Reps. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.) and Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) introduced legislation on Thursday to establish a public holiday to be known as National First Responders Day.
Maffei began working on the legislation after he was contacted by Fulton, N.Y., resident Beverly Belton after first responders saved her from a house fire in 2013.
"Every day first responders in Central New York and across the country risk their lives to keep our communities safe, and they deserve a day of recognition to honor their bravery and sacrifice," Maffei said. "This bill is one meaningful way that we can show our gratitude for their service. It is also a testament to the difference that everyday citizens across Central New York can make, and I'm thankful that Ms. Belton brought this great idea to my attention. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in supporting this important legislation."
The bill would require the president to assign a day to be observed as National First Responder day, which would have the same status as other legal public holidays.
"I absolutely believe that our first responders deserve this day," Belton said. "For them, protecting our communities isn't just about a job or a paycheck; they are caring people who are there for us, protecting us day and night. I am thrilled at how hard Rep. Maffei and his staff have worked on this issue and so grateful for what they have done, and I'm going to continue working to spread awareness about this bill so we can get it passed into law."
Capuano worked on the bill with the family of Officer Sean Collier, who was killed on April 18 during the Boston Marathon Bombing.
"When Officer Collier's family first approached us with this request, they explained that they wanted the legislation to be about all of the men and women who have protected us over the years, not just about what happened in Boston last April," Capuano said. "That is the reason we are leaving the choosing of a date up to the President. First responders put their lives on the line for us every day without regard for their own safety."