Remembering September 11 amid the coronavirus: virtual services in Guangzhou

TOWNSHIP, GA – Over the years, the nation has come together in ceremonies in Canton and other American communities to commemorate the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

However, as the 19th anniversary of the attacks approaches, the ceremonies will likely look different.

To date, more than 6 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19, prompting community leaders to put in place extra precautions and heightened safety measures at these annual events. While some communities are moving events online, others are canceling events out of caution.

Canton is one of many communities planning virtual September 11 ceremonies amid the pandemic.

Cherokee County Public Safety officials invite the public to join in a virtual Patriot Day ceremony at 8:46 a.m. Friday.

The departure time reflects when the first plane struck the World Trade Center tower 19 years ago.

The ceremony, which has taken place annually since September 2002, is traditionally held at Rotary Park between the historic courthouse and the justice center. To minimize group gatherings while commemorating the 19th anniversary of September 11, officials chose to pre-record and present the ceremony as a video.

“We understand that some do not want to attend group gatherings, and we wanted to make sure that everyone who would like to honor this day with us has the chance,” said Cherokee Deputy Fire Chief Eddie Robinson. “A huge thank you to Justin Webb and everyone who played a part in making this event happen. It is always a special event for me, and I am happy that we can still commemorate him and share memories of this day. . “

This year’s ceremony will feature Sheriff Frank Reynolds, Cherokee Fire Chief Tim Prather, Woodstock Fire Chief Dave Soumas, Cherokee 911 Manager Priscilla Bridges, Cherokee EMA Manager Craig Milsap, Deputy Chief Holly Springs Police Tommy Keheley, Ball Ground Police Chief Bryon Reeves, Canton Police. Chief Stephen Merrifield, Woodstock Police Chief Calvin Moss and School District Police Chief Buster Cushing.

The ceremony also includes District 2 County Commissioner Raymond Gunnin, who will deliver the invocation. Reynolds and Prather will continue the tradition of wreath laying.

The 2020 Patriot Day ceremony will begin Friday at 8:46 a.m., on the official Cherokee County, GA Facebook page and on Facebook Watch. Additionally, the video will be posted on Sheriff Cherokee’s Office YouTube page.

“Please feel free to share the video with your friends and neighbors as we honor those who gave their all to try to save others this Tuesday morning 19 years ago,” Robinson added.


The services organized at the sites of the 9/11 attacks will also be different this year due to the pandemic. Some have already faced a series of obstacles to continue as planned.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to send state health workers to New York to provide oversight at the annual Tribute in Light ceremony, a commemoration of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center .

Cuomo said staff will be on hand to “make sure this year’s tribute goes safely.”
Cuomo’s announcement came just days after officials at the 9/11 memorial and museum canceled the 2020 tribute due to coronavirus concerns.

Now the accent of the New York City Commemoration read the names of the victims. Family members will not read the names in person this year; instead, recorded readings from the museum’s In Memoriam exhibit will be used for the ceremony.

In Arlington County, Virginia, located just outside of Washington, DC, the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial remains closed to visitors due to COVID-19 restrictions. Arlington County typically hosts an annual ceremony of remembrance, which this year will be held virtually. Specific plans for this year’s service will be released the week of September 11, according to county spokeswoman Erika Moore.

In Pennsylvania, the National Park Service will hold an abbreviated ceremony in Shanksville. The 20-minute “Moment of Remembrance” is scheduled to begin at 9.45 am, with no keynote speaker or musical guests.

The names of each passenger and crew member on Flight 93 will be read aloud along with the ringing of “remembrance bells,” according to the agency’s website.

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden plan to visit Shanksville on Friday. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen will attend the 9/11 memorial ceremonies in New York this year.


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Perry A. Thomasson