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The Pandemic Changes The Look Of Annual Sept. 11 Memorial Events


Today, for the 19th time, New Yorkers remembered the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.


PFEIFFER: A remembrance for victims of a catastrophe that shaped the last generation unfolding amid the pandemic that may well define the next.

JAYE MARKWELL: It's actually more difficult than any of the other years because, you know, the social distancing and not being able to give each other comfort and hugs.


That's Jaye Markwell, who lives in Connecticut. She came to the city after the attack to volunteer for the Salvation Army.

MARKWELL: You cannot express or explain it to anybody who was not here - the sights, the sounds, the smells. I can, to this day, still smell it.

CHANG: Every year, she gets together with friends she met back in 2001. Many of them aren't coming down this year.

MARKWELL: I'm lost today. I'm literally lost. I'm wandering around.

PFEIFFER: Some of the traditional rituals continued. At the 9/11 Memorial Plaza, at ground zero, moments of silence marked the times when the planes hit the World Trade Center towers.


PFEIFFER: Usually, family members read names of the nearly 3,000 victims one by one. This year, due to COVID-19 concerns, they stood by as a recorded reading played over loudspeakers.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Gordon M. Aamoth Jr.


CHANG: A separate group, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, took issue with the restrictions and hosted a separate event with names read live just one block away.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: The horrific loss of life requires that we read these names out loud in person on this day every year.


PFEIFFER: Kenny Camey was just 3 years old on the day of the attacks. He moved to New York City from Texas for college, and this was his first time at the remembrance.

KENNY CAMEY: One thing that's nice to see is a sense of community that, especially in New York City, we can all come together for one thing. That's important to all of us.

PFEIFFER: He'd been standing, listening, for almost three hours and planned to stay. He said it wasn't just names being read; it was a story being told.

(SOUNDBITE OF OSKAR SCHUSTER'S "FJARLAEGUR") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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