Bush lauds volunteerism
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Reiterating a theme he touched on during the State of the Union address, President Bush Saturday promoted public service in the United States and throughout the world and urged Congress to back legislation that would bolster such efforts.
"Americans have always believed in an ethic of service," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "Americans serve others because their conscience demands it, because their faith teaches it, because they are grateful to their country and because service brings rewards much deeper than material success."
Bush said that after his State of the Union remarks, thousands have sought applications in an array of federal programs. He exhorted Americans to get involved in programs such as the USA Freedom Corps, the Citizens Corps and the Peace Corps.
Bush said the country needs "citizens working to strengthen" communities, such as doctors, nurses, teachers, police and emergency workers.
"Through the USA Freedom Corps and the Citizen Service Act introduced in Congress just over a week ago, we will expand and improve the good efforts of AmeriCorps and Senior Corps to meet the needs of America's communities. I urge Congress to act quickly on this good piece of legislation."
Bush urged Americans to extend their country's compassion "to every part of the world."
"We are renewing the promise of the Peace Corps, doubling its volunteers over the next five years and asking it to expand its efforts to foster education and development in the Islamic world."
He said that since the State of the Union address, "more than 45,000 Americans have asked for Peace Corps applications. More than 34,000 citizens have signed up for the new Citizen Corps initiative. Applications for AmeriCorps and Senior Corps are also up."
He told the story of a 13-year-old girl hospitalized with cancer. She and her mother made and sold patriotic key chains for the children of Afghanistan. He sent a check to Bush for $270.88 "to save more kids."
"Tragically, Ashley died on the very day her letter reached the White House.
"This is the character of our country. This is the soul of our people. This is the nation we love and can honor through acts of service."
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