It takes nearly 40 stagehands and electricians more than a week to produce the annual Tribute in Light display that marks the 9/11 anniversary each year, according to the New York Times. And because they must work in close contact, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum decided last week to cancel this year’s memorial. Upon hearing the news, Governor Cuomo, however, stepped in and said he’d provide the medical personnel necessary to make the event happen safely.
In a statement, Governor Cuomo said:
This year it is especially important that we all appreciate and commemorate 9/11, the lives lost, and the heroism displayed as New Yorkers are once again called upon to face a common enemy. I understand the Museum’s concern for health and safety, and appreciate their reconsideration. The state will provide health personnel to supervise to make sure the event is held safely while at the same time properly honoring 9/11. We will never forget.
The first Tribute in Light was projected into the sky six months after September 11, 2001. It has then been projected every September 11 from dusk to dawn. The Museum has been managing it since 2012.
The public art installation was developed by the Municipal Art Society and Creative Time, who brought together six artists and designers and a lighting consultant. The projection takes place from the roof of the Battery Parking Garage, just south of the 9/11 Memorial, and is run on temporary generators. From two 48-foot squares, comprised of 88, 7,000-watt xenon lightbulbs, the twin beams shine up to four miles into the sky, “echoing the shape and orientation of the Twin Towers,” according to the Museum.
Prior to the governor stepping in, the Museum had developed an alternative memorial, Tribute in Lights, in conjunction with NYC & Company, the city’s marketing and tourism arm. This would have had iconic New York City buildings, including One World Trade Center, light their spires and facades in blue.
In a statement on their website, 9/11 Memorial & Museum President and CEO Alice M. Greenwald said:
In the last 24 hours we’ve had conversations with many interested parties and believe we will be able to stage the tribute in a safe and appropriate fashion… I want to particularly thank Mike Bloomberg, Governor Cuomo, and the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. for their assistance in offsetting the increased costs associated with the health and safety considerations around the tribute this year and the technical support of so many that will enable the tribute to be a continuing source of comfort to families and an inspiration to the world going forward.
Last month, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum announced that they would not have the traditional “reading of the names” at this year’s 9/11 ceremony. Usually, family members of some of the 3,000 who lost their lives gather on stage and read the names of the victims, often including personal messages. To adhere to social distancing guidelines this year, a recorded reading of the names that’s part of the Museum’s “In Memoriam” exhibition will be broadcast.
Family members will still be welcome on the plaza, and the rest of the ceremony will remain largely unchanged, save for social distancing and mask requirements. This year’s ceremony will begin at 8:30am with the first of six moments of silence beginning at 8:46am, at which time houses of worship will toll their bells. The moments of silence are observed at the exact times each World Trade Center tower was struck and fell, when the Pentagon was attacked, and the crash of United Airlines Flight 93.
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