Friday is the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks and tributes marking the event in the US kicked off with a remembrance ceremony, families, the politicians, and the bagpipers gathered once more at ground zero.
Though the coronavirus pandemic has upended traditions, customs, and annual events — big and small.
In a statement made by the secretary of the State Michael R. Pompeo, he said: ” Today, we remember and honor the nearly 3,000 people who were killed in the terrorist attacks in our country 19 years ago on September 11.
We have made great strides to defeat al-Qa’ida and other terrorist groups that seek to do us harm, and our efforts to protect our homeland continue today. The men and women of the U.S. Department of State are proud to stand side-by-side with partners from all over the world in this effort, and we will not waver in our resolve to hold terrorists accountable as we pursue peace, security, and justice.
Today, we join with people across the globe in remembering the victims of 9/11. Those who were lost will never be forgotten. We continue to pray for guidance, wisdom, and protection for the men and women in uniform who fight each day to guard the world against terrorism, and we pray for the families whose loved ones were lost nineteen years ago.”
Meanwhile, tensions over anniversary plans flared anew when the memorial announced last month it was nixing the Tribute in Light, twin blue beams that shine into the night sky over lower Manhattan. While there’s no official gathering to view the lights, the memorial cited virus risks to the installation crew.
The cancellation outraged some victims’ relatives, police and fire unions, and politicians, who noted that construction sites around the city were deemed safe to reopen months ago. After the Tunnel to Towers foundation said it would organize the display on its own, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the memorial’s billionaire chairman, stepped in to keep the memorial-sponsored lights on.
Tunnel to Towers is also now stationing lights at the Flight 93 memorial and the Pentagon.
Memorial President Alice Greenwald later said the organization “should have approached this issue differently.”
Still, the memorial’s moves fanned mistrust among some 9/11 victims’ relatives who wonder how long the name-reading and other observances will continue.
Katismatides, the board member, foresees the ceremony returning to normal next year.
Debra Epps has been to the ground zero ceremony every year for the anniversary. She said it means a lot to her to read names and add a few words in tribute to her brother Christopher, an accountant.
Still, she thinks the memorial was right to forgo the live name-reading this year. The virus has her concerned enough that she’s not planning to attend.
“It really is a hard decision to make, but I know that we’re still in this pandemic,” said Epps, who works in health care.
— Ben Tracy (@benstracy) September 11, 2020
Mourners gather at the @Sept11Memorial to observe remembrance ceremonies for the fallen in the #September11 terrorist attacks, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in #NYC. I’m so grateful to call this town home and do this job. 📸/me @AP_Images pic.twitter.com/YZkILbrO2T
— john minchillo (@johnminchillo) September 11, 2020