Critics Say Designation Would Distract From Day's True Meaning

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — For more than a decade, people have come to the World Trade Center site on Sept. 11 to reflect and remember. But this year, one voice among many called for something greater.

“It’s time we make 9/11 a national holiday,” Douglas Hamatie, who lost his cousin in the attacks, said to an applause during the reading of the victims’ names Wednesday. “The kids these days, they know when the next iPhone is coming out. They know when the next Justin Bieber concert is. But they don’t know enough about 9/11. So let’s change that please.”

Sabrina Barthold, who came to Ground Zero to teach her three kids about the tragedy, agreed, telling CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider children are not being taught enough.

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“They don’t really learn much about it at school,” she said. “They reflect for a five-minute moment of silence, and that’s it. They’re not really talking about it, and they need to know.”

Congress labeled Sept. 11 a “national day of service and remembrance” several years ago. But some say that adding it to the list of federal holidays might eventually strip the day of its true meaning.

“It’ll become like Memorial Day,” said Scott Brown, of Forest Hills. “It will be moved to a Monday, and it will be a day to barbecue or whatever. But gradually people will forget what it is.”

Designating 9/11 a holiday would also cost the government about $400 million in employee pay and lost productivity, analysts say.

But Paul Levinson, a communications professor at Fordham University, said money should not be a deterrent. He predicts 9/11 will in fact become a national holiday in the next few years.

“We need time for our souls in the largest possible sense,” he said. “Money is important. I like money. I want to make as much money as possible, just like anyone else, but that’s not all there is to life.”

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