There is no greater honor that any of us can receive than to be acknowledged for our service to our community. In fact, there is no greater reward in life in my opinion than that of service to your fellow man. And today, as all of you know, there is no greater need in our society than to be of service to one another.
We live in a time when so many Americans are hurting. Competition for jobs and economic insecurity are increasing, as we face mounting geopolitical threats from almost every corner of the globe. The pressure simply to survive is growing. In many of my conversations with my bosses I sense a tangible sense of fear and anxiety from the poor to those working Americans struggling to remain in the middle class. People are asking whether the American dream is still within reach. I believe that it is, but we are going to have to work a lot harder to achieve it. That's why service to one another is so important. It will take our collective energies and devotion to the shared prosperity of each other to assuage those concerns.
Despite the myriad of challenges we face, I am also deeply optimistic. That optimism is emboldened when I hear about the works being done by so many in our communities. They are teaching our youth how to express themselves through sports, music and theater rather than in combative ways. They are feeding the less fortunate and teaching culinary life skills that translate into future employment opportunities. They are preparing our children for college by refusing to believe that there is such a thing as a “disposable life” in our society. They are supporting our veterans and ensuring that long after the battle is over that we never forget our debt of obligation to them for their service. And, more importantly they are walking a life of service worthy for us all to emulate.
This spirit of service is hard wired in many of us but few of us really answer its call every time, and service is something we can do every day. It's a vital part of our character. It helps to define who we are as a nation and as a people. So, today I want to challenge you to think about service as something more than an activity to supplement your daily work. Think of it as a life-time commitment to helping others, and being enriched by others. The gift of service is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. Through service to one another, we discover and live out our truest human values.
Through service, we participate in our shared commitment to create a "more perfect union." As Robert Kennedy once said, "Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice he sends forth a ripple of hope." That is the power of service—a power that I think everyone can understand. So, let each of us recommit ourselves to a life of service to our neighbors…to our community…and to our country. Together we can make our world a better place….and it begins by serving one another. That’s my take. What’s yours?