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Family members gather at dual 9/11 memorial services for 19th anniversary of World Trade Center terrorist attack

September 11, 2020

Family members pay their respects to victims of the 9/11 attacks during the 19th anniversary commemoration ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial on Sept. 11, 2020, in New York City. (Angela Weiss/AFP/Tribune News Service)

NEW YORK (Tribune News Service) — The sad sound of bagpipes and the names of the 9/11 dead echoed once more Friday across Ground Zero as still-mourning families and colleagues marked the 19th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attack at the World Trade Center.

The grim annual remembrance of the terrorist carnage on a sun-splashed September morning began at 8:30 a.m. at the 9/11 Memorial Plaza, where family members and guests were asked to socially distance across its eight acres. Most in the crowd wore face masks as they gathered in Lower Manhattan for the annual remembrance.

Joining the usual local dignitaries at the somber service were Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his wife Jill, along with Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen. Gov. Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Rep. Chuck Schumer, former mayor Mike Bloomberg and Mayor de Blasio were also in attendance.

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“I’m not gonna make any news today,” Biden told reporters. “I’m not going to talk about anything other than 9/11. We took all our advertising down. It’s a solemn day. That’s how we’re going to keep it.”

Biden was due to visit Shanskville, Pa., and the Flight 93 National Memorial later Friday. President Trump was scheduled to appear at the memorial Friday morning.

Unlike past years, there was no live reading of the 2,753 names of those victims killed when the World Trade Center collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001. The FDNY, after losing 343 members in the terrorist attack, recommended its workers avoid this year’s events due to coronavirus.

The names of the victims, pre-recorded by their family members, still echoed through the silence. But the choice to bar a live reading of the names, always an emotional part of the service, prompted the creation of a second memorial service.

The other service, arranged by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, took place a few blocks away from Ground Zero.

Karen Swift, whose brother Thomas was killed while working at Morgan Stanley in the south tower, opted to attend the first-time event where the names were still read aloud rather than recorded.

“We still have to remember,” said Swift, who wore a T-shirt honoring her brother. “The whole country’s going downhill. It’s one thing after another, and now with the COVID. I’m glad they’re still having this, though.”

The Ground Zero ceremony began with an honor guard of FDNY, NYPD and Port Authority police carrying American flags, with bagpipers representing the three agencies marching behind.

Moments of silence were observed at 8:46 a.m. and 9:03 a.m., the times when the two hijacked planes slammed into the twin 110-story towers.

(c)2020 New York Daily News

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