Remembering 9/11 amid pandemic and presidential campaign

Roses+laid+out+in+memory+of+Sept.+11+victims.+Family+members+gathered+to+honor+their+loved+ones+on+the+19th+anniversary+of+the+attacks.+Photo+credit%3A+Ben+Hider+%26++9%2F11+Memorial+%26+Museum

Courtesy of 9/11 Memorial and Museum

Roses laid out in memory of Sept. 11 victims. Family members gathered to honor their loved ones on the 19th anniversary of the attacks. Photo credit: Ben Hider & 9/11 Memorial & Museum

Eileen Osuna, Staff Writer

America commemorated 9/11 last Friday, which marked the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

With COVID-19 safety precautions in place, several memorials and tributes were held throughout New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania, where nearly 3,000 people tragically lost their lives after four commercial airplanes were hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, PA.

In New York, mourning family members assembled at the Ground Zero memorial plaza where the event was different from past years, as stages were swapped out for hand sanitizer stations, the names of fallen victims pre-recorded by family members were played, groups were safely spread out on the plaza and bells rang complete with honor guard to signify each of the three attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

From 3 p.m. to midnight, other members of the public were allowed to gather at the grounds while the 9/11 Memorial and Museum opened for family members on that same day and the general public on Saturday with the requirement of timed tickets and social distancing rules.

Nearby at a corner in Lower Manhattan, an unofficial Tunnels to Tower event featured the victims’ names read aloud by participants in opposition to the memorial’s decision to change the traditional format due to concerns over COVID-19.

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, as well as Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his wife Jill, were in attendance and greeted each other by bumping elbows.

Pence shared a prayer from Psalm 23:1-6 and from the Book of Ecclesiastes at the Tunnels to Towers event while Biden offered condolences to an emotional Amanda Barreto, who was in the crowd to honor her fallen aunt and godmother.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon observed the day with a speech from Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, who said they “honor and remember the numerous acts of heroism and personal courage that prevented the human toll from becoming much, much worse.” Although the families of victims were not allowed on the grounds for the observance, they were able to visit the memorial later that day.

Lastly, President Donald Trump and Biden appeared at the Flight 93 National Memorial ceremony near Shanksville where the names of the 40 passengers and crew members that died on Flight 93 were read out.

 

Trump delivered a speech before the small crowd at the ceremony and said it was everyone’s duty to carry on the “noble legacy of the brave souls who gave their lives for us 19 years ago.” Moreover, Biden met with family members of the victims and laid a wreath of white flowers at the memorial.

 

Softening the festivities, the Daily News revealed last Thursday that the Trump administration has siphoned nearly $4 million from the New York City Fire Department’s fund that provides healthcare to first responders who have suffered from a range of illnesses as a result of exposure to dust and smoke from the Sept. 11 attacks.

Although it has been an exhausting and draining year, America kept its promise to never forget.