NEW YORK -- Mayor Bloomberg yesterday became the first major public figure to come out in favor of a separate memorial at Ground Zero for firefighters, police officers and emergency workers killed on 9/11.
And while the announcement - made as the mayor eulogized firefighter Michael Cammarata in Staten Island - was greeted with adulation by nearly everyone on hand, others were more cautious about building separate monuments.
"We must rebuild, but we must also remember those we lost," Bloomberg told a church filled with mourners including more than 200 firefighters.
"I personally believe that [the] memorial at the World Trade Center site must provide recognition to the firefighters, police officers and EMTs who, like Michael, fell saving the lives of others," Bloomberg said.
Gov. Pataki's staff took a measured tone in responding to Bloomberg's suggestion.
"The governor believes the memorial must reflect the countless acts of heroism performed by firefighters, EMTs, police officers and many others who were lost on that terrible day," said Pataki spokesman Joe Conway.
Pataki "also believe the specific design is best left to the creativity and inspiration to be provided by the thousands who are working on designs for the memorial and to the jury who will carefully review those designs," according to Conway.
A spokesman for the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which controls Ground Zero, agreed with Pataki.
Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta said he was "just delighted" by the mayor's announcement, but the head of the city's largest firefighters union was less than impressed.
"This goes to show the mayor's not wrong on everything," Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steven Cassidy said.
Cassidy remains livid over Bloomberg's aides' reportedly saying the union president didn't care about reopening firehouses because he dropped the UFA's lawsuit on the issue in exchange for last week's deal on firetruck manning. "Our deal on manning had absolutely nothing to do with firehouse closings," Cassidy said.
Still he said it is "tremendous that the mayor has acknowledged what firefighters and police officers and other emergency workers have wanted all along - that we be recognized for what we did that day."
"The truth of the matter is what [they] did that day was different and separate from everybody else," Cassidy added.