President Bush Declines Invitation to Appear at Ground Zero

Although 9-11 defined George W. Bush's presidency, he chose not to make a public appearance at Ground Zero with President Obama to celebrate Osama bin Laden's death. INSIDE EDITION reports.

It's one of the most iconic moments from 9-11.

"The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!" President Bush told a crowd at Ground Zero; at his side was ex-firefighter Bob Beckwith. It became an instant symbol of the nation's resolve.

Bob Beckwith returned with INSIDE EDITION to Ground Zero. He's now 79.

"Everyone remembers that photo of you and President Bush, his arm around you, and he says, 'We're going to get him,' " INSIDE EDITION's Megan Alexander told Bob Beckwith.

"And we did. It took awhile, but we got him!" said Beckwith.

"What was your reaction when you heard Osama bin Laden had been killed?" Alexander asked.

"I said I wonder who got him, and I found out it was the Navy SEALs that got him, and being an old Navy man myself, I was very proud," Beckwith said.

George W. Bush's visit to Ground Zero helped define his presidency. But he's turned down an invitation from President Obama to join him there to meet the families of 9-11 victims.

"[George W. Bush] appreciated the invite, but has chosen in his post-presidency to remain largely out of the spotlight," said Bush's spokesman. "He continues to celebrate with Americans this important victory in the war on terror."

Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin writes, "I wish President Bush would reconsider."

But others, like The View's Whoopi Goldberg, say Bush is being gracious by not detracting from Obama's big moment.

"I think President Bush declined because he wanted Obama to have this moment. I have to commend the man," she said.

Politics aside, Beckwith hopes the nation comes together after the death of the terrorist behind 9-11.

"Everybody's in the same boat here, let's stick together through thick and thin, this is America," he said.