ON the 19th anniversary of 9/11, many ceremonies honoring the efforts of first responders and the 3,000 American lives lost will look much different than they have in the past.
While so much of the country is still grappling with coronavirus, US cities are still dedicated to honoring the lives lost at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania during the 2001 attacks.
However, many of those ceremonies will look quite a bit different.
In New York City, for example, where a ceremony featuring relatives reading the names of victims in person usually takes place, there will be two different ceremonies.
One ceremony will be held at the 9/11 Memorial plaza and one will be held on a corner near the World Trade Center.
Names of those lost will still be read out, but they will be pre-recorded.
Victims' families can also still gather at the memorial, but they will be spread out across the grounds to ensure social distancing.
Despite the fact that nearly 350 heroic firefighters lost their lives responding to the terrorist attacks, the city's Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro urged current firefighters to not participate in the observances, citing virus risks.
The department did hold a limited-attendance ceremony on Wednesday to add names to a memorial wall recognizing members who died due to exposure to toxins in the air in the aftermath of the attack.
The double beams of light that are typically sent up in the place where the Twin Towers used to stand a few days prior to the 9/11 anniversary were almost canceled this year as well over virus concerns.
The decision quickly sparked major backlash.
Memorial officials were able to arrange a deal to get The Tribute in Light the go-ahead, and the beams began shining last week.
The family members of some victims worry that the shuffling, or outright canceling, of memorial events may be a sign that people are slowly forgetting about the terrible loss the nation suffered 19 years ago.
"It's another smack in the face," Jim Riches, who lost his firefighter son named Jimmy in the attacks, told The Associated Press.
Riches said he is staying home for the anniversary for the first time because he doesn't want to take the chance of getting exposed to the virus due to health issues.
However, he feels that others should have the option of reciting the names of lost loved ones on the anniversary.
Riches said the decision from memorial leaders to do away with the normal procedures seems like a way for them to remove families from the commemoration events.
"I wish they wouldn't forget, but they're trying to," he said.
The Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania – which President Donald Trump and Democratic opponent Joe Biden are both expected to attend – is also doing away with family members reading names.
Memorial spokeswoman Katherine Cordek said the names of the 40 people who died there would be read, but by one person instead of several family members to limit social contact.
The ceremony at the Pentagon will be conducted by military leaders and will be held without victims' families in attendance, and the names of those lost will be recited by a recording there as well.
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