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Giuliani: 'We're still mourning ... we always will'

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani  

Editor's Note: CNN Access is a regular feature on providing interviews with newsmakers from around the world.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- New York is marking the official end Thursday to recovery efforts at the site where the World Trade Center once stood -- eight months and 19 days after terrorists hijacked U.S. commercial airplanes and crashed them into the twin towers.

Rudy Giuliani, mayor of New York on September 11, spent the last four months of his term helping the city get back on its feet. He spoke Thursday with CNN's Paula Zahn.

ZAHN: What does the ceremony [Thursday] represent to you?

GIULIANI: Well, it represents, I think, stopping and pausing and respecting and honoring the work that all those people did over the last nine months in accomplishing this Herculean effort in much less time than anyone had any right to expect on September 11 or September 12.

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It also honors the memory of the people who lost their lives there, all of the people who lost their lives there, who were just playing out the American dream in their own way. And all of a sudden, these horrific attacks took place.

And it also represents, I think, the American spirit -- that we were able to withstand this horrid attack. We're still mourning for the people that we love. We always will. But at the same time, I think we realize that America, and the American spirit, are stronger today than it was before this. And therefore, [the terrorists] have lost in the objective that they had to crush our spirit.

ZAHN: Does it just make your stomach turn when you hear portions of that intercepted conversation between al Qaeda members talking when they were planning the 9/11 attacks, and when you hear them say, "We are going to make a mess of things in New York that you can't clean up."?

GIULIANI: My anger, I can't possibly describe. Every time I've gone down there, from the first moment I was there until the last time I was there -- sometimes 12, 13 times, 14 times a day -- every time I go there, I feel this tremendous anger at what these people did to us, and the reality that there is absolutely no excuse, no justification that exists for this kind of horrific attack.

And then, you've got to take that anger, and you have to channel it into a commitment that this will never happen to us again, and that we maintain our spirit and we maintain our spirit as a free people and not let them affect us the way they wanted to affect us.

ZAHN: Let's talk a little bit about some of the lessons you learned pre-9/11 running the city, what you learned after 9/11. I know you're working on a book on leadership. What are some of the lessons you could share with Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg that could help all of us prepare for the possibility of another attack here?

GIULIANI: I think Mayor Bloomberg is doing everything he can to prepare for another attack. The main thing is exactly what you just said -- to be prepared. And it's the role of a leader to try to anticipate as many of these things as possible, realizing that you're not going to anticipate all of it. But to try to figure out what they're going to do to us, how they're going to do it and be ready for all that.

I think that's what the Bush administration is doing when they give us these warnings about attacks, inevitable attacks, possible attacks. All of that is an effort to try to say to everyone -- in the federal government, state government, local government -- we need more preparation. We need more thinking about what happens if there's a biological attack, a chemical attack. We need more systems, more antidote. We need to be ready for all these things.

And at the same time -- this is the most difficult part of this, and it almost seems contradictory, but it isn't -- as we prepare more, we have to get our people to relax more, and to make sure they don't let the terrorists take away our freedom of movement and our freedom of action. It's part of figuring out how to live in this world that we've now discovered, of terrorism.

ZAHN: I know you have some very strong feelings about what should happen at the World Trade Center site. I know you view this as solemn ground, as so many people do. What should be built there, if anything?

GIULIANI: It has to be a memorial. It's a burial ground. It's site of the death of almost 3,000 enormously brave people from all over the world, a large number of what I consider my police officers and firefighters and rescue workers.

And the reality is, it has to be a memorial -- a grand, magnificent memorial that will draw people there. I think a library, a museum that recounts the horror and the heroism of that day, and maybe also acts as a reminder to never let this happen to us again -- not to let down our guard and do everything we can to make certain that something like this doesn't happen to us again.




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