New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the annual tribute in light near the site of the World Trade Center will continue as planned, two days after the September 11 Memorial & Museum said it wouldn't mark the tradition this year due to concerns surrounding the pandemic.
A representative for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum said Thursday organizers were concerned about the health and safety of the employees who would have to work in close proximity to set up the tribute. The group had said it would instead work on an alternative tribute to pay respects to the victims on the 19th anniversary of the tragedy.
The decision prompted some backlash, with thousands signing various petitions to get the 9/11 remembrance back on the calendar.
"Those lights brighten up the night sky every year also to remind us of those who sacrificed putting our city back together, after picking up the pieces," said one of several petitions on change.org. "Those lights need to light up the sky for 9/11/2020!"
Cuomo announced the tribute was back on the docket in a tweet on Saturday. He said the state will provide health and safety personnel and supervision to ensure the team working on the tribute follows best practices during the pandemic.
"I am glad that we can continue this powerful tribute to those we lost on 9/11 and to the heroism of all New Yorkers. We will #NeverForget," Cuomo wrote on Twitter.
"The virus has taken so much and so many. But now the tribute will continue," he said.
Cuomo's pledge to help comes one day after The Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a non-profit honoring military and first responders, said Friday it would stage the light tribute on Sept. 11 and the live reading of the names of the victims.
"The twin beams of light that shine over lower Manhattan in silent tribute to those lost on 9/11 are an iconic symbol of hope visibly showing that light will always triumph over darkness," said Frank Siller, chairman and chief executive of the foundation.
The decision to continue with the tribute amid the pandemic was applauded by many on social media.
"Thank You Governor, from those of us who lost family and friends on that Tuesday Morning," one person replied to the governor's tweet.
"When I read NYC cancelled this my heart hurt almost as much as it did on 9/11 - 19 years ago - and I was left with many of the same questions - Why? How could this happen?" one Twitter user wrote in response to Tunnel to Towers. "Thank you for stepping up to make sure we Never Forget. I certainly never will!"