Groundbreaking National Service Legislation Introduced in U.S. House of Representatives Advocates Establishing September 11 as an Annually Observed National Day of Service
More than seven years after terrorist attacks on America left nearly 3,000 people dead, U.S. Congress took a major step today toward establishing 9/11 as an annually recognized National Day of Service.
Language to transform 9/11 into a National Day of Service and Remembrance has been included as an important provision in the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, or GIVE Act, (H.R. 1388), which was introduced today and authorizes groundbreaking federal support for many innovative national service programs. Under the GIVE Act, the anniversary of 9/11 would be observed in ways similar to Martin Luther King Day. People would voluntarily engage in remembrance through personal and organized service activities and reflection, but 9/11 would not become a federal holiday. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (NY) and U.S. Rep. Peter King (NY-3), both of whom have long supported establishing 9/11 as a national day of service, worked with GIVE Act sponsors U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (NY -04) and U.S. Rep. George Miller (CA-07),Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, to develop the 9/11 language for the bill.
"To transform 9/11 from a day of terrible evil to a day of national service and unity would be nothing short of historic, and today our nation has taken a giant step in that direction with the introduction of the GIVE Act," said David Paine, president and founder of MyGoodDeed.org, the nonprofit founded in 2003 with widespread support of 9/11 family groups to transform September 11 into an annually observed day of service. "A national call to service each 9/11 will remind people of the remarkable spirit of unity we shared as a nation in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, ensuring that future generations understand that 9/11 was not only about evil but also about the remarkable expression of compassion and unity by Americans and people around the world in response to the needs of others for help."
"I have been active in seeking a service day for years," said U.S. Representative Peter King. "America came together in the aftermath of 9/11, reminding us what it truly means to be part of this great nation. By making 9/11 a national day of service, that same spirit of giving will continue in a day of remembrance, unity, and selflessness."
SENATE CONSIDERATION LIKELY
The U.S. Senate presently is considering its own national service bill, known as the Serve America bill (S-3487) introduced by U.S. Senators Edward Kennedy (MA) and Orrin Hatch (UT). Paine said that U.S. Senator Charles Schumer may offer similar 9/11 language for possible inclusion in the Serve America bill. President Barack Obama, in his recent speech to a joint session of Congress, called upon lawmakers to pass national service legislation and present it to him for signature as soon as possible.
"Passage of federal legislation establishing 9/11 as a National Day of Service would surely help bring a sense of healing to one of the worst human tragedies in U.S. history," said Jay S. Winuk, co-founder and vice president of MyGoodDeed.org, and brother of attorney and 9/11 rescuer Glenn J. Winuk, a firefighter/EMT who perished when the WTC's South Tower collapsed. "Just as important, especially considering all the challenges we now face as a country, America would benefit greatly from an annual call to service on 9/11. One can only imagine the positive impact of millions of Americans engaging in service, many for the very first time, in honor of those lost and those who rose to service after the horror of that September morning. The 9-11 family member community is fortunate to have so many leaders in Congress who share our vision of what 9/11 can and should become. We offer our sincerest thanks to our founding Congressional Advisory Board members, Senator Charles Schumer and Rep. Peter King, and to those advancing service in Congress, including U.S. Representatives Carolyn McCarthy, George Miller, Buck McKeon and Doris Matsui."
MyGoodDeed.org, a 501c(3) charitable organization, has lead the seven-year effort to establish 9/11 as a national day of service. To recognize 9/11 and honor the lives of the victims and the efforts of 9/11 volunteers and rescue and recovery workers who rose in service, each year MyGoodDeed.org organizes activities that encourage individuals and organizations to set aside time on the anniversary of 9/11 to perform simple good deeds and service that help others in need. In recent years support for the initiative has grown rapidly. More than one million individuals from all 50 states and more than 150 nations have posted 9/11 service ideas and pledges to perform good deeds on the organization's Web site. Last year MyGoodDeed.org was responsible for securing commitments from Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain to observe a moratorium on political campaigning on 9/11. Both suspended their campaign activities for the day and agreed to appear together at a nationally televised policy forum in New York City organized by ServiceNation, a coalition of more than 200 national and local nonprofit organizations including MyGoodDeed.org. MyGoodDeed.org has also attracted the support of a growing list of leaders from political, corporate, charitable, sports and entertainment communities, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, actor Gary Sinise, and many other prominent individuals.
Former American Idol winner Jordan Sparks, CNN "Showbiz Tonight" host A.J. Hammer, and former New York Giants head coach Jim Fassel joined together on September 11 to lead a MyGoodDeed.org service project in New York City with students at a lower Manhattan public school.
To help support MyGoodDeed.org programs, contributions were made by American Express, Ambac Financial Corporation, Jim Fassel Foundation, Keefe Bruyette and Woods, MBIA, and Sony Corporation. Google, Yahoo, and AOL provide in-kind support in the form of free online public service announcements. Work in support of key 9/11 legislative objectives has been performed by the 9/11 Day of Service Committee, a 501c(4) nonprofit organization.