Bill To Make 9/11 A Public Holiday Introduced

Assemblyman Michael Lawler, R-Pearl River, speaks during a news conference in April.

With the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks nearing, legislation has been introduced to make Sept. 11 a public holiday in New York state.

Assemblyman Michael Lawler, R-Pearl River, recently introduced A.8191 to amend several sections of state law to make Sept. 11 a public holiday in New York state. It is the first time the legislation has been introduced since 2003, when legislation was introduced in the state Assembly.

“On September 11, 2001, our state and our nation suffered the worst attack in our Nation’s history. In the wake of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pa.; nearly 3,000 Americans lost their lives, including approximately 400 New York City police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and other rescue personnel,” Lawler wrote in his legislative justification. “The impact on our city, state, and nation cannot be understated. As citizens, we come together to mourn the passing of family, friends and loved ones, but as a nation we unite in our strength and in our perseverance.”

New York already has an official Sept. 11th Remembrance Day each year through legislation passed by the state Legislature and signed into law by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2019. That law is limited in scope, though, to allowing a brief moment of silence in schools in New York state every Sept. 11 to memorialize the terrorist attacks and to allow for classroom dialogue about the attacks.

Nationally, Sept. 11 is not a national holiday but is observed as Patriot Day, which commemorates the lives of those who died in the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Virginia and those who perished when the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania. The holiday also recognizes those who died attempting to rescue people trapped by the attacks. Patriot Day was created through a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress in 2001 and calls for the president of the United States to issue a yearly proclamation requesting that all U.S. flags be flown at half-staff. Americans are also asked to honor the dead with a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, the time that the first airplane struck the World Trade Center, and to respect the ceremonies of remembrance when they are conducted.

Lawler’s bill would treat Sept. 11 the same way New York state treats New Year’s Day, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Lincoln’s birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Juneteenth, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. State offices and schools would be closed.

“Although we will never forget the events of that fateful Tuesday morning, this bill calls for a special day to take time out of our daily routines to pause and to reflect,” Lawler wrote. “As with other national and state holidays in which we reflect upon those who bravely defended our country and our freedoms, so too should we gather to recognize the courage of those members of the NYPD, FDNY, the EMT’s, and all other rescue personnel who threw themselves into harm’s way to save lives. New Yorkers will set September 11th aside to give recognition to cur emergency service personnel who continue to serve as a beacon of hope to the rest of the country and indeed to the rest of the world.”


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