The Call for Service: Past, Present, and Future

Many of us are too young to remember President Kennedy’s call to service, but we’re all familiar with those famed words: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”  That proclamation mobilized an entire generation of Do Gooders to the likes rarely seen. The sentiment captured by the President’s words extended well beyond the tireless spirit of the Baby Boomers. It echoed clear through the next fifty years, reverberating louder and louder with each new administration. Just a few years later Jimmy Carter’s commitment to service won the Nobel Peace Prize for fostering “competent and compassionate” government. And while Millennials were probably too young to remember this, we can all recall Jimmy’s shining devotion to service in his Habitat for Humanity commercials.

Or there’s the more familiar example of George W. Bush’s domestic policy of “compassionate conservatism,” realized in the nascent White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Today, President Obama continues to build upon this highly esteemed legacy, introducing the country to Serve.gov; the next evolution in the public service initiative that ‘helps meet growing social needs resulting from the economic downturn.”

In fact, every single American president since John F. Kennedy has harkened a call to service. Over the last five decades public service has become synonymous with American life. It was that sense of unity and willingness and pitch in that got us through the some of the country’s darkest times. Today it’s helping to fulfill the needs neglected by a depressed economy. Despite your political persuasion, volunteerism is remarkably post-partisan. It provides a greater level of social welfare to those individuals not reached by federal programs alone, and it does so with a great savings to the country.

In a time of great desperation that we all face together, what could be more invaluable than rolling up your sleeves and helping those in need? If we’re all willing to pitch in today, whether it’s one hour or one week, just think where we might be another fifty years from now.

- MJ
Professional Do Gooder

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