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Clinton urges Americans to honor King Day through citizen service

January 16, 1999
Web posted at: 2:57 p.m. EST (1957 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, January 16) -- President Bill Clinton Saturday called on Americans to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Monday "by rising to the call of citizen service."

"To honor what would have been Dr. King's 70th birthday, I urge all Americans to rise to the highest calling in our land, the calling of active citizenship, for if we work together as true neighbors, we can realize Dr. King's most enduring dream," Clinton said in his weekly radio address.

Five years ago, Clinton signed legislation that encourages Americans to devote the King holiday to performing community service.

"We believe that this national holiday should be a day on, not a day off, or as Dr. King once said, 'Life's most persistent and urgent question is -- what are you going to do for others?'" said Clinton.

He urged Americans to join the 100,000 people already committed to perform public service on Monday, noting the accomplishments of the administration's Americorps national public service program and publicizing the program's Web site,www.americorps.org.

"Since Dr. King's last birthday, they've rehabilitated thousands of homes, immunized tens of thousands of children, tutored hundreds of thousands of students, performed millions of hours of service," the president said. "Just as important, our diverse Americorps members are learning lessons that will last a lifetime."

"In the words of one member, it's unity, people working together. You don't see color, you see people who've come together with just one purpose," he said.

Clinton Saturday released the long-awaited report that grew out of the administration's initiative on race: "Pathways To One America In The 21st Century," a guide for community service "to encourage racial reconciliation."

Another way to honor King, said the president, is to "give the gift of life by donating blood."

"America's blood supplies are now critically low because severe winter weather has hindered blood drives in several regions. I urge every American to find out where you can donate blood by calling 1-800-GIVELIFE," he said.


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Americorps Web site



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Saturday January 16, 1999

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