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Witness Testimony of Michael Bendetson, Constituent Witness on behalf of HR 2498

Can two students help save America from the divisiveness that has paralyzed the political process? We believe we can. Let us all agree that something in this country needs to be changed.  Americans need to become proud of America again and realize how unique America is. We need to re-instill the sense of patriotism and gratitude that is so often missing particularly among young people.  It is with this in mind that we are trying to enlist support for an event unprecedented in American history.  Such an event would accomplish the nearly impossible - unifying a divided America five days after the November presidential election on Sunday, November 11, 2012.  It is an event in which millions of Americans could stand together in unity while at the same time honoring our veterans.

The idea is very simple - a two minute moment of silence at the same time throughout this entire country on Veterans Day to honor our veterans. We have witnessed firsthand in Israel last April the power of such an idea when on their Memorial Day an entire country literally froze and stood at attention for two minutes. The sirens went off in every town, city, and in every neighborhood all over the country. Cars and buses stopped along the highways and factories halted. The Legislative and Supreme Court sessions stopped.  All students, whether in kindergarten, middle school, high school or universities, stood at attention for two minutes.  A similar moment of silence is also observed in England and Canada. This is how a grateful nation recognizes the sacrifices of those who gave their lives for the homeland.

When we returned home to America, we were appalled to see how little is done on November 11 to show our appreciation for those who have given to us so much. Veterans Day has become a day of mattress sales, a regular day of work for many, or a day off from school without any sense of gratitude for those who risked their lives and died for our freedom. We owe so much not only to our courageous Iraq and Afghanistan veterans but also to our Vietnam veterans and our aging Korean and World War II veterans.

It is with this in mind that we have spent the last 18 months trying to bring a similar ritual to this country.  With multiple cosponsors both Senator Scott Brown and Congressman Barney Frank from our home state of Massachusetts introduced identical Bills in the House and Senate  known as The Veterans Day Moment of Silence Act - HR 2498 and S 1348 on July 12, 2011.  This legislation is now pending before the House Veterans Affairs Committee where we have been graciously asked to testify today before the Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs and the Senate Judiciary Committee.  We have received the support and encouragement of the following:

  • Vice President Joseph Biden
  • House Majority Leader Eric Cantor                                                                                                  
  • Senators: Scott Brown, John Kerry, Mark Begich, Robert Casey Jr., John Thune, Joe Lieberman, James Inhofe, Saxby Chambliss, Jim Webb, and Mark Kirk
  • Members of Congress: Barney Frank, Niki Tsongas, Yvette Clarke, Raul Grijalva, Michael Grimm, Stephen Lynch, Edward Markey, Silvestre Reyes, Laura Richardson, Michael Capuano, Timothy Bishop, Frank Giunta, Allen West, and Tom Price.
  • Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich
  • Governors: Deval Patrick, Nikki Haley,  Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, and Buddy Roemer
  • Massachusetts Lt. Governor Tim Murray and Treasurer Steven Grossman
  • Mayors: Rudy Guiliani and Setti Warren
  • Our College Presidents - Mary Sue Coleman, President of the University of Michigan and Anthony Monaco, President of Tufts University

We are one nation with millions of Americans who want to stand together with our President to show unprecedented solidarity with our veterans. Let us hope on 11-11-12 millions of Americans can stand together at the same time with either our re-elected President and his Republican opponent or President Obama and the new President-Elect as the Commander-In-Chief places the wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery at:

2:11 PM on the East Coast

1:11 PM in the Central Time Zone

12:11 PM in the Mountain Time Zone

11:11 AM on the West Coast

10:11 AM in Alaska and

9:11  AM  in Hawaii.

One of the great things about America is that anyone can effectuate change.  Let us help create a sense of unity that transcends partisan politics and create an atmosphere where we can as a civil, respectful country craft bipartisan solutions to issues that need resolution.  This is part of our blueprint for a better America. We have accomplished more than we ever dreamed possible.  With potential NFL involvement on Sunday, November 11, 2012, it our hope and faith that millions of Americans can join our President to honor those who serve America.  Thank you for listening to us.

Daniel Bendetson                                                         Michael Bendetson           

University of Michigan, Class of 2015                            Tufts University, Class of 2012