Bill Designates Sept. 11 As ‘National Day of Service and Remembrance’
March 27, 2009 - 11:52 AM<br />
Sept. 11 will not be a federal holiday. Instead, it will be treated like Martin Luther King Jr. Day: “Individuals, employees, students, members of organizations and others would voluntarily engage in service and remembrance through acts of good deeds, personal and organized service activities and reflection,” said the group that has led a seven-year effort to establish 9/11 as a day set aside for good deeds.
"We are confident that establishing 9/11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance will play a major role in further energizing volunteerism in America, while also bringing a sense of national healing to one of the worst human tragedies in U.S. history," said Jay S. Winuk, co-founder of MyGoodDeed.org and brother of a firefighter/EMT who died when the World Trade Center's South Tower collapsed.
The National Day of Service and Remembrance is included in the Senate’s ServeAmerica Act. That bill and its House companion, the GIVE Act, are now on their way to a conference committee, where any differences will be reconciled. President Obama has said he is eager to sign the final legislation into law.
Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) worked closely with Senators Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), co-sponsors of the ServeAmerica Act, to include language supporting the 9/11 Day of Service observance: “We can take a tragic day in our nation's history and turn it into a force for good," Schumer said in a news release.
The legislation will triple the size of AmeriCorps (to 250,000 from the current 75,000 positions). It also will boost incentives for students and others to “lift up our fellow Americans,” as President Obama put it.
The legislation is expected to cost around $6 billion over five years.
Critics object not only to the price tag but also to the notion of paying people for the kind of jobs that are now done on a volunteer basis.
Conservatives are particularly leery of provisions in the Senate bill that would create five groups or “corps” to “fund national service” in low-income communities, as follows:
A Clean Energy Service Corps would focus on clean energy and conservation; an Education Corps would “improve certain education indicators,” such as student achievement and graduation; a Healthy Futures Corps would improve health care access; an Opportunity Corps would boost financial literacy, access to housing and employment-related services; and an “Encore” program would create incentives for national service participation by people age 50 and older.
It sounds like liberal indoctrination, critics say.
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said volunteerism doesn’t need a prod from Congress: "Could we agree that just maybe there's one area of our society in which we don't have to add more government?" Kyl asked during debate on the measure.
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