The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
June 19, 2002

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Jefferson Awards
As Delivered
United States Supreme Court
Washington, D.C.

Thank you. Congratulations to the American Institute for Public Service on your 30-year anniversary. And, congratulations to this year's national award winners.

Their backgrounds are diverse -- a mayor and a teenager are among today's honorees. But whether they wield a gavel or a textbook, their call to serve is the same. And I salute them.

By recognizing these Americans, we also recognize that character and service are national priorities. Service rises from strong character; and a strong character compels us to serve.

We have a responsibility to promote courage, compassion and service. And when we find extraordinary examples of these values, we have the wonderful duty of holding these people up and saying, "This is America at its best."

I have seen many examples of kindness and compassion in our communities, especially over the past nine months. And the people here today are great examples of the best I have seen in America.

In creating national awards for public service - like the Jefferson Award, and the new (President's) Student Service Awards - we reinforce the positive values of our democracy, and we remind each other that one person can make a difference.

President Bush and I want more Americans to make a difference.

President Bush in his State of the Union Address called on every American to dedicate at least two years - or 4,000 hours - over the course of their lives to serving others. I join him in encouraging people to participate in one of the thousands of meaningful volunteer projects: building homes for the homeless, helping feed the hungry, or reading to children who are learning to read.

We ask Americans to consider being a part of the USA Freedom Corps. The Freedom Corps strengthens programs like AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, Learn and Serve America, and the Senior Corps.

Freedom Corps also help people participate in the new Citizens Corps. Americans can find local service opportunities online at: (

We are fortunate to live in a time of great awakening -- a time of realizing what it means to live in this country, and how good it feels to give something back to this place we call home.

Now I have the great pleasure of introducing someone who has given a great deal back to his home. The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis award winner is Reverend John Norwod, from Chicago. Reverend Norwood is known for his work fighting for civil rights in the south in the 1940s and for working with Martin Luther King, Jr.

Reverend Norwood is a former principal and assistant school superintendent who is known for praising and encouraging children for earning good grades. He's never short on hugs, or even financial support for graduating seniors heading off to college. He has spent his life defending the belief that all men are created equal -- that a society can only achieve its full potential when all of its members are educated and allowed to participate.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my honor to present Reverend Norwood.

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