As one tragedy unfolds, the victims of another horrific event are still being remembered.
Despite the pandemic, every day at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, workers go out and place white roses on the names of victims who would’ve been celebrating their birthdays.
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“Being able to demonstrate that we don’t forget, we don’t forget that these lives were individual people with families and hobbies and careers, challenges, they were people like us who were killed on 9/11, and it’s people like us who are dying every day from this horrible pandemic,” said Alice Greenwald, the President & CEO of National September 11 Memorial and Museum.
The idea of memory is critical to the mission of the memorial and museum, and it’s why the tradition is continuing even as the space is closed to the public.
The organization’s chief financial officer, David Sheehan, performed the emotional task one morning last month, before office workers were sent home and the job was handed to security guards.
“It was interesting, I was sought of placing the names on the roses and I was looking out at the empty memorial plaza that is usually filled with thousands of people,” said Sheehan I wound up feeling a tremendous amount of pride at the thought that I was able to be part of a team of people that were going to be able to keep this very important tradition alive.”
The team includes the florist who has been donating the flowers since the ritual started seven years ago.
Since members of the public, including victims’ relatives, are temporarily prohibited from entering the memorial, the organization has been taking photos of the roses and then sending them to family members who request them.
Every single day of the week, the memorial honors at least two of the nearly 3,000 people who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks.
It’s a staggering toll, but it’s one that has now been dwarfed by area deaths to the coronavirus.
Memorial officials said the public response to the current crisis is similar to that after 9/11, when in the days following the attack, the public cheered first responders.
“The connection with 9/11 is what we call 9/12, which is the way this city and the nation responded after 9/11. We’re seeing 9/12 all over again,” said Greenwald. “Every night in New York City, the fire trucks, the first responders from 9/11 are out there in front of the hospital doors cheering on the medical workers.”