The lights will be out on the 9/11 memorial in New York City this year. The "Tribute in Light" will not shine due to fears over the coronavirus spreading between those workers who install the memorial.
This excuse is preposterous, especially given how much city officials advocate for mass gatherings of protestors and Mayor de Blasio spent time working outside painting murals intended to piss off Donald Trump.
When lit, the two beams of light, that have shone every year since the first anniversary of the 9/11 terror attack, reach up from the remnants of where the twin towers stood. They were a beacon not only to the resilience of the city and New Yorkers themselves but were in honour of those essential workers who gave their lives to save others on that day.
It's hard not to see the refusal to shine these lights as a direct insult against essential workers, namely, police. The annual ceremony, where the names of those killed in the twin towers that day are read, will also not go forward.
It's not enough that mourners were prohibited by coronavirus restrictions from holding funerals for their loved ones, or to even be with them in their final moments, now the "Tribute in Light" that has given solace to New Yorkers will not shine on the 19th anniversary of the terror attacks.
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum said that the "Tribute in Light" needs a big crew to install it. They said that the risks to workers "were far too great," and that while it was an "incredibly difficult decision," they're keeping the lights off this year.
Broadway is dark, restaurants are dark, ball games, concerts, and any gathering that is not about Black Lives Matter, are all dark. And now the lights that commemorate a tragedy that was so great it brought all New Yorkers together will not brighten the city.
The Black Lives Matter movement, which de Blasio has praised and advocated, specifically targets police abolition. Now, those on the board of directors of the 9/11 Museum, such as former mayor Michael Bloomberg, who chairs the board, has seen fit to darken those thin blue lines that reach up to the sky and speak to the sacrifice of the men and women of the NYPD who died that day.
There hasn't been a year since I've lived in New York that these lights have not given me peace and solace. They are visible from everywhere in the city, these bright beacons reaching up, reaching out, conveying a sense of what we have lost, and what we still hold dear. They are a reminder to bring love, to share grace, and to retain hope as we mourn our dead. Is there anything that could be more fitting this year for a city on the brink of financial ruin, that has lost so many to a disease, than to shine our light for all to see?
New York City may be down, but we are never out. That's what these lights are about. And the fact that the board that oversees this tribute to New York's finest heroes believe there's nothing essential in keeping these candles lit through the darkness is nothing short of insulting.
De Blasio can paint murals. Activists can gather by the tens of thousands. But New Yorkers who wish to commemorate the most tragic day in city history will have to do it the way they've done everything else so far this year, alone.