A light tribute that commemorates those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks will not take place this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials announced this week.
The “Tribute in Light,” which sees twin beams of light echoing the shape and orientation of the Twin Towers shine up to four miles into the sky over Lower Manhattan in New York City, will not shine this year, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum says on its website.
“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,” it said.
“We hope to resume this iconic tribute for the 20th anniversary.”
Instead, the museum and memorial is partnering with a city agency and building owners throughout the city. Buildings across the Big Apple will light up their facades and spires in blue to commemorate the 19th anniversary of 9/11.
The anniversary commemoration at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum usually includes a large crowd that reads off the names of victims of the tragedy, but that will also not take place.
“No matter how we looked at this situation, we came to the same conclusion. Public safety must come first, and that necessitates changes to this year’s program,” the memorial and museum said in a statement.
Instead, recordings of family members reading the names will be broadcast via speakers while relatives who feel comfortable attending can stand or sit and listen, as long as they follow social distancing guidelines.
An alternative ceremony is being held by the Tunnels to Towers Foundation that will feature the reading of names.
“We have tremendous respect for the 9/11 museum and its leadership. However, not allowing families the opportunity to read the names of their loved ones robs this solemn ceremony of much of its significance,” Frank Siller, the foundation’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement.
“That is why we are committed to safely giving these families a chance to honor and remember their loved ones in their own voices.”
The ceremony will take place adjacent to Ground Zero.
Organizers are providing masks to attendees and social distancing guidelines will be enforced. The number of speakers is being limited to 140; they will be determined by lottery.