New York City first responders gathered for an emotional prayer vigil at Coney Island’s Wall of Remembrance on Thursday, one day before the 19th anniversary of the deadly attacks of Sept. 11.
Keeping with social distancing guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers of the annual candlelight ceremony at the 9/11 memorial instead held a small observance for mourners to stop by the wall to light a candle, say a prayer, and pay their respects to those lost.
The Wall of Remembrance, located on the western facade of MCU Park, is comprised of three panels, each with its own set of bronze reliefs and laser-engraved portraits of firefighters, law enforcement officers, and various other uniformed volunteers who died on 9/11 while responding to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. In all, the wall memorializes 417 of the city’s fallen first responders.
The memorial is free to visit, and is home to an annual “Night Before” ceremony — which typically allows locals to come together and console each other before a difficult day, one longtime attendee told Brooklyn Paper in 2017.
“It’s comforting and it’s an intimate setting,” said Freyda Markow. “When we gather, it helps us get through the next day. The ceremony is always comforting for us.”
Some semblance of a “Night Before” ceremony has taken place each year since the attacks, and this year was no different. While the event did not draw as many people as in years past, more than a dozen firefighters, police officers, and other first responders attended the scaled-back prayer service to pay their respects.