In a year in which the coronavirus pandemic has reshaped countless American rituals, nor has the commemoration of 9/11 escaped the changes.
The 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks will be marked by two acts, one in the 11S memorial square and the other in a corner near the World Trade Center, reflecting the division over the memorial’s decision to suspend the cherished tradition of family members reading the names of victims in person. Vice President Mike Pence is expected to attend both events in New York, while presidential Democratic wannabe Joe Biden would perform at the memorial ceremony in the square.
Trump and Biden pay their respects at 9/11 commemoration
President Donald Trump and Biden plan to attend a cropped ceremony at the National Monument of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania at different times. Trump will deliver a speech during a morning ceremony, while Biden will pay his respects in the afternoon.
In New York, the two beams of light that evoked the destroyed twin towers were about to be canceled in the name of security against the virus, until the outrage caused by the move caused a change of heart. The Fire Department has cited coronavirus to urge its members to stay away from acts in remembrance of the 2001 attacks in which nearly 3,000 people were killed, nearly 350 of whom were firefighters.
Some relatives say they understand that the act at ground zero has to change in a year when many other things have. Others fear that the pandemic is making clear what they feared was happening:
That the commitment to “We will never forget!” is fading.
“It’s another slap”, says Jim Riches, who lost his son Jimmy, who was a firefighter.
Riches will stay home on the anniversary for the first time this year, because he doesn’t want to take any chances with coronavirus after suffering from a previous illness. But he believes that others should have the option of reciting the names of the victims in the memorial square, rather than listening to a recording.
The monument’s administrators noted that they wanted to avoid close contact between readers, who usually flock to the stand. But for Riches, a fire battalion chief at the retreat and frequent critic of the organization, the decision sounds like an excuse to marginalize the role of relatives in commemorative events. “I wish they didn’t forget it, but they’re trying“, He says.
But Anthoula Katsimatides sees this year’s differences as an attempt to ensure that victims’ relatives feel confident in attending, including their mother, who has not left home since March due to health problems that have her particularly concerned about the presence of the virus. But she is determined to attend to honor her son John, who was a bond broker.
Although many events have been cancelled this year,
“this one was not cancelled. It was only changed in such a way that we can still pay tribute to our loved ones in a safe and respectful manner”
Said Katsimatides, who is on the board of the memorial. It stated that the variations were not due to anything other than the public health emergency.
“Who expected COVID-19? It was completely unpredictable. As was 9/11” he said.
This year’s plans have been an act of balancing the sites where planes hijacked and piloted by Al-Qaeda terrorists collided on September 11, 2001: New York, the Pentagon and a site located near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
At the Flight 93 monument near Shanksville, your traditional 90-minute ceremony will be shorter, partly because of the elimination of musical moments. The names of the 40 people who died there will be read, albeit by a single person rather than by several relatives, spokesman Katherine Cordek explained.