September 26, 2001 11:23 AM

On her first visit to New York City since the Sept. 11 attacks, first lady Laura Bush visited P.S. 41 elementary students who’d been forced out of their school and a firehouse that had lost 15 firemen, about half of its force. She left a bouquet of sunflowers tied with red, white and blue ribbon, and signed the journal outside the firehouse: “To the firefighters of Battalion 9, You showed the world that honor and bravery are alive in New York City. Thank you for being heroes. God bless you, Laura Bush.” Earlier Tuesday, she spoke at Madison Square Garden to hundreds of volunteers from public schools around the city. She said some had been “cool-headed heroes,” guiding children from schools near the World Trade Center to safety. During a question and answer period, reports the Associated Press, a youngster raised his hand and said to the first lady, “I knew you were from Texas because you have a funny accent.” “Well, I thought you were from New York because you have one, too,” the first lady replied. “Just kidding,” she added with a grin.

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