Presidents Obama and Bush (41) Celebrate The Bipartisan Spirit Of Service
Last Friday, President Obama joined President George H.W. Bush in Texas to help commemorate the 20th anniversary of Bush's call for Americans to step forward to volunteer and serve. It was a great evening of idealism and inspiration (and good cheer), hosted in part by our friends at ServiceNation convener Points Of Light Institute.
President Obama honored President Bush for his vision when "he called for those thousand points of light and became the first president to create a White House Office devoted solely to promoting volunteerism." And he went to stress why this spirit of service is so important:
And if anyone here thinks that our government has all the solutions, President Bush and I will be the first to tell you that you'll be sorely disappointed.
Government can build the best schools, with the best teachers -- but we can't run the PTA, or chaperone those field trips, or mentor those kids after school, or have them sit down and do their homework at night. We can pass the most comprehensive health reform bill -- but Congress can't be on the ground in our communities caring for the sick and helping people lead healthier lives.
Government can give our troops the equipment they need, and the pay and benefits that they have earned, and nobody is working harder at doing that than Secretary Gates -- but it can't be there to offer a home-cooked meal to a military family stretched thin, or to make sure our veterans get the respect and appreciation they deserve in their communities when they come home. (Applause.)
In the end, when it comes to the challenges we face, the need for action always exceeds the limits of government. While there's plenty that government can do and must do to keep our families safe, and our planet clean, and our markets free and fair, there's a lot that government can't –- and shouldn't –- do. And that's where active, engaged citizens come in. That's the purpose of service in this nation.
And that's the point I want to emphasize today: that service isn't separate from our national priorities, or secondary to our national priorities –- it's integral to achieving our national priorities. It's how we will meet the challenges of our time.
Full transcript of President Obama's remarks here. Full C-SPAN video here. And the evening in three video installments here. It's great to see two presidents (from different parties) promoting these common values on a national stage.