January 30, 2002 - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel : Citizens urged to serve their country as volunteers

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Special Reports: President Bush proposes doubling size of Peace Corps [1/29/02]: January 30, 2002 - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel : Citizens urged to serve their country as volunteers

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Citizens urged to serve their country as volunteers

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Citizens urged to serve their country as volunteers

Jan 30, 2002 - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Citizens urged to serve their country as volunteers

Bush's call echoes plans of his father, JFK and even McCain

Associated Press, Knight Ridder News Service

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Washington -- Echoing his father's "points of light" speech, President Bush urged Americans to spend two years in the service of others -- possibly in a new organization meant to reinforce emergency response efforts during disasters.

The request came during Bush's State of the Union address Tuesday night at the Capitol. Bush said the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States caused Americans to look in the mirror and remember their obligations to each other, the country and history.

Now is the time to act, he said.

"My call tonight is for every American to commit at least two years -- 4,000 hours over the rest of your lifetime -- to the service of your neighbors and your nation," Bush said.

Bush suggested joining USA Freedom Corps, a new umbrella organization that will bolster the existing volunteer corps and help with homeland security.

"America needs retired doctors and nurses who can be mobilized in major emergencies, volunteers to help police and fire departments, transportation and utility workers well-trained in spotting danger," Bush said.

Freedom Corps hopes to draw 200,000 volunteers to expand AmeriCorps and Senior Corps -- two groups that operate domestic service projects.

Bush also said he wanted to double the number of Peace Corps volunteers over the next five years, and he asked the group to join "a new effort to encourage development, education and opportunity in the Islamic world."

The nation has received calls to volunteerism from presidents before.

During his successful 1988 campaign, George H.W. Bush called on Americans to volunteer their time to service and become "points of light." Bush's father serves as honorary chairman of the board for the Washington-based Points of Light Foundation.

Former President John Kennedy made several calls for Americans to join volunteer groups. In his inaugural speech, he said, "Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country."

Bush said the nation had revived that sentiment since Sept. 11.

"For too long, our culture has said, 'If it feels good, do it,' " Bush said. "America is embracing a new ethic and a new creed: 'Let's roll.' We want to be a nation that serves goals larger than self."

Bush was quoting Todd Beamer, one of several passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 on Sept. 11 who made phone calls before the plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.

Beamer ended his conversation with an operator by dropping his phone and saying, "Let's roll!"

While Bush seemed inspired by Kennedy's Peace Corps and by former President Bill Clinton's AmeriCorps, he also borrowed freely from his 2000 presidential primary foe, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). McCain ran on a platform of reform and service to a "cause greater than ourselves."

Echoing McCain's appeal, Bush said: "We want to be a nation that serves goals larger than self."

In November, McCain and Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) recommended expanding AmeriCorps to 250,000 volunteers, with more than half of them devoted to homeland security.

Bush offered few funding details for his plan, but the initial reaction from McCain and Bayh aides was that it appeared to track with the senators'. Bush was expected to offer more specific proposals for his volunteer service plan today during a trip to North Carolina and Florida.

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