Senate passes 9/11 bill inspired by Jericho firefighter
BY SUSANA ENRIQUEZ
March 27, 2009
A volunteer firefighter from Jericho who rushed to the World Trade Center when it was attacked is now the face of legislation that will make Sept. 11 a National Day of Service and Remembrance.
Answering President Barack Obama's call for national volunteerism, the U.S. Senate Thursday passed the Serve America Act, which includes that provision and also encourages people to give their time year-round to tackle national challenges such as education and clean energy.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) included the 9/11 language in the bill in honor of Glenn Winuk, an attorney who worked in an office near the World Trade Center and rushed toward the chaos after the first plane hit. He was killed when the second tower collapsed. He was 40.
"Glenn's remarkable heroism and the countless other acts of bravery on 9/11 must stand as a constant reminder that service and commitment to one's community is every American's solemn duty," Schumer said through a spokesman.
Winuk's brother, Jay Winuk, said he was pleased to hear some good news related to 9/11.
"Today is a good day," said Winuk, 51, who lives in Mahopac. "This is something that many of us have been working toward."
To honor his brother's giving nature and harness the spirit of unity and service in the days following the terrorist attacks, Winuk helped start mygooddeed.org. Since 2002, the organization has connected people with volunteer opportunities on Sept. 11 and has pushed for national recognition of that day as a day of service.
"My brother was a hero," he said. "But you don't have to run into a burning building like my brother did to be heroic. The important thing is to engage in some type of service for someone who is in need."
The bill's counterpart in the House - the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act - passed last week.
That bill's sponsor, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola), said the measure provides a good way for people of all ages to do just that: give. She and Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) also included a provision designating the anniversary of the terrorist attacks as a day of service.
"It's a wonderful way for the country to remember what happened to all of us on Sept. 11 and do some good that day," McCarthy said.
Before heading to the Oval Office for the president's signature, the bills will go to a conference committee that will aim to resolve their differences.
Copyright © 2009, Newsday Inc.