BEL AIR, MD — Over the years, the nation has come together at ceremonies in Bel Air and other U.S. communities to recognize the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
However, as the 19th anniversary of the attacks arrives, ceremonies are likely to look different.
To date, more than 6 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19, prompting community leaders to put extra precautions in place at these annual events, move ceremonies online or cancel.
Bel Air is one of many communities planning an in-person event amid the pandemic.
County employees will gather for a brief ceremony outside the county government administrative building at 220 South Main Street in Bel Air. The public is welcome to attend, provided people maintain social distancing and wear face coverings when appropriate, organizers say.
The remembrance event will include a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. on Sept. 11, the same time the first plane struck the World Trade Center in New York City in 2001.
“The coronavirus pandemic continues to bring challenges to our families and communities, and on Friday we will recall another time when our country was hit by an unprecedented attack,” County Executive Barry Glassman said in a statement. “As we remember the innocent victims of that tragic day, let us also remember that our nation has weathered many storms. As always, the best way forward is together.”
Services held at 9/11 attack sites will also look different this year because of the pandemic.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to send state health personnel to New York City to provide supervision during the annual “Tribute in Light” ceremony, a commemoration of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. The focus of the event will be on reading the names of victims. Family members will not read the names in person this year; instead, recorded readings from the museum’s In Memoriam exhibition will be used for the ceremony.
In Arlington County, Virginia, the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial remains closed to visitors because of COVID-19 restrictions. Arlington County typically holds an annual remembrance ceremony, which this year will be held virtually.
In Pennsylvania, the National Park Service will hold an abbreviated ceremony at Shanksville. The 20-minute “Moment of Remembrance” is set to begin at 9:45 a.m., without a keynote speaker or musical guests. The names of each passenger and crew member from Flight 93 will be read aloud with the ringing of the “Bells of Remembrance,” according to the agency’s website.
Both President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden plan to visit Shanksville on Friday. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, will attend Sept. 11 memorial ceremonies in New York this year.
— By Megan VerHelst and Elizabeth Janney
This article originally appeared on the Bel Air Patch