9/11 20th Anniversary Commemorations: How the Date Will Be Marked This Year

Twenty years on from the 9/11 terror attack, various commemorations, from performances to exhibitions, are scheduled to take place this month.

The terror attack on September 11, 2001 was carried out by members of the Al-Qaeda group instructed by Osama bin Laden. The attack killed nearly 3,000 people, including all 19 terrorists.

The attack saw four planes hijacked by the Al-Qaeda members, including two that crashed into the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.

A third aircraft hit the Pentagon. A fourth plane (Flight 93) crashed in a field in southern Pennsylvania.

The main commemorative events include the memorial services being held on September 11 at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City and at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania.

Here we take a look at some of the other 9/11 commemorations taking place to mark the anniversary.

9/11 Documentary Screenings

On September 11 at 1 p.m. local time, the Museum of the City of New York, located in the New York City borough of Manhattan, will host a screening of two recent short documentary films about 9/11 and its aftermath.

The films include Chief from Harvey Wang and Robert Maass, which looks at the life of Bill Feehan—the highest-ranking and oldest New York City fire official killed in the 9/11 attack.

The graphic below, produced by Statista, shows the number of World Trade Center-related deaths among firefighters in the FDNY (Fire Department of the City of New York).

A graphic showing health impact of 9/11.
STATISTA

The other film to be screened is In the Shadow of the Towers: Stuyvesant High on 9/11 from Amy Schatz, which looks at how events unfolded on September 11 from the perspective of the teenage students at Stuyvesant High School. The school is located just a few blocks from where the World Trade Center towers stood.

The 2018 funeral of a FDNY firefighter.
Members of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) line 4th Avenue in New York City in 2018 for the funeral of firefighter Thomas Phelan, who worked as a Statue of Liberty ferry boat captain helping to evacuate thousands of stranded citizens from Lower Manhattan during the 9/11. He joined the FDNY in 2003. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

9/11 Boatlift Tribute

On September 10, the New York Council Navy League will hold a "9/11 Boatlift 20th Anniversary Tribute," which aims to honor the heroes who participated in "history's largest maritime evacuation, the Great Boatlift of 9/11," the 9/11 Memorial & Museum explains.

The mass evacuation was facilitated by ordinary American citizens who risked their own lives by using their own boats and ferries to help transport those stuck at the southern end of Manhattan during the 9/11 attack.

The tribute event begins at 1:00 p.m. local time at the American Merchant Mariners' Memorial in Battery Park in Manhattan. It will include a shoreside ceremony, vessel procession and blessing of the fleet, according to the New York Council Navy League website.

Smoke from 9/11 terror attack in 2001.
Smoke rises over the New York City skyline from the scene of the 9/11 attack in 2001, as seen from a tugboat evacuating people from Manhattan to New Jersey. Hiro Oshima/WireImage

Ritual For Peace Performance

The Buglisi Dance Theatre and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in Manhattan, in partnership with Dance/NYC, will showcase a live streamed performance of the Table of Silence Project 9/11, "an annual free public performance ritual for peace" conceived and choreographed by Jacqulyn Buglisi, the artistic director of the Buglisi Dance Theatre.

The Lincoln Center website explains: "The socially distanced performance will begin this year with an excerpt of Ms. Buglisi's masterwork Requiem, created in 2001 as an immediate response to 9/11 and performed live at Lincoln Center this year. Premiering in the shadow of tragedy, Requiem became a vehicle for collective healing."

The live performance is described as a "reimagined Table of Silence Prologue ritual, created in 2020," and will see 32 dancers encircle the Lincoln Center's Revson Fountain.

The performance will be live streamed from Lincoln Center at 8:00 a.m. local time on September 11. It will be available to view at the website and Facebook page of Lincoln Center.

A 9/11 tribute performance at Lincoln Center.
The Table of Silence Project 9/11 tribute performance at Lincoln Center seen on September 11, 2013 in New York City. Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2014

9/11 Photo Exhibition at Foley Gallery

From September 10 to 26, the Foley Gallery in Manhattan will feature the exhibition "Sacred Dust: Photographs by Henry Leutwyler."

In cooperation with the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, Leutwyler was commissioned by National Geographic to explore the museum's archive of more than 70,000 "objects, remnants and remembrances" recovered from the 9/11 attack, which have been captured in this series of photographs.

"Some are identifiable, and others remain fragments of their former selves. Many have never been seen by the general public," the Foley Gallery website says.

Garden Poetry Readings

Visitors to the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx can access a "Garden Pass" on September 11, which offers free admission from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. local time in honor of the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

There will also be a moment of silence observed at 10:30 a.m. local time at the venue, followed by readings from Bronx Poet Laureate Haydil Henriquez at 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. local time, according to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum website.

Guests can also view the venue's September 11 Memorial Tree, a white oak that was planted in the Everett Children's Adventure Garden on the first anniversary of the attack to commemorate Bronx residents and workers who died on 9/11, according to the museum website.

The Garden Pass is not available online but can be picked up at any ticket window at the venue before 12 p.m. local time.

Flight 93 Candle Ceremony

At 7:30 p.m. local time on September 10 at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania, 40 luminaria candle lanterns will be lit and placed below the names of each of the passengers and crew members of Flight 93, dramatically illuminating the Wall of Names at Memorial Plaza.

The National Park Service (NPS) website says: "This is a respectful tribute and peaceful time to reflect and remember those who were lost on September 11, 2001."

The Johnstown Symphony Orchestra will perform a musical accompaniment for the candle ceremony, playing the music of Gustav Mahler, Samuel Barber and George Walker, according to the NPS website.

Flight 93 National Memorial's Luminaria candle ceremony.
Visitors gather to pay respects during the Flight 93 National Memorial's Luminaria candle lantern lighting ceremony in 2017 in Pennsylvania. Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Witness Speaker Series

The "Witness to History" speaker series held at the Flight 93 National Memorial will feature talks from different figures recounting their experience of the 9/11 attack.

Among the talks is "'A Monumental Task': The Military and Civilian Air Response on September 11, 2001" on September 9. The talk will see panelists from NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) "recount their roles in defending American airspace," according to the NPS website.

The "'Large Plane Down!': First Responders to Flight 93" on September 12 will see local first responders share memories of arriving at the crash site and how it impacted their lives, the website says.

Flight 93 memorial in Pennsylvania.
Memorial bells being rung once after each victim's name is spoken at the Flight 93 National Memorial on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attack back in 2016 in Pennsylvania. Jeff Swensen/Getty Images