US remembers 9/11, with virus altering familiar tributes

APTOPIX_Election_2020_Biden_Sept_11_84894 Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden greets Vice President Mike Pence at the 19th anniversary ceremony in observance of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York, on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.
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Election_2020_Biden_Sept_11_11645 Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden attend the 19th anniversary ceremony in observance of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York, on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.
Sept_11_Anniversary_09213 Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, right, accompanied by Bernard Kerik,former New York City police Commissioner, attend the Tunnel to Towers ceremony, Sept. 11, 2020, in New York. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen will attend the ceremony where the names of nearly 3,000 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks will be read by family members.
APTOPIX_Sept_11_Anniversary_27439 From left, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Jill Biden with her husband Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, observe a moment of silence during a ceremony organized by the Tunnel to Towers Foundation on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in New York. The names of nearly 3,000 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks will be read by family members.
Sept_11_Anniversary_17537 Tribute in Light, two vertical columns of light representing the fallen towers of the World Trade Center shine against the lower Manhattan skyline on the 19th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, seen from Jersey City, N.J., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.
Sept_11_Anniversary_35739 Security personnel prepare the venue where Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen will attend a ceremony organized by the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in New York. The names of nearly 3,000 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks are being read by family members.
Sept_11_Anniversary_Pennsylvania_25479 Mounted police officers sit outside the Visitor's Center at the National Memorial before a memorial service attended by President Donald Trump in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.
Sept_11_Anniversary_81937 Lorna O'Hara holds a poster of her cousin, Brian Bilcher, a New York City firefighter who died on Sept. 11, 2001, during the attacks at the World Trade Center, before a ceremony organized by the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, Friday, Sept. 11 2020, in New York. The names of nearly 3,000 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks are being read by family members.
Sept_11_Anniversary_53009 Joann Massaroli, of Manalapan, NJ, wears a button of her brother Michael Massaroli, 38, who was in the north tower of the Workd Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, before attending a ceremony organized by the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, Friday, Sept. 11 2020, in New York. The names of nearly 3,000 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks are being read by family members.
Sept_11_Anniversary_49004 Diane Massaroli holds flowers flags and photo of her husband Michael Massaroli who died during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks at the World Trade Center, before a ceremony organized by the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, in New York. The names of nearly 3,000 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks are being read by family members.
Sept_11_Anniversary_76692 A family member gets emotional at the Tunnel to Towers ceremony, Sept. 11, 2020, in New York. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen will attend the ceremony where the names of nearly 3,000 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks will be read by family members.
Sept_11_Anniversary_79282 CEO and Chairman of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation Frank Siller, is interviewed before a ceremony organized by his organization, Friday, Sept. 11 2020, in New York. The names of nearly 3,000 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks are being read by family members.
Sept_11_Anniversary_83260 A mourner brushes water with his fingers over the name cut-outs of the deceased at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in New York.
APTOPIX_Sept_11_Anniversary_27439 From left, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Jill Biden with her husband Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, observe a moment of silence on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in New York. The names of nearly 3,000 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks will be read by family members.
APTOPIX_Sept_11_Anniversary_27342 Mourners place flowers and pictures in the name cut-out of Kyung Hee (Casey) Cho at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in New York. Americans are commemorating 9/11 as a new national crisis in the form of the coronavirus pandemic reconfigures and divides anniversary ceremonies and a presidential campaign carves a path through the observances.
Sept_11_Anniversary_13322 A mourner prays over the name cut-out of the deceased Emilio Pete Ortiz at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in New York. Americans will commemorate 9/11 with tributes that have been altered by coronavirus precautions and woven into the presidential campaign.
Trump_Sept_11_49564 Bells are rung as each name is read at a 19th anniversary observance of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.
Trump_Sept_11_55957 President Donald Trump, along with others, sit on stage at a 19th anniversary observance of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.
Sept_11_Anniversary_01514 Flowers are placed in the inscribed names of deceased at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in New York. Americans will commemorate 9/11 with tributes that have been altered by coronavirus precautions and woven into the presidential campaign.
Sept_11_Anniversary_Pennsylvania_25479 Mounted police officers sit outside the Visitor's Center at the Flight 93 National Memorial before a memorial service attended by President Donald Trump in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.
Sept_11_Anniversary_55761 FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2019, file photo, a member of the U.S. Army Old Guard stands on the grounds of the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial before a ceremony in observance of the 18th anniversary of the September 11th attacks at the Pentagon in Washington. On Sept. 11, 2020, Americans will commemorate 9/11 with tributes that have been altered by coronavirus precautions and woven into the presidential campaign.
Sept_11_Anniversary_79729 FILE - In this Sept. 8, 2013, file photo, Charlotte Newman, 8, visits the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York. On Sept. 11, 2020, Americans will commemorate 9/11 with tributes that have been altered by coronavirus precautions and woven into the presidential campaign.
Sept_11_Anniversary_75353 FILE – In this May 31, 2018, file photo, visitors to the Flight 93 National Memorial pause at the Wall of Names honoring 40 passengers and crew members of United Flight 93 killed when the hijacked jet crashed at the site during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, near Shanksville, Pa. Families impacted by the terrorist attacks say it's important for the nation to pause and remember the hijacked-plane attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville on Sept. 11, 2001, shaping American policy, perceptions of safety and daily life in places from airports to office buildings.
Sept_11_Anniversary_66365 FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2001, file photo, the south tower of the World Trade Center, left, begins to collapse after a terrorist attack on the landmark buildings in New York. Families impacted by the terrorist attacks say it's important for the nation to pause and remember the hijacked-plane attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pa., on Sept. 11, 2001, shaping American policy, perceptions of safety and daily life in places from airports to office buildings.
Trump_Sept_11_25349 President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive for a 19th anniversary observance of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.
Trump_Sept_11_69118 President Donald Trump sits on stage at a 19th anniversary observance of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.
Sept_11_Anniversary_47884 Kathy Cunningham, of Spring. Lake, NJ, reads the name of her brother, Donald W. Robertson Jr., during a ceremony organized by the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, Friday, Sept. 11 2020, in New York. The names of nearly 3,000 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks are being read by family members.
Sept_11_Anniversary_89963 Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a ceremony Friday, Sept. 11 2020, in New York. The names of nearly 3,000 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks are being read by family members.
Sept_11_Pentagon_99548 Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley speaks during a ceremony at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial to honor the 184 people killed in the 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon, in Washington, Friday Sept. 11, 2020.
Sept_11_Pentagon_49643 Defense Secretary Mark Esper lays a wreath during a ceremony at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial to honor the 184 people killed in the 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon, in Washington, Friday Sept. 11, 2020.
APTOPIX_Pacific_Northwest_Wildfires_Sept._11_Anniversary_87779 An American flag on top the Space Needle was lowered to half-staff today by the Seattle Fire Department to remember those who lost their lives on 9/11, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Thick smoke from wildfires burning across Washington, Oregon and California makes seeing the Space Needle and downtown Seattle nearly impossible in this view from Queen Anne Hill.
APTOPIX_Sept_11_Anniversary_Pennsylvania_25479 Mounted police officers sit outside the Visitor's Center at the Flight 93 National Memorial before a memorial service attended by President Donald Trump in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.
Election_2020_Biden_Sept_11_23763 Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden talks with Maria Fisher, 90, whose son Andrew Fisher was killed in north World Trade Center tower, at the 19th anniversary ceremony in observance of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York, on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.
Sept_11_Anniversary_Pennsylvania_80958 The Towers of Light tribute shines behind the Tower of Voices at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. The display is provided by the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, and honors the lives lost on United Airlines Flight 93 and at the Pentagon in Washington in the 9/11 terror attacks.
Belgium_NATO_Sept._11_Anniversary_06919 NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a ceremony marking the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.
Sept_11_Anniversary_Pennsylvania_29044 Names of the 40 passengers and crew of Flight 93 are read followed by the ringing of two bells during a memorial service help at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.
Election_2020_Biden_Sept_11_13312 Jill Biden holds flowers as she attends the 19th anniversary ceremony in observance of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York, on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.
Sept_11_Anniversary_Trump_10880 A flock of geese fly past an Osprey aircraft, part of the entourage of President Donald Trump as he arrives to speak at the Flight 93 National Memorial Service in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.
Sept_11_Anniversary_Pennsylvania_69136 A visitor pauses at the Wall of Names during a visit to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.
Sept._11_Anniversary_Pennsylvania_33963 The Tower of Voices at the Flight 93 National Memorial is shown at sunset Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Shanksville, Pa. The monument's wind-activated chimes, which haven't been properly working since its dedication two years ago, were dedicated Thursday.
APTOPIX_Sept_11_Pentagon_31165 A large American flag is unfurled at the Pentagon ahead of ceremonies at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial to honor the 184 people killed in the 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon, in Washington, Friday Sept. 11, 2020.
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Sept_11_Anniversary_32074 Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, right, accompanied by Bernard Kerik, former commissioner of the New York Police Department, is interviewed at the Tunnel to Towers ceremony, Sept. 11, 2020, in New York. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen will attend the ceremony where the names of nearly 3,000 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks will be read by family members.
APTOPIX_Sept_11_Anniversary_89864 Mourners hug beside the names of the deceased Jesus Sanchez and Marianne MacFarlane at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in New York. Americans commemorated 9/11 with tributes that have been altered by coronavirus precautions and woven into the presidential campaign.
Sept_11_Anniversary_09878 Alice Amsterdam holds a tribute card of fallen FDNY firefighter Joseph Patrick Henry at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in New York. Americans will commemorate 9/11 with tributes that have been altered by coronavirus precautions and woven into the presidential campaign.
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NEW YORK (AP) — Americans commemorated 9/11 on Friday as another national crisis, the coronavirus, reconfigured ceremonies and as a presidential campaign carved a path through the memorials.

In New York, victims’ relatives gathered Friday morning for split-screen remembrances at the World Trade Center’s Sept. 11 memorial plaza and on a nearby corner, set up by separate organizations that differed on balancing tradition with virus safety.

Standing on the plaza, with its serene waterfall pools and groves of trees, Jin Hee Cho said she couldn’t erase the memory of the death of her younger sister, Kyung, in the 2001 terrorist attack that destroyed the trade center’s twin towers.

“It’s just hard to delete that in my mind. I understand there’s all this, and I understand now that we have even COVID,” said Cho, 55. “But I only feel the loss, the devastating loss of my flesh-and-blood sister.”

Around the country, some communities canceled 9/11 ceremonies, while others went ahead, sometimes with modifications. The Pentagon’s observance was so restricted that not even victims’ families could attend, though small groups could visit its memorial later in the day.

On an anniversary that fell less than two months before the presidential election, President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden both headed for the Flight 93 National Memorial in the election battleground state of Pennsylvania — at different times of day.

Biden also attended the ceremony at ground zero in New York, exchanging a pandemic-conscious elbow bump with Vice President Mike Pence before the observance began.

In short, the 19th anniversary of the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil was a complicated occasion in a maelstrom of a year, as the U.S. grapples with a pandemic, searches its soul over racial injustice and prepares to choose a leader to chart a path forward.

Still, families say it’s important for the nation to pause and remember the hijacked-plane attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at the trade center, at the Pentagon outside Washington and in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 11, 2001 — shaping American policy, perceptions of safety, and daily life in places from airports to office buildings.

“People could say, ‘Oh, 19 years.’ But I’ll always be doing something this day. It’s history,” said Annemarie D’Emic, who lost her brother Charles Heeran, a stock trader. She went to the alternative ceremony in New York, which kept up the longstanding tradition of in-person readers.

Speaking at the Pennsylvania memorial, Trump recalled how the plane’s crew and passengers tried to storm the cockpit as the hijackers as headed for Washington.

“The heroes of Flight 93 are an everlasting reminder that no matter the danger, no matter the threat, no matter the odds, America will always rise up, stand tall, and fight back,” the Republican president said.

Biden visited the memorial later Friday, laid a wreath and greeted relatives of victims including First Officer LeRoy Homer. Biden expressed his respect for those aboard Flight 93, saying sacrifices like theirs “mark the character of a country.”

“This is a country that never, never, never, never, never, never gives up,” he said.

At the Sept. 11 memorial in New York hours earlier, Biden offered condolences to victims’ relatives including Amanda Barreto, 27, and 90-year-old Maria Fisher, empathizing with their loss of loved ones. Biden’s first wife and their daughter died in a car crash, and his son Beau died of brain cancer.

Biden didn’t speak at that ceremony, which customarily doesn’t let politicians make remarks.

Pence went on to the separate ceremony, organized by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, where he read the Bible’s 23rd Psalm. His wife, Karen, read a passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes.

“For the families of the lost and friends they left behind, I pray these ancient words will comfort your heart and others,” said the vice president, drawing applause from the audience of hundreds.

Formed in honor of a firefighter killed on 9/11, the foundation felt in-person readers were crucial to the ceremony’s emotional impact and could recite names while keeping a safe distance. By contrast, recorded names emanated from speakers placed around the memorial plaza. Leaders said they wanted to keep readers and listeners from clustering at a stage.

As in past years on the plaza, many readers at the alternative ceremony added poignant tributes to their loved ones’ character and heroism, urged the nation not to forget the attacks and recounted missed family milestones: “How I wish you could walk me down the aisle in just three weeks,” Kaitlyn Strada said of her father, Thomas, a bond broker.

One reader thanked essential workers for helping New York City endure the pandemic, which has killed at least 24,000 people in the city and over 190,000 nationwide. Another reader, Catherine Hernandez, said she became a police officer to honor her family’s loss.

Other victims’ relatives, however, weren’t bothered by the switch to a recording at the ground zero ceremony, which also drew hundreds.

“I think it should evolve. It can’t just stay the same forever,” said Frank Dominguez, who lost his brother, Police Officer Jerome Dominguez.

The Sept. 11 memorial and the Tunnel to Towers foundation also tussled over the Tribute in Light, a pair of powerful beams that shine into the night sky near the trade center, evoking the twin towers. The 9/11 memorial initially canceled the display, citing virus safety concerns for the installation crew.

After the foundation vowed to put up the lights instead, the memorial changed course with help from its chair, former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The lights again went on at dusk Friday.

Tunnel to Towers, meanwhile, arranged to display single beams for the first time at the Shanksville memorial and the Pentagon.

The anniversary has become a day for volunteering, with the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance organization encouraging people this year to make donations or take other actions from home because of the pandemic.

___

Contributing to this report were Associated Press journalists Alexandra Jaffe and Ted Shaffrey in New York, Darlene Superville in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and Mark Scolforo in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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