In humble attempt at casting this in the tradition of Socrates, a (slightly altered) quote:

"The unexamined vote is not worth casting."

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Service-Oriented President, Finally

In a time of big Thanksgiving meals for many of us, Barack, our coming President (I can't get over saying that yet, it's great), focused on those without much to eat--it's exactly the service-oriented leadership our leader-hungry country needs. From here on his website:

Saying he wanted his two daughters "to learn the importance of how fortunate they are and make sure they are giving back," President-elect Obama and his family volunteered at a food pantry near their home on the South Side of Chicago this afternoon.

St. Columbanus Church, where President-elect Obama has volunteered before, feeds nearly 500 people a week. But he pointed out that times are particularly tough.

"The number of people who are getting food this year is up 33 percent," he said. "It gives a sense times are tough -- and I think that on Thanksgiving it's important for us to remember there's a need for support."

When a group of children appeared in the window of the church's school, President-elect Obama decided to visit the school's auditorium, where hundreds of the school's students quickly assembled.
I love that this also shows his understanding of the need for parents to really teach their children about some of the many, many issues affecting so many in our country and world. Here are some pictures of the event.

Beyond that though, as you can see in this screenshot, one of the nine main categories on his website is titled "America Serves"--they don't just give those categories away to any old subject, it's got to have some heavy merit to get in there with ones like "Agenda", "Jobs" and "About." Good stuff President-Elect, good stuff. From the "America Serves" part of his website (where it also has a place, mentioned below, to fill in your information to stay informed about coming service initiatives):

" 'When you choose to serve -- whether it's your nation, your community or simply your neighborhood -- you are connected to that fundamental American ideal that we want life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness not just for ourselves, but for all Americans. That's why it's called the American dream.'

As the new administration takes shape, Barack Obama and Joe Biden will call on Americans from every walk of life to serve. President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps and will create new service organizations to meet the nation's challenges head on:

* a Classroom Corps to help underserved schools
* a Health Corps to serve in the nation's clinics and hospitals
* a Clean Energy Corps to achieve the goal of energy independence
* a Veterans Corps to support the Americans who serve by standing in harm's way

Obama and Biden will call on citizens of all ages to serve. They'll set a goal that all middle school and high school students engage in 50 hours of community service a year, and develop a plan for all college students who engage in 100 hours of community service to receive a fully-refundable tax credit of $4,000 for their education. Obama and Biden will encourage retiring Americans to serve by improving programs available for individuals over age 55, while at the same time promoting youth programs such as Youth Build and Head Start.

The Obama-Biden administration's volunteer initiatives are still taking shape, but take a moment now to let us know that you're interested, and we'll keep you posted on all the latest developments.

Enter your information below [link here] to let us know you're interested in serving the nation -- and contributing your energy and efforts to confronting the problems we face together."
Now President Barack Obama signified his seriousness about this issue when he pushed MLK Day into the spotlight January 19th, the day before his inauguration, as a day of nationwide service--hell, they even started a website for it: He noted that this should set the tone for a return to service in our country as a value, stating the following in this set of brief remarks he gave on that day:

"So today, I am asking you to roll up your sleeves and join in the work of remaking this nation. I pledge to you that government will do its part to open up more opportunities for citizens to participate. And in return, I ask you to play your part – to not just pitch in today, but to make an ongoing commitment that lasts far beyond one day, or even one presidency.

And to those who are skeptical about whether this will happen – to anyone who thinks that the American people are selfish or apathetic – I invite them to come here to Coolidge High School and to the more than 11,000 other places across this country where people have spent today fixing up schools and renovating homes and organizing food drives and blood drives and so much more. I see what the American people are doing today and every day. So don’t tell me that we can’t usher in a new spirit of service in this country.

I know we can do this."

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