A charity organization announced Friday it would take charge of the annual light show in New York City meant to honor 9/11 victims after officials canceled the usual plan out of coronavirus concerns.
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a charity honoring firefighter Stephen Siller who died during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, said it would do “everything in its power” to ensure that the annual light show continues this year.
Typically, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum sponsors “Tribute in Light,” a public art installation that projects twin beams up to 4 miles into the sky each Sept. 11. The lights resemble the shape and orientation of the Twin Towers, which collapsed during 2001 attacks.
But museum officials announced Thursday that they could not safely put on the beloved tradition this year, citing health risks.
“This incredibly difficult decision was reached in consultation with our partners after concluding the health risks during the pandemic were far too great for the large crew required to produce the annual Tribute in Light,” according to a statement on the museum’s website.
Instead, the memorial and museum said it planned to conduct “Tribute in Lights,” partnering with NYC & Company and iconic buildings throughout the city to light them up in blue to commemorate the 19th anniversary of 9/11.
In another annual tradition, speakers typically read aloud the names of all 2,977 people killed in the attacks at Ground Zero, the site of the former Twin Towers. Museum officials announced that they would instead play a recording of the names, WABC-TV reported.
“This decision is difficult to understand,” Congressman Max Rose, a Democrat from New York, tweeted after the museum’s announcement. “These lights have become a painful, but beautiful tribute and are part of upholding our promise to never forget those we lost. The 9/11 Memorial Foundation should reconsider.”
This decision is difficult to understand. These lights have become a painful, but beautiful tribute and are part of upholding our promise to never forget those we lost. The 9/11 Memorial Foundation should reconsider. https://t.co/Iwi1IGSsSb
— Max Rose (@MaxRose4NY) August 14, 2020
But Tunnel to Towers proposed a solution: Frank Siller, the organization’s CEO, told PIX11 News that it would do everything it could to ensure the Towers of Light show would go on as scheduled.
Details of how the organization would accomplish this feat were scarce. A foundation spokesperson told PIX11 that it was a “done deal,” and the foundation’s website stated it would also be responsible for the “reading of the names.”
“This year, amidst our hardships and obstacles, we will not forget them,” according to the website, adding that the organization would ensure the 140 readers’ health and safety, requiring that they wear masks and practice social distancing.
Rose later tweeted his thanks to the organization, praising them for “stepping up to ensure we keep our promise to never forget” the 9/11 victims.
Newsweek contacted Tunnel to Towers for comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.
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