NYC’s twin-beam light tribute for 9/11 victims will go on after all

NEW YORK — The twin beams at the site of the World Trade Center will be shining after all.

After organizers canceled the annual light installation that honors 9/11 victims, a nonprofit group has stepped forward vowing to stage a visual display as a tribute. Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state of New York will provide health personnel to allow the annual Tribute in Light to proceed.

A day after the National September 11 Memorial & Museum announced it would scrap plans for its annual Tribute in Light, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation said it is working on an alternative ceremony that will feature a lit representation of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers.

Update 4:52 p.m. EDT Aug. 15: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement Saturday afternoon and said the Tribute in Light would proceed as scheduled. Cuomo said the state of New York would provide health personnel and supervision so the event can continue.

“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,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I understand the museum’s concern for health and safety, and appreciate their reconsideration.”

“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.

Original story: “The twin beams of light that shine over lower Manhattan in silent tribute to those lost on 9/11 are an iconic symbol of hope visibly showing that light will always triumph over darkness,” said Frank Siller, chairman and chief executive of the foundation.

However, it is unclear where the light display will be located. The foundation is already planning an alternative ceremony to the south of the memorial plaza which will include victims’ families.

The Tribute in Light has been a focal point of the tribute to the more than 3,000 victims lost on Sept. 11, 2001 for many years. The lights extend 4 miles into the sky and are visible for nearly 60 miles. The lights are typically turned on at dusk Sept. 11 and shine until dawn Sept. 12.

This year, rather than the twin light beam display, museum officials said the visual tribute will include blue lights on building facades and spires on the tops of skyscrapers across the city, the Asbury Park Press reported. The museum canceled the display Thursday and had earlier scaled back other aspects of the tribute amid fears of spreading the coronavirus.

Elected officials and unions representing first responders criticized the cancellation.

The mayor of a New Jersey town said that if the museum would offer the hardware, the city of Middleton would host the lighted tribute.

"I'll figure out the logistics," Mayor Tony Perry told the Asbury Park Press. "If you're willing to provide me the lights and the structure to light up the skyline, I'll do it."

On behalf of the Township Committee and in response to the decision made by New York City to not display the lighted...

Posted by Tony Perry on Friday, August 14, 2020

Ten New York City council members signed a letter to President Donald Trump asking for federal intervention, to ensure a light display, WNBC reported.

The Sergeants Benevolent Association police union said it "will make sure" the lights shine Sept. 11, WNBC reported.

The president of the Uniform Firefighters Association said the union would help the foundation with its ceremony any way it can, WNBC reported.

“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,” Andrew Ansbro, president of the union, told WNBC. “The lights are an amazing way for people to remember those who were lost on 9/11. They’re inspirational. When you walk outside on a September night your eyes are drawn to it. They’re drawn to Lower Manhattan. It’s a reminder of who and what was lost. It’s a also a reminder that we’re still here, we’re still standing. It’s uplifting.”

The foundation was created to honor the memory of New York City firefighter Stephen Siller, who died in the attack and was Frank Siller's brother.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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