“On September 11, great sorrow came to our country. And from that sorrow has come great resolve. Today, we are a nation awakened to the evil of terrorism and determined to destroy it. That work began the moment we were attacked; it will continue until justice is delivered,” President George W. Bush, delivered Oct. 11, 2001, Arlington, Virginia.
Now nearly 20 years later, a global pandemic known as COVID-19, alongside months of nationwide rioting, has succeeded in canceling the 9/11 Twin Towers tribute lights and reading the names of those perished.
Michael Frazier, spokesman for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, said organizers were concerned about the health risks to workers who set up the display.
“The world’s beloved twin beams of light regrettably will not shine over Lower Manhattan as part of this year’s tributes,” said Frazier in a statement.
Elected leaders and unions representing New York’s first responders criticized the decision to suspend the Tribute in Lights. One group declaring plans to facilitate the light display themselves and another threatening action if the decision is not reversed. After mere days of online outrage of the cancellation of ceremonies to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks the Tunnel to Towers organization confirmed on Sunday, Aug 16 that they will move forward, they Will Never Forget.
“In the wake of these decisions, and in response to the many people who e:,q)fessed a need to read their loved one’s name aloud, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation immediately stepped up to hold an independent memorial ceremony and to illuminate the night sky with a “Towers of Light” tribute on September 11,” said Tunnel to Towers CEO Frank Siller in a statement. “It was clear to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation that this was the right thing to do, and that it could be done safely, in accordance with all the CDC guidelines.”
Retired FDNY (New York Fire Department) firefighter Stephen Humenesky of Dallas, who served on Engine 301 and was the Queens Trustee for the Uniformed Firefighters Association, said the city’s decision floors him.
“Statues of all types are being torn down even ones with no connection to civil war or slavery. How about Pearl Harbor, the attack which shocked the United States, yet it’s been years since there was any ceremony in Hawaii with the exception of the surviving members and the US Navy,” he said. “This has been coming for years in regards to the reading of the names, which at its inception was only planned for the 1st anniversary. On the fifth anniversary, the city wanted to stop it from that point forward. Again at the 10-year mark as well as the 15-year mark. Notice it didn’t make the news last year, and it is only getting coverage this year because they have an excuse now.”
By Friday, Aug 14 10 New York City Council members drafted and signed a letter to President Donald Trump asking for federal intervention to save the annual light display.
Councilman Joe Borelli even took to Twitter to push his support for Federal Intervention. However, it was the families of those lost, and a public outcry of rage that spurred the annual memorial to push through and honor those that were lost that day in 2001.
“I’m reminded of what I told the members of my company when we were being transported down to the site by bus about four days after the attack. New York residents lined the west side highway five deep cheering for us; most firefighters were super impressed by the crowds. I told them not to get used to it because that was our fifteen minutes of fame,” Humenskey said.
“We will never forget all the innocent people killed by the hatred of a few,” said George W. Bush, who served as U.S. President during the attack.
A mere 19 years later, it would appear that those who didn’t forget continue the fight to keep more than a memory alive of the most horrific day for the United States in its history.
“The Towers of Light have been, and will always be, a symbol showing that New York City and this country can not be kept down, and will stand strong and proud in the face of any tragedy or disaster,” said Andrew Ansbro, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.
“The Tunnel to Towers Foundation had already taken all the necessary steps needed for the live reading of the names ceremony and the “Towers of Light” tribute. The “Towers of Light” tribute will be held in a location befitting the sacred 9/ l l souls the light honors. We will follow through with our commitment,” said Sellers. “Vl/e are also calling on all Americans to join us on our mission. Our hope is that the “Towers of Light” is one of many lights that shine in honor of those who perished on 9/ l l.”
This anniversary is an opportunity for every family, on every street, in every town in America to shine a light, a blue light, this September 11th to show Americans as one nation will NEVER FORGET.