New York Gov. Cuomo Signs Bill Mandating Public Schools Hold Moment of Silence on 9/11

September 10, 2019 Updated: September 11, 2019

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill this week requiring public schools to hold a moment of silence on Sept. 11 each year in memory of the thousands of lives lost in the terror attacks in 2001.

9/11 was one of the single darkest periods in our nation’s history, and we owe it to those we lost to keep their memory alive. Today I signed legislation establishing an annual day of remembrance and a moment of silence in public schools to ensure we never forget,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The twin bills, S4166 and A1801, established Sept. 11 as Remembrance Day.

The new law allows for a brief moment of silence in public schools across the state at the beginning of the school day every September 11th to encourage dialogue and education in the classroom, and to ensure future generations have an understanding of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks and their place in history, the governor’s office said in a press release.

“By establishing this annual day of remembrance and a brief moment of silence in public schools, we will help ensure we never forget—not just the pain of that moment but of the courage, sacrifice, and outpouring of love that defined our response,” Cuomo said.

Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-N.Y.) who sponsored the Senate bill, said he was grateful that Cuomo signed the legislation.

“I am hopeful that this new law will mean that the significance of the tragic events of September 11th, whether it be the loss of loved ones or the largest rescue operation our nation ever witnessed, will be forever acknowledged by school students too young to have witnessed this life-changing day,” he said in a statement.

New York State Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato added, “Students graduating from High School as part of the Class of 2019 were just newborns during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and soon enough there will be no students in the national public school system born at the time of 9/11.”

“By mandating a brief moment of silent reflection every year, we may ensure that future generations will better understand this day and its significance in our history. Governor Cuomo understands the importance of educating our children about our state and country’s history. I applaud him for signing this bill into law and for his continued partnership,” she said.

According to the Senate bill: “This legislation would mandate a brief moment of silent reflection and in public schools state-wide at the start of the school day on every September 11th to encourage dialogue and education in the classroom, and ensure that future generations have an understanding of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks and their place in the history of our state and the nation.”

September 11 Retrospective
Smoke pours from the twin towers of the World Trade Center after they were hit by two hijacked airliners in a terrorist attack in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. (Robert Giroux/Getty Images)

The act amended the state’s education law, directing the State Education Commissioner to make special provision for the observance of September 11th Remembrance Day in Public Schools. It introduces a subdivision that mandates the commissioner tell public school teachers to observe the brief period of silence, which “shall not be conducted as a religious exercise, but shall be an opportunity for silent prayer or for silent reflection on the anticipated activities of the day.”

On Sept. 11, 2001, the al-Qaeda terrorist group hijacked two planes and slammed them into the Twin Towers in the Manhattan borough of New York City. A third plane hit the Pentagon in Washington and a fourth plane was hijacked but people on board fought against the hijackers and it crashed in western Pennsylvania.

Approximately 3,000 people died that day, including 19 hijackers.

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