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Prominent Americans Urge Presidential Candidates to Expand National Service to Renew Civic Spirit
In an open letter to President Trump and Vice President Biden, bipartisan group advocates for national service to be prioritized as solution to countries’ challenges
WASHINGTON, DC (October 29, 2020) – In the final days of the presidential election, a diverse group of more than 120 Americans from across the country today called on President Trump’s and Vice President Biden’s campaigns to prioritize the expansion of national service in the next presidential term as a way to address the polarization of the nation. In a letter released as a part of the Serve America Together campaign, former governors and members of Congress as well as leading philanthropy, thought and faith leaders, impressed upon the importance of national service as a tool to unite Americans and to help renew the nation’s civic spirit.
“The expansion of national service is an important part of bridging our political divides and uniting Americans in a common purpose,” said Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global. “Democrats and Republicans alike are calling on both candidates for President to prioritize this issue for the good of America and all Americans.”
"If voluntary national service were to be an expectation and opportunity for every young American, we would be investing in a future in which we can scale up trust and cooperation beyond just communities, and reclaim a sense of patriotism built out of a common experience among citizens," said Mickey Edwards, a former Republican member of Congress from Oklahoma and visiting professor at Princeton University.
A recent poll indicates that 85% of registered voters believe that Americans are greatly divided on their values. The Serve America Together campaign urges the presidential campaigns to leverage national service as a way to encourage and increase the nation’s civic renewal by providing more opportunities for young people from all backgrounds to work together toward a common goal.
The letter, signed by more than 120 people, representing a wide range of political ideologies, reads in part, “just as those who serve in the military build bonds with fellow service members that are stronger than their political, racial, or economic differences, service alongside someone in a classroom, food bank, or national park, builds a similar bond that transcends background and preconceptions. Serving together in common purpose builds empathy and understanding towards fellow citizens and teaches collaboration as a powerful tool to solve problems and leverage differences.”
"Our country is facing a crisis of confidence in our institutions and trust of each other,” said Deval Patrick, co-chair of the Serve America Together campaign, former governor of Massachusetts and founder of the TogetherFUND PAC. “I am proud to support Serve America Together's push to expand national service opportunities as a way to meet many of America’s unmet needs and help Americans come to know each other better. By expanding national service we can create more opportunities to unify our country."
The letter draws on Serve America Together’s campaign platform and urges the presidential campaigns to expand national service in order to empower young Americans, respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and help knit our country back together.
About Serve America Together
Serve America Together is a campaign to make national service part of growing up in America. The campaign is led by a coalition of over a dozen military and civilian service organizations as well as a group of bipartisan co-chairs including Gen. (Ret.) Stan McChrystal, Howard Schultz, Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Former Congressman Joe Heck, Former Gov. Deval Patrick, Arianna Huffington, Laura Lauder, Andrew Hauptman, and Jeff Huber. It is a project of Service Year Alliance, an organization working to make a year of paid, full-time service — a service year — a common expectation and opportunity for all young Americans. Learn more about Service Year Alliance at serviceyearalliance.org.