How New York Commemorates 9_11 Each Year
How New York Commemorates 9_11 Each Year
The attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, were one of the most horrific and tragic events in New York City history. It was a moment when all eyes were on New York City. Even the astronauts on board the International Space Station looked down and commented on the smoke billowing from where the twin towers once stood. More than two decades may have passed since the events of 9/11, but the memory is still vivid and clear for New Yorkers and those who come to visit. There are several beautiful annual tributes and ways for you to pay your respects.
TRIBUTE IN LIGHT (9/11 Memorial Lights)
Did you know that “Tribute in Light,” the two giant beams of light that illuminate the sky each year on the anniversary of September 11th, is an art installation based on top of a parking lot? That’s right. A few blocks south of the World Trade Center Sight reflecting pools is the Battery Parking Garage. The roof of Battery Parking Garage is host to these memorial beams of light. The idea for this light installation was born shortly after the tragic events of 9/11. Several artists independently conceived the idea, and the Municipal Art Society and Creative Time merged these ideas together. Originally the installation was going to be called “Towers of Light,” but victims’ families believed that name put too much focus on the destruction of the towers, versus the people who lost their lives. While the official lighting of “Tribute in Light” is on the annual anniversary of 9/11, it takes over 30 people several days to install and focus the lights. During this time, not all of the lights may be turned on, but the beams can still be seen throughout the five boroughs and New Jersey, causing the city to pause and remember. On a clear day, “Tribute in Light” can be seen as far as 60 miles away!
TUNNEL TO TOWERS 5K RUN & WALK
On the morning of September 11, 2001, FDNY firefighter Stephen Siller had just finished his shift and was on his way to play a round of golf with his brothers. He heard the news that the towers had been hit, and instead of hitting the golf course, he strapped on his firefighting gear and headed with his squad (Squad 1) to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. When his squad arrived, they discovered that the tunnel connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan had been closed for security purposes and the truck could not drive through. Stephen Siller decided that would not stop him from running to the site to help. Carrying 60 pounds of gear on his back, he ran 1.7 miles through the tunnel to the World Trade Center Site. It would be there that he gave his life rescuing others.
Each year, to commemorate Stephen Siller’s heroic feat, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation hosts a 5K Run & Walk. It takes place each year near the anniversary of 9/11. It starts in Brooklyn and ends at West Street and Murray, where a family day takes place.
The firefighters on 9/11 not only ran through tunnels, many carried their 60 pounds of gear up more than 100 flights of stairs to the top of the towers. Photographs show the haunted yet determined looks on their faces. The Tunnel to Towers Foundation also hosts a “T2T Tower Climb,” where, for one day only, participants can climb up to 102 flights of stairs to the top of One World Trade Center, honoring the climb of the first responders on 9/11.
READING OF THE NAMES
Perhaps the most poignant of all the 9/11 tributes is the annual “reading of the names.” 2,977 innocent people lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks. At 8:40 a.m., the moment that the first plane hit the North Tower, a somber ceremony reading of all 2,977 names begins at the corner of Vesey and West St. During this ceremony, 9/11 Memorial Plaza is typically closed to the public, but those in surrounding areas can hear the names being read aloud.
THE BELL OF HOPE AT ST. PAUL’S CHAPEL
St. Paul’s Chapel is often referred to as “The Little Chapel That Stood.” This tiny chapel dates back to 1766. When the twin towers collapsed, they destroyed six other surrounding buildings, a train station, and a shopping mall. St. Paul’s Chapel, directly across the street, survived without a single shingle being knocked out of place. Because there was a perfectly intact building so close to the World Trade Center Site, it was used as a make-shift fire station in the following days and weeks.
In 2002, St. Mary-le-Bow in London, a sister church to St. Paul’s Chapel, gave St. Paul’s Chapel “The Bell of Hope” as a gift. The Bell of Hope aims to remind New Yorkers there is always hope, even in our darkest moments. The Bell of Hope was forged in the same foundry as the Liberty Bell (White Chapel Foundry) and, like the Liberty Bell, is usually a silent bell. The Liberty Bell, however, is silent because of a giant crack in its side. The Bell of Hope is silent by choice. The Bell of Hope is usually rung just once a year, on the anniversary of September 11th. It is rung in four sets of five, following a tradition honoring fallen firefighters.
If you look closely at the flat surface underneath the Bell of Hope, you will notice that there is a map of the original 16 acres that made up the original World Trade Center Site.
After observing the Bell of Hope, you can walk into St. Paul’s Chapel to pay your respects or attend a service.
Remembering 9/11 is a moment to honor everyday heroes. If there is a hero in your life that you would like to celebrate, consider shouting their accomplishment out to the world with the Welcome to Times Square billboard. Visit timessquarebillboard.com to learn more.
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