WEST CHESTER (September 10, 2020) – Legislation unanimously passed by the Pennsylvania Senate this week calls for Pennsylvania public schools to hold a moment of silence in honor of both September 11 and Pearl Harbor Day, state Senator Andy Dinniman said.
“Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks and the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. With each passing day, these events fade into memory for too many. Each year, we have fewer Pearl Harbor survivors with us to bear witness to that dark day. And our schools are now filled with children who have no memory of the September 11 attacks or the days and weeks that followed,” Dinniman said. “But we have an ongoing obligation to remember these events and teach them to our students and young people with accuracy and authenticity and as a testament to the strength and resilience of our nation.”
Senate Bill 869 requires all public schools to hold a moment of silence at some point during the school day to memorialize the thousands of military service personnel, government employees, emergency first responders, and civilians who were killed or wounded as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The bill makes a similar provision for a moment of silence for the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks, memorializing the thousands of military service personnel who lost their lives or were wounded by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
The legislation was unanimously passed by the Senate Education Committee on June 8 and the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 30.
If approved by the House and enacted, the respective moments of silence shall begin with the 2021 school year and continue on any subsequent school year when September 11 or December 7 falls on a school day.
In addition, the bill calls for the Pennsylvania Department of Education to develop voluntary in-service training programs and a model curriculum related to this moment of silence observance for schools. That curriculum would include instruction on the events and significance of September 11, the historical context of terrorism, the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93, the American recovery and response, and the global challenges, changes, and consequences that followed.
Dinniman, who serves as minority chair of the Senate Education Committee, said that in light of current events it was especially important that young people learn about the spirit of unity and resolve that swept across the country after both September 11 and Pearl Harbor.
“We’re facing uncertain times and unprecedented challenges right now. But we’ve faced them before and we’ve gotten through them before by banding together and working together,” Dinniman said. “We all need to be reminded of that from time to time. And these are two days of immense historical significance – days when we have a duty to first remember the fallen and then also reflect on our shared strength and sacrifice in lifting our nation (and each other) back up.”