22nd Anniversary Commemoration Highlights

  • October 4, 2023
Collage showing thumbnail images of blue skies around the globe

This year's anniversary commemoration began under gray skies, with family members gathering in drizzle on the Memorial plaza to remember loved ones lost and those still suffering from the ongoing impact of 9/11. But as we led the country in marking 22 years since the day that changed us world forever, blue skies —and later, awe-inspiring New York City rainbows — ultimately appeared above us, reminding us that even on the darkest days, light and hope will prevail. 

Community Day
On Sunday, September 10, we hosted our annual Community Day — dedicated time for 9/11 and 2/26/1993 family members, family members of those who are sick or who have died from 9/11-related illnesses, rescue and recovery workers, active duty first responders, 9/11 survivors, active duty military and veterans, lower Manhattan residents and business owners, and active and retired flight crew members to experience the Museum together.  

This year's community partners included Friends of Firefighters; Victim Compensation Fund (VCF); 9/11 Trail; Crisis Response Canines; World Trade Center Health Program (WTC Health Program); Tuesday’s Children; First Responders Children’s Foundation; 9/11 Memorial & Museum Membership, Visionary Network, and Collections; and 9/11 Environmental Action, with sessions by the VCF and WTC Health Program. 

  • two attendees read a document about the Friends of Firefighters
  • many people of all ages visited community partners' information tables
  • a crisis response canine attends community day
  • commemorative notes posted at the event

Photos: Ben Hider

The 9/11 Anniversary Commemoration
Roughly 6,500 family members attended the 22nd commemoration ceremony on Monday, September 11, as well as numerous dignitaries and elected officials. More than 8,000 tuned in to the ceremony's live stream from our web site, and almost 30,000 on Facebook.  

  • flags and flowers placed on the Memorial
  • family members in solemn remembrance at the ceremony
  • commemorative bell ringing
  • a family member in an FDNY never forget baseball cap at the ceremony
  • a member of the NYPD places flags on the Memorial
  • family members support each other during the ceremony
  • US Army officers attend the ceremony
  • family members of all ages attend the ceremony
  • NYPD officers embrace at the Memorial
  • flowers are placed near loved ones' names on the Memorial
  • a family member carries a framed photo of a loved one killed on 9/11
  • two people embrace in front of the Memorial

Photos: Monika Graff, Ben Hider, David Starke 

Just before the Memorial opened to the public that afternoon, we also hosted a moment of tribute on the Memorial Glade, honoring those who are sick or have died as a result of 9/11-related illness or injury and all rescue, recovery, and relief workers, as well as recognizing the spirit and resilience of the survivors and members of the downtown community.  Memorial & Museum volunteers, Manhattan Community Board 1 members, and other community groups who played a role in the response to 9/11 participated in the ceremony.  We were joined by representatives from the World Trade Center Health Program and Victim Compensation Fund.

Beth Hillman and Allison Turkel lay flowers on the Memorial Glade

Allison Turkel (right), Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, with President and CEO Beth Hillman laying a bouquet on one of the Memorial Glade monoliths.  

  • laying a wreath upon on of the Memorial Glade monoliths
  • a US Army soldier in camoflage bows at a Memorial Glade monolith
  • a uniformed service member lays a flower on a monolith
  • flowers and an American flag adorn a stone and steel monolith
  • first responders carry their departments' flags in the Glade
  • Guests salute the Memorial Glade

Photos: Monika Graff

Museum staff gathers seated in preparation for the 2023 Digital Learning Experience live chat

Museum staff gathers on site just before the Digital Learning Experience live chat opens.

The Anniversary Digital Learning Experience
This year's Anniversary Digital Learning Experience reached 725,000 participants from all 50 states and more than 30 countries. The program centered on a half-hour film featuring eyewitness accounts and the personal stories of first responders from the NYPD and FDNY, a 9/11 family member, and a NYC public school teacher. Museum staff also engaged in over 1,300 real-time conversations via live chat with classes around the world. Overall we were joined by more than 14,000 teachers, more than 70 libraries, and 60+ organizations. The 2023 film is viewable here

Anniversary in the Theaters
For the second year in a row, we partnered with AMC Theatres on a special initiative to extend the reach of the Anniversary Digital Learning Experience beyond the classroom. Anniversary in the Theaters gave 9/11 community members, groups, and organizations across the country a chance to host screenings of the Digital Learning Experience film at local AMC Theatres. Nationwide, guests attended more than 30 screening events from Virginia to Arizona and Missouri to Texas. In New York City, Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, and State Representative Charles Fall held screenings in their districts as well. 

Ada Dolch, who appears in the 2023 Digital Learning Experience film, speaks to the camera

Ada Dolch in a clip from our 2023 Digital Learning Experience film.

Remember the Sky
Our third annual Remember the Sky digital commemoration invited people around the world to post a photo of their sky on 9/11 on social media with the hashtags #neverforget911 and #rememberthesky. This act of collective remembrance reached 13 million accounts, garnered 241,000 interactions across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, and inspired roughly 70,000 new followers in a single day.


Collage showing blue skies around the world

Remember the Sky posts from around the globe

The Never Forget Fund
Our digital fundraising efforts, in total, raised $300,000 from over 2,500 donors. This generosity supports our educational programs that help students, educators, law enforcement, military, and intelligence professionals better understand and connect to the stories of 9/11. 

Four images of the rescue and recovery effort appear as photos taped onto a black background, with The Never Forget Fund logo on right

Evening of September 11
Our annual public art installation Tribute in Light illuminated the nighttime sky from dusk til dawn. Viewable within a 60-mile radius of lower Manhattan, the twin beams of blue light honor those killed and symbolize the city's collective resilience. We are exceptionally grateful for Con Edison's partnership in this year's presentation of Tribute in Light, as well as the grant we received from New York State Assemblymember Charles Fall. 

Blue conEdison logo on white background
Three photos of the Tribute in Light installation illuminating a dark blue sky
Photo: David Starke

As an extension of Tribute in Light, for the 22nd anniversary of the September 11 attacks, we once again partnered with New York City Tourism + Conventions to encourage buildings throughout the city who will light up their facades and rooftops in sky blue. “Tribute in Lights” is a unique but simple gesture of collective remembrance that illuminates the city each year on the evening of September 11 from dusk until dawn.

Participants included Con Edison, One World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, Bloomberg L.P., Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC), The Oculus, RXR Realty buildings, the Helmsley Building, the Bank of America Tower, One Vanderbilt, Barclays, The Howard Hughes Corporation – The Seaport, 425 Park Avenue, David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York City Fire Museum, New York Comedy Club, Hudson River Museum, Queens Museum, Intrepid Museum, Battery Park City Authority, Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, Weylin, Empire Outlets, Empire State Plaza, State Fairgrounds – Main Gate & Expo Center, Niagara Falls, Albany International Airport Gateway, Lake Placid Olympic Center, MTA LIRR – East End Gateway at Penn Station, Moynihan Train Hall, Walkway Over the Hudson Historic State Park, JFK Air Traffic Control Tower, LGA East & West Parking Garage Facades, LGA East Substation, LGA Terminal C Headhouse, The H. Carl McCall SUNY Building, State Education Building, Alfred E. Smith State Office Building, the PHOENIX rollercoaster at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park in Coney Island, Luna Park in Coney Island, and bridges throughout the state including the Goethals Bridge, Bayonne Bridge, Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, Kosciuszko Bridge, “Franklin D. Roosevelt” Mid-Hudson Bridge, and the Fairport Lift Bridge over the Erie Canal.

  • Six images of buildings and landmarks illuminated in blue

Instagram posts showing several of the landmarks that illuminated in blue as part of Tribute in Lights. 

Beth Hillman speaks to a television reporter on the Memorial plaza

9/11 Memorial & Museum President and CEO Beth Hillman speaks to Fox 5 news on the Memorial plaza.

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

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