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An organization backed by conservative talk giant Rush Limbaugh that assists families of U.S. military personnel and first responders who have died in the line of duty will hold its own version of the 9/11 “Tribute in Light” ceremony after the official event was canceled.
“The ceremonial Towers of Light that shine from NYC in tribute to those lost on 9/11 are an iconic symbol of hope,” the Tunnel to Towers charity said in a statement.
“Because Tunnel2Towers is fully committed to the idea that we must NEVER FORGET, the Foundation is doing everything in its power to make sure that the Towers of Light will once again be illuminated,” the statement continued.
The Tribute in Light ceremony has been held in New York City every year since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that destroyed both World Trade Center towers. Nearly 3,000 people died when Islamic extremist hijackers flew loaded airliners into the twin towers and into the Pentagon. More people were killed when passengers aboard a fourth hijacked plane stormed the cockpit and forced hijackers to crash into a remote field in Pennsylvania.
“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, who noted that this year’s event has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
“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.
But Tunnel to Tower officials said the event was too important to skip.
In an interview with WCBS, the charity’s chairman and CEO, Frank Siller, brother to FDNY firefighter Stephen Siller who died trying to save people on 9/11 and whom the charity is named after, said that the organization’s display will be “almost identical” to the official version.
“It’s going to be a magnificent tribute to those who died,” he told WCBS. “We have already secured the lights, and by Monday or Tuesday we will have finished securing the location which is right down by Ground Zero.”
The ceremony features twin rays of light to signify the two collapsed World Trade Center towers as well as a reading of the names of 2,977 people who died that day.
The NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association announced Friday that the group would also hold its own version of the lighted tribute.
NYC Belongs to the People, The Lights Will Go On… pic.twitter.com/vaAmUbM1lV
— SBA (@SBANYPD) August 14, 2020
SBA President Ed Mullins, a frequent critic of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, slammed his administration’s decision to cancel the official tribute.
Mullins ripped de Blasio’s failure “to represent the people of this city with his inability to provide a viable alternative to this sacred annual event.”
“He allowed mass protests and riots in the city with no concerns whatsoever about the pandemic,” Mullins said. “The mayor won’t find a way to honor these heroes, but the SBA will pay tribute to all of the fallen victims by arranging for a Tribute in Light. A twin beam of light will shine on the evening of 9/11.”
As for Limbaugh and the Tunnel to Towers organization, last year the top conservative talker helped raise millions for the organization by selling a Betsy Ross flag-themed t-shirt following Nike’s decision to cancel the release of a sneaker featuring her circular 13-star American flag design. The charity used part of the money to pay off home mortgages for “fallen American heroes.”
Nike canceled the sneaker, which was designed to celebrate Independence Day, after receiving complaints about its patriotism from top company spokesman and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began on-field protests of alleged police racism during the playing of the National Anthem before games.
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