(NBC News) - In Lower Manhattan, a city which promised to "never forget" paused to Friday, keeping alive the memories of the nearly 3,000 people who died in the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, the heroic rescuers who died trying to save them and those who have passed in the years since from exposure to the toxic chemicals that engulfed the area for months.
This year, the remembrances are different.
COVID-19 forced crowd sizes to be limited. For those who could attend, hand sanitizer and masks were plentiful.
Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden attended the Ground Zero service, where organizers decided for the first time not to have family members read the names of the fallen, in order to maintain social distancing. Instead, a recording of victims' names was played.
That decision spurred a charity group to hold a separate commemoration with family members reading the names live, just steps away.
At the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper laid a wreath dedicated to the 184 people who died there. A giant American flag covered the spot where the hijacked plane crashed into the building.
And in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, President Trump joined the family members of people who died on United Flight 93 for a private memorial service.
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