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BY EMILY DAVENPORT AND ROBERT POZARYCKI
For the 19th time, thousands of family members and elected officials converged on the World Trade Center site Friday morning to remember those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks — though this ceremony was unlike any previous commemoration due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thousands gathered in Lower Manhattan at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum for the annual tribute to the nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93. The ceremony featured the live singing of The Star-Spangled Banner and musical tributes from bagpipers and drummers — but for the first time, the ceremony did not include a live reading of the victims’ names.
The memorial instead played a recording of the victims names, having cancelled the tradition this year due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. A socially distanced crowd of family members visited the reflecting pools marking the former Twin Towers’ footprints, leaving flowers and other tributes near the names of loved ones lost in the attacks.
Among those in attendance for the ceremony were former Vice President and current Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Jill Biden, Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, New York Senator and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, among many others.
Meanwhile, as the official 9/11 memorial went on, the Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation hosted their own live name-reading ceremony near Zuccotti Park, about a block from the World Trade Center site. The nonprofit for first responders organized the event after the live name-reading was scrapped this year.
Vice President Pence and the Second Lady spoke at the ceremony following his appearance at the 9/11 Memorial. The name-reading was interrupted so the Pences could address the crowd.
After delivering a brief speech and offering a prayer, the vice president departed the podium, prompting some in the crowd to chant “four more years” — an unusual injection of politics on what is traditionally a solemn, apolitical day in America.
Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani was also in attendance.