WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of House and Senate Members today announced legislation to establish a two-minute moment of silence on Veterans Day to commemorate the sacrifice of United States veterans. The bill was introduced jointly by Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), Senator Scott Brown (R-MA), Senator Jim Webb (D-VA), Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA) and Congressman Frank Guinta (R-NH).
The legislation was crafted in response to a request by Mr. Peter Bendetson, M.D., of Weston, Massachusetts, and his two sons, Michael Bendetson, a junior at Tufts University, and Daniel Bendetson, a senior at Weston High School. The father and sons got the idea for the bill while visiting Israel, which honors its veterans with a national two-minute moment of silence. The family found the experience deeply moving, and so after returning to the U.S. they approached Congressman Barney Frank and Senator Scott Brown about instituting a similar observance in the United States.
Frank and Brown agreed to organize efforts in Congress to introduce a bill, and quickly reached out to their colleagues. They were soon joined by Senator Webb, a Marine combat veteran and former Secretary of the Navy, Senator Lieberman, a Subcommittee Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, and Congressman Frank Guinta, who represents a large veteran population in New Hampshire. The six Members of Congress are the core group which will seek further bipartisan support for the bill.
The “Veterans Day Moment of Silence Act” would direct the President to issue a proclamation every year calling on Americans to observe a two-minute moment of silence at exactly 2:11 Eastern time on Veterans Day, which is celebrated on November 11th.
Congressman Frank will introduce the bill in the House; Senator Brown will introduce a concurrent, identical companion bill in the Senate. The six members of Congress hope that it will pass both houses of Congress and be signed by the President before this Veterans Day on 11/11/2011.
“I was very impressed when Peter Bendetson and his sons came to me with this idea, and I’m pleased that there is a bipartisan effort to get the legislation enacted,” said Frank. “It will add to our observance of Veterans Day in a very profound way.”
“Veterans Day is an opportunity for all Americans to come together to honor the service of those who have answered the call of duty to keep our nation free,” said Senator Brown. “I am pleased to join this bipartisan, bicameral legislation that all began when two kids from Massachusetts were inspired to find a new way to thank the veterans who served our nation.”
“This legislation renews a tradition that began after World War One, when the citizens of many countries would observe a moment of remembrance on the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month -- the moment the Armistice was signed,” said Webb. “It is an appropriate gesture to honor those who serve and have served.”
"A moment of silence and reflection is just one of the many ways we can show our deep gratitude for the countless sacrifices that veterans have made to secure our liberty," Lieberman said. "I am honored to join my colleagues to introduce this bill."
“This simple yet powerful recognition of our service members who have given their lives in defense of our country would be a highly appropriate addition to Veterans Day observances,” said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the months ahead on this issue.”
“America can never repay its debt to the men and women who laid down their lives for our freedom,” said Congressman Guinta. “Pausing for two minutes every November 11th is an important way of honoring their sacrifice and for keeping their memory alive in our hearts.”