For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 25, 2006
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. It's graduation time on many college campuses. Members of my administration are traveling around the country to challenge the class of 2002 to make serving their neighbor and their nation a central part of their lives. Earlier today, I spoke to the graduating cadets of West Point, who will provide the ultimate service to our nation as we fight and win the war on terror.
Americans have always believed in an ethic of service. Americans serve others because their conscience demands it, because their faith teaches it, because they are grateful to their country, and because service brings rewards much deeper than material success. Government does not create this idealism, but we can do a better job of supporting and encouraging an ethic of service in America.
During my State of the Union address last January, I asked all Americans to give at least two years, or 4,000 hours over their lives, to serving others. And I created the USA Freedom Corps to help Americans find volunteer opportunities. Whatever your talent, whatever your background, each of you can do something.
America needs retired doctors and nurses who can be mobilized in emergencies; volunteers to help police and fire departments; and transportation and utility workers trained to spot danger. We have created a new Citizen Corps to enable Americans to make their own neighborhoods safer.
America needs citizens working to strengthen our communities. We need more talented teachers in our troubled schools and more mentors to love our children. Through the USA Freedom Corps and the Citizen Service Act introduced in Congress just over a week ago, we will expand and improve the good efforts of AmeriCorps and Senior Corps to meet the needs of America's communities. I urge Congress to act quickly on this good piece of legislation. The USA Freedom Corps is also working with the non-profits and hospitals, houses of worship, and schools around the country that offer millions of Americans the chance to serve others.
And America needs citizens to extend the compassion of our country to every part of the world. So we are renewing the promise of the Peace Corps, doubling its volunteers over the next five years, and asking it to expand its efforts to foster education and development in the Islamic world. We will fight resentment and hatred with hope and progress.
Americans from every walk of life are heeding the call to service. Since my State of the Union address, more than 45,000 Americans have asked for Peace Corps applications. More than 34,000 citizens have signed up for the new Citizen Corps initiative. Applications for AmeriCorps and Senior Corps are also up.
And service knows no age requirement. You're never too old -- or too young -- to help out. One remarkable act of service came from 13-year-old Ashley Shamberger of Aloha, Oregon. A few months ago, Ashley wrote me a letter about the patriotic key chains she and her Mom made and sold to raise money for the children of Afghanistan. She included a check for $270.88, "to save more kids," as she put it. She did all this while hospitalized with cancer. Tragically, Ashley died on the very day her letter reached the White House.
This is the character of our country. This is the soul of our people. This is the nation we love and can honor through acts of service. If you'd like to find opportunities to serve your community, our country, or the world, as so many Americans already have, just contact USAFREEDOMCORPS.GOV, or call 1-877-USA-CORPS.
Thank you for listening.