Remarks in a Swearing-In Ceremony for AmeriCorps Volunteers
The President. Good afternoon. In just a moment, I'll speak to thousands of you young people and those of you who are young in spirit around the country about our national service program, AmeriCorps. But before I do, let me say just a few words about what occurred here this morning.
As you know, a plane came down here early this morning, and the pilot lost his life. An investigation is taking place that will determine how and why this happened. We take this incident seriously because the White House is the people's house. And it is the job of every President who lives here to keep it safe and secure.
On his second night in the White House, our second President, John Adams, wrote: "I pray heaven to bestow the best blessings on this house and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it." That prayer has been answered. In times of war and peace, in hard times and good, the White House is an enduring symbol of our democracy. It tells our people and those around the world that the mission of America continues, as it does on this happy and important day. So let me assure all Americans, the people's house will be kept safe, it will be kept open, and the people's business will go on.
We stand at the start of America's new season of service. For 20,000 Americans this year all over our great land, this moment marks the beginning of a journey that will change their lives forever. For our Nation, the moments of service that will follow will change our lives for many seasons to come.
Service is never a simple act, it's about sacrifice for others and about accomplishment for ourselves, about reaching out, one person to another, about all our choices gathered together as a country to reach across all our divides. It's about you and me and all of us together, who we are as individuals and what we are as a nation.
Service is a spark to rekindle the spirit of democracy in an age of uncertainty. We hear a great deal about values now. I encourage America in that conversation. But all the lofty talk comes down to three simple questions: What is right? What is wrong? And what are we going to do about it?
Today we're doing what is right. Just look around you. You're what is right with America. Twenty thousand of you this year and 100,000 over the next 3 years will be getting things done in hundreds of places around the country. You will be saving babies in south Texas, walking the police beat in Brooklyn. You will work on boats to reclaim the Chesapeake Bay and work on new housing to rebuild parts of Roxbury. You will take seniors safely to the doctor in St. Louis and teach children in Sacramento to read.
Every generation in our history has learned to take responsibility for our future, and your generation is no exception. We look at you now, and we know you are no generation of slackers. Instead, you are a generation of doers. And you want to give something back to the country that has given so much to you. The only limit to our future is what we're willing to demand of ourselves today. Generations of Americans before us have done the groundwork. Now it falls to all of us to build on their foundations.
In just a minute, I'll lead nearly 20,000 AmeriCorps members gathered across America in a pledge. I ask all Americans to reflect on the words they will say, because with words like "action" and "commitment," "community" and "common ground," this is much more than a pledge of service. It's a creed for America as we move forward to renew our great country. And to all of you who will help to lead us in that journey, I say God bless you, and thank you from the bottom of my heart.
And now it's my great pleasure to swear in the first members of AmeriCorps around the Nation, including these fine young people who are here with me. Would you all raise your right hand and repeat after me:
I will get things done for America to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier. I will bring Americans together to strengthen our communities. Faced with apathy, I will take action. Faced with conflict, I will seek common ground. Faced with adversity, I will persevere. I will carry this commitment with me this year and beyond. I am an AmeriCorps member, and I am going to get things done.
[The AmeriCorps volunteers repeated the pledge line by line after the President.]
The President. Thank you, and good luck.
NOTE: The President spoke at 2:46 p.m. by satellite from the Oval Office at the White House.
William J. Clinton, Remarks in a Swearing-In Ceremony for AmeriCorps Volunteers Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/218655