America remembers 9/11 as pandemic changes tribute traditions across the country

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NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — Events marking the September 11th anniversary are being scaled-back this year in Lower Manhattan, at the Pentagon and at the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, but many of the usual displays of patriotism remain.

It’s soothing to relatives of those lost on 9/11, who said they’re disappointed by some of the changes made in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of those changes is the reading of the names of the victims. They’re recorded this year, not live. Organizers of the New York ceremonies chose to do away with the stage, as they work to discourage one of the things we’re all being asked to avoid: crowds.

One part of the memorial service that was nearly canceled because of coronavirus concerns, the tribute in light in memory of the fallen twin towers, turned out to be more than New Yorkers were willing to bear.

The lights require a large crew to set up and maintain, so plans were made to do without them to avoid increasing the risk of spreading coronavirus. After a public outcry, accommodations were made, masks were worn, hand sanitizer stations were set up and on Thursday night the lights were shining brightly over New York.

Lower Manhattan is hosting something of a hybrid 9/11 ceremony in 2020; one at the Sept. 11 memorial Plaza, the other on a corner nearby. The parallel events reflect the divide over how to mark the somber anniversary during a pandemic.

Plans varied widely across the country, with some cities, like Warwick, Rhode Island, making plans for virtual events and others, like Avon, Ohio, planting thousands of flags in vibrant displays of patriotism.

The New York state Museum in Albany remained closed to the public, but 9/11 artifacts were arranged so passersby could see them from outside the building.

Vice President Mike Pence is expected to attend the New York ceremony Friday, while President Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden were expected to attend the service at the Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania.

NewsNation Now digital anchors Ji Suk Yi and Aaron Nolan will have live coverage right here at 8:30 a.m. (ET).

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