American presidents have long vied to echo John Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you.”
The spirit of service, declared Ronald Reagan, “flows like a deep and mighty river through the history of our nation.” Bill Clinton created AmeriCorps. George H.W. Bush likened volunteer organizations to “a thousand points of light.” George W. Bush created the USA Freedom Corps. Barack Obama called on Americans to “ground our politics in the notion of a common good.”
Their arguments are all the more compelling today, in a bitterly divided America struggling with a pandemic...
...Mr. Biden has an opportunity to make some version of this a reality. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a former commander of international forces in Afghanistan and head of the “Serve America. Together” campaign, recently called on the president to invest in universal national service for one million young Americans annually as “the most important strategy we can implement to ensure the strength and security of our nation.”
Read the full New York Times editorial board endorsement of national service.