New York City’s annual light display in honor of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks has been canceled over fears of spreading the coronavirus, but a Black Lives Matter display was allowed to be painted by a large crowd of people in the city in July.
Officials at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum announced Thursday that the two beams of vertical light that have traditionally been set up in lower Manhattan would not be displayed this year because of fears that the novel coronavirus could spread to the workers needed to create the display, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“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,” Michael Frazier, memorial and museum spokesman, said in a statement.
Instead of the “Tribute in Light” memorial, buildings across the city will be lit in blue.
The annual live recitation of the names of the victims of the 2001 Twin Tower attacks and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing also has been canceled.
Instead, there will be a pre-recorded broadcast of 9/11 family members reading the names at the 9/11 Memorial plaza.
The cancellation of the event is ironic given the fact that just over a month ago, a large group of people, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, gathered outside Trump Tower to paint “Black Lives Matter”on the street in large yellow letters.
“Black lives matter in our city, and black lives matter in the United States of America,” de Blasio said at the time, according to The New York Times.
“Let’s show Donald Trump what he does not understand. Let’s paint it right in front of his building for him.”
The project was announced in June, with de Blasio’s spokeswoman saying, “The president is a disgrace to the values we cherish in New York City.”
However, the memorial was painted at a time when the spread of COVID-19 was more prevalent.
According to data from New York City health officials, there were 1,935 cases of the coronavirus in the city from Aug. 1-12. During the same time period in July, there were 3,827 cases — nearly double the cases in August.
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a nonprofit created in honor of fallen New York City Fire Department firefighter Stephen Siller, criticized the idea of not carrying on the name-reading tradition and announced the group would host its own reading near Ground Zero, the New York Post reported.
“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,” CEO Frank Siller 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 be limited to 140 speakers, and coronavirus-related safety precautions will be put in place.
“I’m very grateful to the Siller Foundation for stepping up and doing this, which will be such a comfort to the 9/11 families,” Sally Regenhard, who lost her firefighter son Christian during 9/11, told the New York Post.
“There’s absolutely no reason why the 9/11 memorial foundation made such a hurtful decision to prevent the families from reading their precious loved ones’ names.”
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