Fifty families were carefully selected by President Obama to attend a special ceremony at Ground Zero this week marking the location and the killing of 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden. However, one family decided to pass on the President’s invitation.
Jan and John Vigiano, who lost both of their sons during the attacks on the World Trade Center, received an e-mailed invitation from the White House May 3. One son was a NYFD firefighter; the other was an NYPD police detective. They told New York television station WPIX that they nearly deleted the message believing it was spam.
However, once the Vigiano’s opened the letter, they saw something that they believe was impersonal.
“It says ‘Dear 9-11 family member,’—no names,” John Vigiano told WPIX. “I don’t know if it’s disrespectful, but it doesn’t work for me.”
“I’m honored the President of the United States is coming to New York,” he continued. “But to me it’s just going to be a photo op.”
The Vigiano’s sentiments weren’t shared by everyone who was invited. Sally Regenhard, whose son Christian also died during the attacks, had a different message for Obama.
“I want to say thank you very, very much for what you did,” Regenhard told The Chicago Sun-Times. “You surpassed our greatest hopes and expectations.”
Meanwhile, 10-year-old Christopher Cannizzaro, whose father was killed in the attack, got to meet and talk to the President and said it was great experience.
“He said it was an honor to meet me,” Cannizzaro told USA Today. “It was just amazing.”
The Vigianos said they hold no ill-will toward Obama, and have received an apology from White House officials—an apology that was accepted. They did not attend, however.