NASHVILLE — Saying the nation pledged 20 years ago that "we would never forget" the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the country, U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., believes Congress needs to stand by that promise by making the date a legal public holiday.
In an effort to make it happen, the Brentwood lawmaker has introduced the "Sept. 11 Day of Remembrance Act."
"Twenty years ago, we watched as terrorists brutally attacked our nation," Blackburn said in a news release. "The United States pledged we would never forget Sept. 11, 2001. This legislation will uphold that promise to our heroes."
The legislation, filed as Senate Bill 2735, has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., said the 9/11 attacks "forever changed our lives, our nation and the world."
He noted that "as time passes, pain eases and more and more Americans are either too young to remember or were not yet born, we cannot allow the memories to fade or fail to honor the ordinary Americans who became extraordinary heroes on that September morning and in the years that followed."
Making Sept. 11 an official Day of Remembrance "will ensure that future generations recognize and appreciate the tragedy, sacrifice and resilience associated" with the date, Zeldin added.
Only Congress has authority to designate a federal holiday. The federal government now recognizes 11 annual federal holidays plus the once-every-four-years inauguration of the president when federal employees working in the Washington, D.C., area get a holiday.
During a federal holiday, non-essential federal government offices are closed and most full-time workers are paid.
While Congress' authority is restricted to the federal government institutions, stock market trading is often suspended during a federal holiday. State and local governments may choose to observe them as well, according to the federal Office of Personnel Management.
The most recently created federal holiday came June 19, 2021, when President Joe Biden signed into law legislation passed by Congress establishing the Juneteenth National Independence Day Holiday. It commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the U.S. It is pegged to June 19, 1865, when slaves in Texas learned President Abraham Lincoln had freed them in 1863 when he issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebelling Southern states "are, and henceforward shall be free."
At the time the holiday was approved, Forbes reported that the cost of a federal holiday is $818 million, excluding the military and U.S. Postal Service.
In addition to Juneteenth, the other federal holidays are:
— New Year's Day (Jan. 1).
— Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. (third Monday in January).
— Washington's Birthday (third Monday in February).
— Memorial Day (last Monday in May).
— Independence Day (July 4).
— Labor Day (first Monday in September).
— Columbus Day (second Monday in October).
— Veterans Day (Nov. 11).
— Thanksgiving Day (fourth Thursday in November).
— Christmas Day (Dec. 25).
Contact Andy Sher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-255-0550. Follow him on Twitter @AndySher1.