Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s memorial ceremony honoring victims of the 9/11 attacks won’t feature family members reading victims’ names as has been done in past years.
What We Know:
- Every year, family members of the nearly 3,000 victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack read the names of their loved ones at the annual memorial ceremony. However this year, the names will not be read by families outside the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York “out of an abundance of caution” during the coronavirus pandemic, organizers said. The televised hourslong event will instead be replaced by a recording of a reading of the names from the museum’s “In Memoriam” exhibition.
- An email sent from the museum staff to victims’ families said other plans for the ceremony were still underway to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the attacks. “Our hope is to gather on the Memorial plaza, adhering to state and federal guidelines as they relate to social distancing and public gatherings,” the email said.
- The outside memorial and the museum closed back in March due to the pandemic and so far only the memorial has reopened. If the museum reopens by then, families will have exclusive access to the museum on September 11 as in previous years.
- “Around the world, people are responding to the COVID-19 crisis with compassion, generosity, and a sense of community, much like they did in the aftermath of 9/11,” National September 11 Memorial & Museum President and CEO Alice M. Greenwald wrote in the email to families. “These expressions of connection and empathy give us a sense of hope, even in the face of shared grief.”
- The decision has received mixed support and criticism from families. FDNY retired Lieutenant Jim McCaffrey, whose brother-in-law, Battalion Chief Orio Palmer, was killed on 9/11, is one who is glad the tradition can and will continue in some form despite the current pandemic. “It won’t be the same, but at least the names will be mentioned,” McCaffrey said. “This was an attack on America. People need to remember that. So many people have already forgotten the sacrifice exhibited that day.”
The program will begin on September 11 at 8:30 a.m. and still plans to observe six moments of silence, commemorating the exact time each of the World Trade Center towers was struck and fell, the attack on the Pentagon, and crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.