NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence will mark the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks in New York City this Friday.
The vice president is expected to speak at a commemoration ceremony being held by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
The foundation decided to hold an alternative ceremony after the National September 11 Memorial & Museum announced the traditional Reading of the Names of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks would not happen at their ceremony this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The horrific loss of life, from the largest attack on US soil, a terrorist attack, requires that we read these names out loud, in person, on this day, every year. We can never minimize that fateful day,“ said Frank Siller, Chairman and CEO of Tunnel to Towers, who lost his brother, FDNY Firefighter Stephen Siller, in the attack. "The Tunnel to Towers Foundation is honored that Vice President Pence will be in attendance at its Reading of the Names ceremony on 9/11. His presence signals the immense gravity of the day and so appropriately honors the fallen, who gave their lives for us 19 years ago. We are grateful to Vice President Pence for helping America to NEVER FORGET."
The foundation said 140 speakers will each read the names of 21 victims live and in-person during the ceremony, which is set to begin at 8:40 a.m. near Ground Zero.
The ceremony’s two podiums will be sanitized after each reader.
Mask wearing and social distancing will be enforced.
Meanwhile, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum has invited family members to gather on the memorial plaza for a scaled-back event to mark the anniversary "while adhering to state and federal guidelines regarding social distancing and public gatherings."
"As in years past, the focus of the commemoration will be the reading of the names. Out of an abundance of caution and in line with the guidance regarding social distancing, we will not ask family members to read the names of victims in person on a stage this year," the museum said. "Recorded readings of the names made by 9/11 family members will instead be used for the 19th anniversary commemoration ceremony."
There will be six moments of silence acknowledging when each of the World Trade Center towers was struck and fell, when the Pentagon was attacked and when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a Pennsylvania field.
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation had previously stepped in when the 9/11 Memorial & Museum initially announced that it would not be holding the annual Tribute in Light, which illuminates the night sky every year in Lower Manhattan with two beams of light in memory of the victims.
Following sharp criticism, the museum reversed course and will now be holding the tribute after Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state would provide health personnel and supervision to safely display the lights.
The foundation is holding light displays on Wednesday at the Pentagon and Thursday in Shanksville, Pa. to honor the victims of the attacks.