[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1997, Book II)]
[November 29, 1997]
[Pages 1669-1670]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's Radio Address
November 29, 1997

    Good morning. This week, millions of Americans have gathered with 
family and friends to share Thanksgiving. Much has changed for America 
since George Washington first proclaimed a day of thanksgiving for our 
new Nation in 1789. But the Thanksgiving spirit--sharing our good 
fortune with others, coming together to meet our common challenges--that 
is as important as ever. That's why we must keep that spirit alive 
throughout the year through citizen service.
    Citizen service must be at the heart of our efforts to prepare 
America for the 21st century, as we work to guarantee all Americans the 
opportunity and conditions to make the most of their own lives and to 
help those who need and deserve it with a hand up. My administration's 
most important contribution to citizen service is AmeriCorps, our 
national service program that already has given more than 100,000 young 
Americans the opportunity to serve our country and earn money for a 
college education. In community after community, AmeriCorps members have 
proved that service can help us meet our most pressing social needs.
    For example, in Simpson County, Kentucky, AmeriCorps members helped 
second graders jump three grade levels in reading. In boys and girls 
clubs all across the country, AmeriCorps members are mentors for at-risk 
young people. Habitat For Humanity relies upon AmeriCorps members to 
bring in more volunteers and build more houses. In communities beset by 
floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes, AmeriCorps members have helped to 
rebuild homes and restore hope.
    Now, AmeriCorps members are mobilizing thousands and thousands of 
college students from 800 campuses in our America Reads program, to make 
sure that all our young people can read independently by the third 
grade. AmeriCorps brings people of every background together to work 
toward common goals. And after years of partisan fighting over it, I'm 
pleased that Congress now seems ready to come together to support 
    Today I'm proposing legislation to give more Americans the chance to 
serve by strengthening AmeriCorps and our student and senior citizen 
service programs and extending them for 5 years. This legislation 
reflects the spirit of the Presidents' Summit on Service, where last 
spring thousands of Americans pledged to give our children the support 
they need to make the most of their lives. As General Colin Powell 
reported this week, we've made a lot of progress since the summit with 
more AmeriCorps members, more reading tutors for our children through 
America Reads, more mentoring programs for young people, more 
partnerships with private businesses and community groups. At 
Thanksgiving, I want to thank especially the citizens and businesses who 
have worked with us to ensure that our Nation's surplus food helps to 
feed the hungry, not fill up dumpsters.
    Now we must create more opportunities for people to serve all year 
long and, through service, to reach out to one another across the lines 
that divide us. In honor of the spirit of citizen service embodied in 
the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Congress has designated the 
Martin Luther King holiday as a day of national service. And I'm pleased 
to announce that our Corporation for National Service has awarded 73 
grants to communities from Boston to Los

[[Page 1670]]

Angeles, to help make this day of service a resounding success. Dr. King 
once said that everybody can be great because anybody can serve; you 
only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.
    As we look forward to a joyous holiday season, let us pledge to live 
up to those words by making citizen service a part of our lives every 
    Thanks for listening.

Note: The address was recorded at 6:25 p.m. on November 28 in the 
Residence at Camp David, MD, for broadcast at 10:06 a.m. on November 29. 
In his remarks, the President referred to Gen. Colin Powell, USA (Ret.), 
chairman, America's Promise--The Alliance For Youth.