New York to mark 9/11 anniversary amid pandemic

NEW YORK (AFP) – With crime on the rise, shops and apartments increasingly vacant and homeless people on the sidewalks, New York today will mark the 19th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic and a bitter fight with the White House.

The city will hold its annual ceremony in memory of the nearly 3,000 people who died in the bloodiest terrorist attack in US history, punctuated by a minute’s silence at the exact moments that Al-Qaeda militants crashed two hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Center towers.

Instead of reading out the roll call of the dead, this year the families of victims have recorded themselves. But they will still be present at the ‘Ground Zero’ memorial.

The site museum will also open for the first time since the novel coronavirus brought the city to a standstill in March. Almost two decades after the attacks, September 11 remains synonymous with New York’s heroism and resilience.

City leaders have emphasised the latter in the past months as the Covid-19 infection rate – which killed 23,00 people here, the early epicenter of the disease in the United States (US) – has been lowered to under one per cent.

New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday reminded New Yorkers that their resilience is likely to be tested once again by the social and economic “after-effects” of the pandemic.

President of borough of Manhattan Gale Brewer recognises that the island renowned for its hustle and energy now faces an array of problems.

Some of these stem directly from the coronavirus pandemic: almost all the white collar workers, such as bankers, traders and insurance employees, have been working from home since March. This has emptied Manhattan’s business hubs, leaving thousands of small stores and restaurants without customers.

Boris Tulchinskiy, a 26-year-old software engineer, misses Manhattan but expects to “keep working from home” in neighbouring New Jersey until July 2021.