Just as all
aspects of our lives
were impacted by the pandemic so was this 19th year after 9/11.
Ground Zero was shut down to visitors, there was a huge controversy over
whether the Tribute in Light was to be set up or the reading of the names
occur, and the Greek Orthodox Church on the site that was being rebuilt had its
Tribute in Light and Reading of Names were to be cancelled
Down to the wire
in August a
horrible controversy arose over two important aspects of remembering 9/11: Was
the Tribute in Light to be set up this year, were there going to be any reading
of names? Both of these memorial events are of great importance to those who
experienced 9/11 in 2001, especially to the individuals who lost loved ones.
This controversy arose where the health concerns surrounding the pandemic
intersected with the desires of individuals to honor those lost, “to never
This August, the
September 11 Memorial & Museum said it wouldn't install the Tribute in
Light this year due to concerns surrounding the pandemic. The decision sparked
outrage. Alice Greenwald, the head of the 9/11 Museum & Memorial justified the decision,
to figure out, in a time of pandemic, how we would be able to produce the
Tribute in Lights safely was really a priority consideration…the real answer is
that we were getting repeated expressions of concern from the expert technical
production team that puts this magnificent work of art together each and every
year.” It takes 40 workers to ensure all 88, 7,000-watt xenon light bulbs, are
installed properly and then light up.
Coumo jumped in pledging the state would provide health and safety personnel
and supervision to ensure the team working on the tribute follows best
practices during the pandemic. "The
virus has taken so much and so many.
But now the tribute will continue," Gov. Cuomo wrote on Twitter. His announcement came one day after The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a
non-profit honoring military and first responders, stepped in saying they would
create a Tribute in Light. On assurance from Governor Coumo, Ms. Greenwald said
the 9/11 Museum & Memorial will indeed proceed with
the installation this year.
As to the reading of names
being canceled, the museum decided that on Sept. 11 it would feature
pre-recorded audio of family members reading the names of loved ones, instead
of the live readings, plus limit attendance at Ground Zero. However, pandemic
concerns did not deter the Tunnel to Towers Foundation from planning to feature
live readings in a separate, simultaneous event a short walk from the Ground
Zero memorial at the corner of Liberty and
Church streets, next to Zuccotti Park — where the victims’ names were read
aloud before the ceremony was moved to the 9/11 memorial in 2014.
Ground Zero Memorial
From the start,
Covid-19 pandemic also impacted Ground Zero. When Governor Coumo announced a
shut down of all businesses and stay at home orders with no public gatherings
allowed, the memorial and the museum had to close on March 13. The water
flowing into the pools were turned off except for maintenance and the area was
roped off to keep people away from the panels of names listing those lost in
the attacks. On July 4th, Ground Zero was reopened to the public and
the waterfalls turned on. This was only the second time in its 9 year history
that Ground Zero and the Memorial pools were shuttered. The first was before
hurricane Sandy was to hit and then afterward as the entire memorial and Ground
Zero was flooded.
Greek Orthodox Church resumes construction
For almost 20 years since the 9/11 terror attacks,
Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Lower Manhattan on the perimeter of Ground
Zero, has tried to rebuild.
the patron saint of sailors, the original St. Nicholas opened its doors on
Cedar Street in 1916, quickly becoming the first stopping point for Greek
immigrants after they left Ellis Island.
the community for 85 years, retaining a quaint, old-world charm as skyscrapers
rose around it.
South Tower of the World Trade Center came crashing down on New York’s darkest
day, it took St. Nicholas with it. Rebuilding began but efforts unfolded in fits and starts,
hamstrung by numerous issues.
the church sat half-finished,and untouched for two years with the coffers bare.
Then, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and PA head Rick Cotton met with Archbishop
Elpidophoros, Father Alex Karloutsos and the leaders of The Friends of St. Nicholas — Psaros,
Chairman Dennis Mehiel and vice-chairman John Catsimatidis — and resolved
to get the project
fundraising drive that, in just 90 days, amassed the $45 million necessary to
complete the project, with construction to resume in the Spring. Then the
pandemic hit grounding all non-essential construction projects statewide to a
halt for months.
Mon Aug 3
construction will finally resume with the goal of completion in 2021on the 20th
anniversary of 9/11.