New York, NY – New York Police Department (NYPD) officers called the cancellation of the twins beams of light that commemorate victims of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers a “smack to the face” that had very little to do with the pandemic.
The 9/11 Memorial & Museum announced Thursday on its website that the “Tribute in Light” couldn’t be constructed this year due to the health risks from the coronavirus pandemic.
The lights are a public art installation that have become an iconic memorial tribute.
The twin beams reach four miles into the sky and are produced using 88 7,000-watt xenon lightbulbs that are positioned into two 48-foot squares that echo the shape and orientation of the Twin Towers, according to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum website.
“This incredibly difficult decision was reached in consultation with our partners after concluding the health risks during the pandemic were far too great for the large crew required to produce the annual Tribute in Light,” the 9/11 Memorial & Museum wrote on Aug. 14. “We hope to resume this iconic tribute for the 20th anniversary.”
Then they explained that in lieu of the twin beams, the city was organizing a Tribute in Lights on buildings across the city.
“In a spirit of unity and remembrance, the city will come together for a ‘Tribute in Lights’ initiative to inspire the world and honor the promise to never forget,” the message read.
The website said the 9/11 Memorial organization had partnered with the city to encourage buildings to light their spires and facades in blue on Sept. 11.
NYPD sources told The Police Tribune they were outraged the iconic light display had been cancelled.
“It’s pretty simple,” an NYPD source told The Police Tribune. “If all types of outdoor projects are going on in New York City – construction, park improvements, road repairs which require workers to work together – why can’t 40 guys come together to get this done? It just doesn’t make sense.”
“I have no idea how idea how setting up those lights endangers people’s health, but I’m sure there are plenty of people who would volunteer to do it,” an NYPD official told The Police Tribune.
That official said he didn’t think the cancellation was really about the pandemic.
“I think it’s more about not showing appreciation toward police right now more than anything having to do with the safety of the workers,” the official told The Police Tribune. “I think that if they put the lights up, it would be cause for people to remember what went on and maybe rethink the current situation.”
He said he thought if public opinion turns against the negative police narrative Democratic leadership in the city has been putting out there, it will “crumble their house of cards.”
The NYPD official said it was the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives on 9/11 who would be the most hurt by the cancellation of the iconic tribute.
“I think the families are going to have an objection to this, but the people who have been rioting are probably glad it’s cancelled because the events are a sign of American solidarity, which is the last thing they want to see displayed right now,” he told The Police Tribune angrily.
Retired Metro Transit Police Officer Brian Manion, whose cousin New York City Fire Department Chaplain Father Mychal Judge was the first certified fatality of 9/11, took exception to the plan to cancel the Tribute of Light.
“I never thought I’d see the day that a tribute to this tragedy and their sacrifice would be canceled,” Manion told The Police Tribune. “They’re claiming they can’t do it because it’s too much of a health risk?”
“We made a promise to never forget the fallen who were murdered on that day, their sacrifice is worth remembering. We need to wake up and demand that this service continue and never let the powers-that-be rob the survivors of this tribute of their loved ones,” he said with conviction.
Retired NYPD Detective David Chianese, who was one of the brave police officers who responded to the Twin Towers that day, called the move by the 9/11 Memorial & Museum a “smack in the face.”
“As a 9/11 first responder, I am appalled by the call by Alice Greenwald, CEO of the 9/11 National Museum and Michael P Frazier Jr., its director,” Chianese told The Police Tribune. “I have watched countless Americans since that day fall ill and die do to the toxic grounds they gave their all. A promise to never forget was made but slowly they have tried to erase the events.”
He pointed out the double-standard in the decision.
“The health concerns from COVID is a weaponized story to further their agenda but offers little truth,” he continued. “With these concerns, we have welcomed all major sports teams to New York, allowed the occupation of City Hall Park, and hosted the MTV VMAs. But this solemn and annual event is an alleged health risk?”
“It’s a smack to the face of all who answered America’s call,” the retired NYPD detective told The Police Tribune. “Not just cops and firefighters but those who enlisted, our iron workers, heavy equipment operators, doctors, sanitation and countless others.”
One angry NYPD source said he thought the entire thing was political.
“It’s bulls-t,” he said angrily. “Again, if it’s okay to get people together to throw bricks at the police, you can get together and have the name readings and a memorial ceremony, whether it’s socially-distanced or remote, versus the way it’s traditionally done.”
In July, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum cancelled the traditional in-person reading of the nearly 3,000 9/11 victims’ names at the annual Ground Zero ceremony, the New York Post reported.
The Tunnels to Towers foundation has announced it will hold an alternative memorial reading of the names in a separate Manhattan ceremony.
The Police Tribune reached out to Michael Ahern Production Services, the company that produces the Tribute of Light display, for comment but had not received a response by publication time.