about President Obama’s visit to the World Trade Center site just days after news broke about Osama bin Laden’s death.
What rubbed the Vigiano’s the wrong way was not what the email said, but how it was addressed.
“It says ‘Dear 9-11 family member,’ – no names” ” John Vigiano said, reading the invite aloud to PIX 11 cameras. “I don’t know if its disrespectful, but it doesn’t work for me.”
The Vigianos lost both their sons on September 11, 2001. John Vigiano Jr. was 36, and a FDNY firefighter, while their youngest Joe Vigiano was an emergency services detective with the NYPD.
“There is no closure,” a sobbing John Vigiano said. “There is none.”
The Vigiano family is just one of fifty families sent the exclusive invitation to meet the President at what is being billed as a historic visit to Ground Zero Thursday. With all that considered, the mourning father says he’s not going.
“I’m honored the President of the United States is coming to New York,” he said. “[But] to me its just going to be a photo op.”
Jeannie Evans, of Elmont, who lost her baby brother firefighter Robert Evans on 9/11 will also not be there Thursday. She wasn’t invited.
“I guess I feel lucky and leftout,” Evans said as she held a picture of her brother. “Its always a select few. Is it fair? No. We all have voices.”
Evans says she will probably watch Obama’s visit on television but wishes she could ask him a few questions.
“Why not show us proof, that Bin Laden was killed? I would like to see that,” wondered Evans.
Meanwhile, the Vigiano family insisted they mean no disrespect toward the President as John is a former marine and a retired Brooklyn firefighter.
“I got a call from the White House today apologizing,” he revealed. “Apology accepted of course. He is the President of the United States after all.”
In an email to Monica Morales, the White House said, “In consultation with the National 9/11 Memorial staff, we personally invited a group of 9/11 family members who we believe represents a cross section of family members from various 9/11 organizations. If that personal touch did not come across, it was only as a result of technological and time constrictions in pulling together such an important discussion on such short notice. The president looks forward to spending time visiting with the families of those who were tragically killed on 9/11.”