19th Anniversary Commemoration

The heart of the mission of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum remains the annual commemoration ceremony. Family members of 9/11 victims will gather on the Memorial plaza while adhering to state and federal guidelines regarding social distancing and public gatherings.

A family member places a white carnation in a name on a memorial panel.  His arm is extending into the frame from the left side as he add a carnation to row flowers placed inside the name..
Photo by Jin S. Lee

As in years past, the focus of the commemoration will be the reading of the names. Out of an abundance of caution and in line with the guidance regarding social distancing, we will not ask family members to read the names of victims in person on a stage this year. Recorded readings of the names made by 9/11 family members will instead be used for the 19th anniversary commemoration ceremony. The recordings are part of the Museum’s In Memoriam exhibition and will be used to ensure that each victim is recognized and remembered.

Relatives of 9/11 victims should check the 9/11 family members page to learn more about taking part in the commemoration ceremony and to find any updates.

Throughout the ceremony, we will observe six moments of silence, acknowledging when each of the World Trade Center towers was struck and fell, and the times corresponding to the attack on the Pentagon and the crash of United Airlines Flight 93. Our program will commence at 8:30 a.m., and the first moment of silence will be observed at 8:46 a.m. We will encourage houses of worship to toll their bells at that time.

Provided that we can reopen the Museum in compliance with state and federal parameters, exclusive access to the Museum will again be offered only to families of 9/11 victims on the anniversary. The Memorial will open to the general public following the commemoration ceremony, which is exclusively for family members. Like many other institutions, we are closely monitoring the evolving status of the COVID-19 health crisis and are planning accordingly to ensure safety while maintaining our mission to honor the victims and those who risked their lives to save others.

All visitors to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum must follow our health and safety guidelines

Statement on the 19th Anniversary Commemoration

The reading of the names is at the heart of our mission at the 9/11 Memorial. Given the dangerous health risks associated with large gatherings, we put an enormous amount of thought into how we could hold this year’s event safely. We are committed to a live commemoration that will be as beautiful and meaningful as ever, while also protecting the health and well-being of families. We can and will do both.

The reading of the names is at the heart of our mission at the 9/11 Memorial. Given the dangerous health risks associated with large gatherings, we put an enormous amount of thought into how we could hold this year’s event safely. We are committed to a live commemoration that will be as beautiful and meaningful as ever, while also protecting the health and well-being of families. We can and will do both.

It is of utmost importance to us that any family member who wants to attend the commemoration feels comfortable and safe doing so. Some family members may be at greater risk due to age or other pre-existing conditions, including the lingering health effects caused by 9/11-related illnesses. To protect their health and the health of all who are attending, on the day of the anniversary, we will continue the code of conduct we developed in consultation with medical experts, which includes the mandatory wearing of masks and maintaining social distancing.

In past years, we have used a stage for the readings which has served as a focal point for people to gather around. This year, such gatherings would create a potentially unsafe situation. Moreover, readers would need to remove their masks to read the names, thus potentially putting themselves and others at risk. No matter how we looked at this situation, we came to the same conclusion. Public safety must come first, and that necessitates changes to this year’s program. Our team and expert production staff have consistently delivered magnificent, dignified, and meaningful anniversary observances, and we will do so again this year—albeit with necessary and prudent accommodations for the safety and well-being of all who are able to attend.

This year, the names, read by family members, will be broadcast via speakers placed at multiple locations across the Memorial plaza. Families may choose to stand near their loved ones’ names on the Memorial pools or sit on benches under the trees, without fear of being too close to others, as they listen. The names they will hear were beautifully and lovingly recorded by family members for the Museum’s memorial exhibition, In Memoriam, which honors—with emotion and devotion—every individual killed in the 9/11 and 1993 attacks.

We understand the disappointment that some within the 9/11 community have expressed with this year’s change. Protecting the health and safety of everyone at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum is a great responsibility, and so our decision—as difficult as it was to make—is not to put families, who have already gone through so much, potentially at additional risk, while remaining fully committed to enabling all present to hear the names of their loved ones spoken by family members in the serene and sacred setting of the Memorial.