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The President has just signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act
, joined by Senator Kennedy, President Bill Clinton, the Congressional leaders who supported the legislation, and countless others dedicated to passage of the bill at the SEED School, where service is a core part of the curriculum. Appropriately, the President announced a major call to service:
A week from tomorrow marks the 100th day of my administration. In those next eight days, I ask every American to make an enduring commitment to serving your community and your country in whatever way you can. Visit WhiteHouse.gov to share your stories of service and success. And together, we will measure our progress not just in number of hours served or volunteers mobilized – but in the impact our efforts have on the life of this nation.
He spoke to Senator Kennedy, and his entire family, commending them as an icon of service and self-sacrifice in America. He spoke to Republican Senator Orrin Hatch for his role in conceiving of the bill. And he spoke to those in Chicago who taught him the virtues of service as a community organizer.
He spoke to the youth, and all those who are already engaged:
I’ve met countless people of all ages and walks of life who want nothing more than to do their part. I’ve seen a rising generation of young people work and volunteer and turn out in record numbers. They’re a generation that came of age amidst the horrors of 9/11 and Katrina; the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; an economic crisis without precedent. And yet despite all this, or more likely because of it, they have become a generation of activists possessed with that most American of ideas – that people who love their country can change it.
He spoke to those who are not yet engaged:
It’s as simple as that. All that’s required on your part is a willingness to make a difference. That is, after all, the beauty of service. Anyone can do it. You don’t need to be a community organizer, or a Senator -- or a Kennedy – or even a President to bring change to people’s lives.
And he spoke to the larger moment our country faces:
We need your service, right now, at this moment in history. I’m not going to tell you what your role should be; that’s for you to discover. But I’m asking you to stand up and play your part. I’m asking you to help change history’s course. Put your shoulder up against the wheel. And if you do, I promise you – your life will be richer, our country will be stronger, and someday, years from now, you may remember it as the moment when your own story and the American story converged, when they came together, and we met the challenges of our new century.
As the President explained, the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act is about "connecting deeds to needs" – it will open tremendous new avenues of opportunity for Americans to help their country get back on the right track in those many areas where government cannot do it all.
(President Barack Obama meets with Senator Kennedy and former President Clinton to discuss national service. April 21, 2009. White House Photo/ Chuck Kennedy.)