NYC’s annual 9/11 ‘Tribute in Light’ and reading of victims’ names canceled, say Covid-19 too risky

(Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

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The “Tribute in Light” ceremony held every year in New York City following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that brought down the twin World Trade Center towers has been canceled this year over concerns about COVID-19.

“The world’s beloved twin beams of light regrettably will not shine over lower Manhattan as part of this year’s tributes to commemorate 9/11,” said 9/11 Memorial and Museum spokesman Michael Frazier.

“This incredibly difficult decision was reached in consultation with our partners after concluding the health risks during the pandemic were far too great for the large crew required to produce the annual Tribute in Light,” he added.

Frazier noted that about 40 people work in close proximity to each other to set up the display each year, which prompted concerns about the potential spread of the virus.

Also canceled: The reading of the names of the thousands who died in the towers by family members. Rather, a recording of the names will be played instead, PIX11 reported.

Family members will still be invited to gather at the memorial plaza, which is located in lower Manhattan, but will be required to observe social distancing rules.

As for the lighted tribute, museum officials said they will partner with NYC & Company as well as buildings around the city to light up facades and spires in blue to observe the 19th anniversary of the attacks, which led to U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

“In a spirit of unity and remembrance, the city will come together for a ‘Tribute in Lights’ to inspire the world and honor the promise to never forget,” said Frazier.

Almost 3,000 people were killed when hijackers flew airliners full of fuel and passengers into the North and South WTC Towers the morning of Sept. 11.

Another passenger jet was flown into the Pentagon a short while later, while a fourth hijacked plane crashed into a remote field near Shanksville, Pa. The fourth plane, retaken by passengers who forced the jet down, was reportedly headed for the White House.

All four planes took off from east coast airports and were en route to west coast destinations. Two of them took off from Boston; one from Washington, D.C.; and one from Newark, N.J.

At 8:46 a.m. EDT, hijacker Mohammed Atta and the hijackers with him slammed American Airlines Flight 11 into the 93-99 floors of the North Tower. As NYPD and FDNY units responded, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card informed President George W. Bush of the incident as he read to children at a grade school in Florida.

Around 9:02 a.m. New York Port Authority officials who had initially instructed people in the South Tower to remain in place ordered everyone in both buildings to evacuate.

A minute later, hijackers flew United Airlines Flight 175 into floors 75-85 into the South Tower.

At 9:08 a.m., the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all flights taking off for New York City while closing the air space around the city as well.

Nearly a half-hour later, hijackers aboard American Airlines Flight 77 crashed their airliner into the western-facing facade of the Pentagon. And thirty minutes after that, United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania.

U.S. troops remain in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jon Dougherty

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