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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the President and the First Lady on Volunteering on National Day of Service

Burrville Elementary School
Washington, D.C.

12:46 P.M. EST

     THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  Well, this is a good-looking crew here.  (Applause.)  First of all, we just want to acknowledge Burrville Elementary School -- (applause) -- and the principal here, Tui Roper, who is doing outstanding work.  (Applause.)  If you see Tui, you may think she’s a student, but no, she’s the principal. 

     As I look around the room, I see friends from all across the country, people who have been such great supporters of ours, but more importantly, everybody here -- adults to children -- understand the importance of giving back.  And as we think about not so much Inauguration, but we think about the fact that this is Dr. King’s birthday that we’re going to be celebrating this weekend, I’m always reminded that he said, everybody wants to be first, everybody wants to be a drum major; but if you’re going to be a drum major, be a drum major for service, be a drum major for justice, be a drum major for looking out for other people.  (Applause.)

     And organizations like City Year -- (applause) -- the Corporation for National Service -- (applause) -- all the great work that’s being done day in, day out shows that there’s a huge hunger on the part of young people to get involved and to get engaged.  And it was interesting -- we were talking to one of the young people, I was staining a shelf --

     MRS. OBAMA:  He did a fine job.

     THE PRESIDENT:  And Michelle says I did a fine job.  (Laughter and applause.)  And one of the City Year folks, I was talking to them, I said, how’d you get involved, they said, our parents every holiday we’d always do service and so I was taught at a very young age.  So the fact that we’ve got some outstanding young people here today, I want to say thank you to the parents for showing early on to all our young people how gratifying and how fulfilling this is. 

This is really what America is about.  This is what we celebrate.  This Inauguration we’re going to be -- it’s a symbol of how our democracy works and how we peacefully transfer power, but it should also be an affirmation that we’re all in this together and that we’ve got to look out for each other and work hard on behalf of each other.

     So we’re thrilled that all of you are here.  We hope you guys are having a great time.  (Applause.)  I hear reports that the very young people did some really good work and some of the older folks like me, who it hurt getting our knees kind of bending down a little bit, we were able to manage also, and somehow Michelle looked stylish the whole time she was doing it.  (Applause.) 

     So, Mich, you want to say a few words?

     MRS. OBAMA:  You all, thank you so much.  It’s wonderful to have such great turnout for this day of service.  And I know that we have a lot of family members in the audience -- (applause) -- and we always force our family, when they come up and do something really cool, they have to serve and they do it happily.  So I’m proud of our families for always being there for us.  We love you guys. 

     So as Barack said, this is a weekend of celebration, but through it all we have to remember that the reason why we’re here, why we’re standing here, why we’re able to celebrate this weekend is because a lot of people worked hard and supported us.  And we’ve got a job to do.  And this is a symbol of the kind of work that we need to be doing for the next four years and beyond. 

(Loud crash.)

THE PRESIDENT:  That was a cameraman.

MRS. OBAMA:  That was the press.  This is press.  (Laughter.)  It’s okay, though, it’s okay.  Hope you didn’t break it.  (Laughter.)

So for all the young people, and we’ve got a lot of young people -- City Year members, the students here at this school -- as Barack says, we’re passing the baton onto you all.  So the goal is, is that as you make your way through life, who are you pulling up behind you?  And as long as you’re pulling somebody up behind you, you’re doing the right thing.

So thank you all.  We’re very proud of you and we’re going to come down and shake some hands. 

                                                              END              12:52 P.M. EST