Eighteen years after that tragic morning on 9/11 New York State has passed a new law mandating schools to observe a moment of silence in remembrance of the horrific attacks. Beginning in 2019, every September 11 New York schools must conduct a reflective hushed moment to inspire heartfelt conversations to assure that new and future generations will never forget.
The deadliest day in U.S. history instantly took almost 3000 lives and saw more than 6000 suffering injuries resulting. In the 18 years since that fateful day an additional more than 2000 have died due to illness related to the hazardous air in Ground Zero. First responders, as well as some living in the area, are known to have passed away from 9/11 associated illnesses.
New York Ground Zero of 9/11 Terror
With New York City as ground zero of the 9/11 attacks, it is fitting for New York state to lead the nation in passing a law based on pledging remembrance. The new state law, approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Sept 9, will make it certain that schools will forever teach the importance of remembering the fateful day.
The law follows a May 22, 2019 state Senate approval of a bill proposed by Queens state Senator Joe Addabbo. The original proposed bill by Addabbo looked to hold an annual day of remembrance on September 11 for city schools. Joining Addabbo in sponsoring the law in the legislature was Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato.
As Addabbo stated:
While it may seem to many of us like the attacks only happened yesterday, it’s important to realize that the vast majority of the children in our schools today weren’t even born when this tragedy occurred.
It is vital to pass on more than just the facts of how many were killed and injured on Sept 11, 2001. Terrorists in hijacked planes hit the World Trade Center like bombs causing the instant collapse of the massive Twin Towers. Shock had barely set in when in the moments following the NY attack the Pentagon was hit.
As the nation barely soaked in the terror occurring, United Airlines Flight 93 was taken control by four al-Qaeda hijackers. Passengers and crew members, alerted about other attacks by phone, fought the terrorists in attempt to take control back of their plane. Those brave travelers lost their lives in a Pennsylvania field as the plane crashed — missing what many believe its target of the U.S. Capitol Building.
9/11 Horror Hits Home
The sparkling sunshine across a picturesque blue sky was remarkable in the metro New York area on the morning of Sept 11, 2001. Driving my route to work I would watch the planes fly over my car’s path as they readied to land at JFK Airport.
I was singing along to music playing on my car radio enjoying the sunshine beauty as an emergency news report broke of a plane hitting the North World Trade Tower. My initial thought was why would a pilot fly so dangerously close to the tall buildings to result in a crash. In an instant, my world changed — calmness turned to disbelief, then shock and terror.
My 20-minute drive from home to work went from singing in my car to pure horror. I grabbed my portable beach radio and carried it into my office listening to more breaking news about a second plane hitting the other World Trade Tower. Our small staff gathered as we heard of a third plane hitting the Pentagon.
It was now evident that terrorists have staged a war hijacking commercial planes and using them as bombs to attack. In shock, we now hear of a fourth plane crashing in a Pennsylvania field as it was taken down by passengers and crew fighting terrorists aboard. Proof of the planes being utilized as bombs came as news reported the total collapse of the towers.
Attacks to our shore just 25 miles away from home — no one knew what to do. Totally in shock, I simply stated that we are at war and rushed to retrieve my then innocent six-year-old daughter from first grade. The school did not phone, yet parents instinctively ran to their children. Hugging and holding my daughter safely to me was of utmost importance.
9/11 Birthed Both New Togetherness and New Fears
Living by the beach, the shore became the place for people to gather that day, and the days to follow, to pray together as we watched the smoke rise from Ground Zero. The skies were filled with the sound of fighter jets as all other aircraft had been grounded. Days turned into weeks of watching the plume of smoke resulting from the worst foreign attack to come to the United States.
With the dissipation of the smoke came a new normal of togetherness to fight these terrorists. Our diverse nation of different religions, nationalities and beliefs came together to aid first responders — our homeland heroes that ran towards the danger to save lives. As the smoke dissipated and months turned into years, new fear began to overshadow that early togetherness.
While many still fought together against the foreign enemy, there became those who grew new racist views out of fear for the radical Islam faction that attacked our country. The New York State law is not only meant to teach school children the importance of not forgetting what happened but also to understand how we came together as a country in the initial response to the attacks.
Explaining his support of the new law, Cuomo states:
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.
Hopefully, this 9/11 law will be the beginning of a new coming together in our nation to use education in an effort to combat against the enemy and not each other. Educating the young generations can be the tool to end fears leading to fighting between diverse citizens within our own country.
To protect the land of the free and the home of the brave has always been the hallmark of America as stated in the story of the history of the “The Star Spangled Banner.”
The new World Trade Center building and monuments rose from the ashes as if a metaphor of the resilience of America. May the nation and the world never forget 9/11.
Originally published at https://nynj.com on September 10, 2019.
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