Every year, to remember those who lost their lives during the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, two light beams are shot into the sky. The picture is solemn, and serves as a chance for the nation, and especially New Yorkers, to come together to remember the horrible day. But this year, the light tribute is canceled because the coronavirus health risks “were far too great.”
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum said the decision to cancel the tribute was “incredibly difficult. Last week, the museum also canceled the annual reading of the names of those who died. Instead, there is a new plan, which is called the “Tribute of Lights.” This plan will instead have buildings in the city light up their spires and their front facades in blue. The museum said, “Many iconic New York City buildings will be lighting their spires and facades in blue to honor those killed on 9/11. The museum said this new plan will foster “a spirit of unity and remembrance,” and that “the city will come together for a ‘Tribute in Lights’ to inspire the world and honor the promise to never forget.”
In a statement, the museum said the decision was reached after “concluding the health risks during the pandemic were far too great for the large crew required to produce the annual Tribute in Light.” But New York City lawmakers were quick to criticize the decision. Joe Borelli, a City Council Member, said, “There’s a lot of fancy names on the board of the 9/11 Museum with deep pockets, but it’s a shame they lack the creativity & will to live up to their mission. First the ceremony, now this. An outdoor lighting crew can work without an elevated risk to COVID.”
Nicole Malliotakis, who is running for Congress in New York’s 11th district, said, “I do not support this decision and am greatly saddened by it. Too many traditions and commemorations are being taken away from us. In my opinion, this poses no greater risk than many of the other activities taking place on a daily basis.”
New York is currently in its fourth stage of reopening the state. The city was hit hard by COVID, with 23,610 deaths. But after a sharp decline in cases, Governor Cuomo is trying to methodically bring the city back to normal despite his fears there will be another spike. Schools are expected to open in the fall, and he has asked the most wealthy in the city to come back from their second homes.