Official Ceremony At World Trade Center Will Use Pre-Recorded Name Readings, Citing Social Distancing Concerns

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Dueling ceremonies will take place this year in Lower Manhattan to honor those killed in the 9/11 attacks.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation will hold a separate ceremony next to the World Trade Center memorial.

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It’s a solemn tradition each year to remember those we lost — family members reading the names of nearly 3,000 people killed on 9/11.

Kaitlyn Strada was just 4 years old when her father, Tom, died in the North Tower.

“To stand up there and to speak their names in the present means so much. It really brings them back to life that day,” Strada said.

But on this 19th anniversary, families won’t have that moment.

There will be an official ceremony at the World Trade Center with moments of silence, but no live in-person reading of the names.

In a letter to families, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum president said, “Instead, we will use recorded name readings from the museum’s In Memoriam exhibition to ensure that your loved one is recognized and remembered.”

Strada says if protests have been allowed and businesses are reopening, they can also read the names and keep people safe.

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Frank Siller agrees. His FDNY brother Stephen also died on 9/11.

The family’s Tunnel To Towers Foundation, which CBS2 sponsors, will hold its own ceremony for 9/11 families, including an in-person reading of the names adjacent to Ground Zero near Church and Liberty Streets at the same time as the official ceremony.

“The memorial has done a beautiful job. They just made a mistake here and that’s really what I feel. I wanted to work with them. I wanted to be able to do it with them,” Siller said.

The museum said it is concerned about families gathering near the official stage they usually set up.

The foundation plans to enforce social distancing and make people wear masks.

Siller says he would cancel their ceremony if the official organizers change their minds and allow a live reading of the names, but he wasn’t too optimistic.

The 9/11 Memorial president said they want to make sure any 9/11 family member who wants to attend the ceremony feels comfortable, including the elderly and those with 9/11-related illnesses.

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