NYC’s annual 9/11 light tribute is back on days after being canceled because of the pandemic

9/11 tribute lights in New York on Sept. 11, 2019.
AP Photo/J. David Ake

It’s good news for the Tribute in Light, the annual Sept. 11 light installation that pays tribute to the victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks. Just days after officials said the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that it’s back on.

“I am glad that we can continue this powerful tribute to those we lost on 9/11 and to the heroism of all New Yorkers,” Cuomo tweeted, revealing that the state will provide health care personnel and supervision in order to ensure the safety of the large crew required to put the installation together.

“Honoring our 9/11 heroes is a cherished tradition. The twin towers of light signify hope, resiliency, promise and are a visual representation of #NewYorkTough,” Cuomo wrote. He added in another tweet, “The virus has taken so much and so many. But now the tribute will continue.”

The restoration of the installation came after growing calls from the public who disagreed with the cancellation.

Former FDNY firefighter Michael O’Connell, a 9/11 first responder, told News 12 Long Island he was outraged over the decision.

“Those two lights represent what those two towers stood for. And they represent so much more because of our brothers and sisters who died running into those buildings,” he said.

And in a News 12 Long Island poll, 86.7% of respondents said they didn’t agree with the decision to cancel the Tribute in Light.

In a statement, Alice M. Greenwald, CEO of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, which oversees the installation, addressed the U-turn.

“For the last eight years the 9/11 Memorial & Museum has produced the Tribute in Light and we recognize the profound meaning it has for so many New Yorkers. This year, its message of hope, endurance, and resilience are more important than ever,” she wrote. “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.”

Daniel P. Derella/AP

The installation features 88 7,000-watt xenon light bulbs placed on the top of a parking garage in downtown Manhattan that project two columns of light into the night sky from ground zero. The columns reach four miles high, meaning they can be seen from dozens of miles away.

Initially, the museum had canceled the Tribute this year, citing health and safety concerns amid the pandemic for the large crew required to install it. A donation from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg as well as assistance from the state are ensuring that the show goes on in 2020.

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