There was a sense of reunion among the dignitaries who gathered early Sunday morning in a fenced-off section of West Street in Lower Manhattan, as they prepared to help mark the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and the opening to victims' families of the national 9/11 Memorial.
The event brought thousands to the heavily fortified streets around the site of the World Trade Center, including President Barack Obama and his predecessor, former President George W. Bush. But the commemoration of the attack that forever marked a generation and an historical epoch for the nation also reunited many of those who were in power when it occurred, and who now find themselves out of the limelight. Down in the corridor between the white VIP tent and the metal barricades, the New York governor who greeted the early arrivals was a former one, Republican George Pataki, who was in office in September 2001. Arriving later, drawing as many quick-turned heads and flashbulbs as Mayor Michael Bloomberg, was Bloomberg's predecessor, Rudolph Giuliani. The current U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, enjoyed the sort of welcome from fellow politicians and from family members on the memorial grounds that she once had as the handily re-elected junior senator from New York, the one who had only just embarked on her public career's latest act when the terrorists attacked.