Bush to call on college grads to create 'culture of service'
CNN Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush will urge Ohio State University graduates at their commencement Friday morning to create a "culture of service," and challenge them to ensure that the community spirit evident in the weeks after September 11 becomes permanent, senior aides said.
Bush will speak of a "new ethic of responsibility" and encourage all citizens to answer the "call to duty," while aiming his message at the next generation, including the 5,500 graduates at Ohio State, his aides said Thursday.
In his second and final commencement address this year, Bush will outline what he believes are the three principal reasons to serve: to help those in need, to build character and to be a better citizen, a senior administration official said.
All Bush Cabinet members are focusing on the theme of community service in their speeches to college graduates.
In his State of the Union address, Bush called on all Americans to devote 4,000 hours -- the equivalent of two years of their lives -- to community service. He also created a new umbrella office for volunteerism, USA Freedom Corps.
Since that announcement, Peace Corps applications have increased more than 37 percent over last year, while AmeriCorps applications are up about 87 percent and calls requesting information about Senior Corps are up more than 55 percent, aides said.
Yet other statistics don't necessarily prove that the expected post-September 11 surge in volunteerism has become a reality.
Forty-one percent of Americans said in October that they had volunteered in the past month, compared to 39 percent in March of this year, according to a survey conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.
Among 18- to 27-year-olds, 32 percent said they had volunteered back in October, compared with 30 percent in March.
White House aides said research shows respondents, when asked why they volunteer, say someone asked them to. As a result, they said, Bush continues traveling the country, asking people to volunteer.
Ohio State is the second largest campus in the country, with more than 48,000 students, the White House said. More than 55,000 people are expected to be on hand at the stadium for Bush's speech.
Bush's father spoke at Ohio State's commencement when he was vice president in 1983. President Ford, who spoke at OSU in 1974, was the last chief executive president to deliver a graduation address at the university.
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