President Bush 'Wants You'
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 1, 2002 Mentor a child. Serve your community. Be a volunteer. President George W. Bush wants all Americans to do their part to protect the American homeland.
"Stand up to evil with acts of goodness and kindness," the president said Jan. 30 at a town hall meeting in Winston- Salem, N.C. "Not only will our country be better, but we'll show the world that universal values must be respected and must be adhered to. As a result, the world will be more peaceful."
Bush echoed a call to action he'd made the night before in his State of the Union address. Like Uncle Sam's quest for military recruits, President Bush aims to recruit civilians into the USA Freedom Corps in an effort to capitalize on to the patriotism and spirit of unity generated by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"The people we fight are evil people," Bush said in North Carolina. "They have no regard for human life. They believe in tyranny. Imagine a society where women are brutalized, children aren't educated, young girls have no chance of getting an education. It is a barbaric point of view."
The U.S. military is doing its part to fight terrorism. Now, he said, it's time for the American public to do its share. You overcome evil, Bush said, "by doing something to help somebody." Millions of acts of kindness and decency, he said, make up the collective soul of the country, "a nation of heart, a nation that cares, a nation of fine, fine people."
The new USA Freedom Corps will focus on responding to crises at home, rebuilding communities and extending American compassion throughout the world, according to White House officials. They said the 2003 budget request includes more than $560 million for the program.
"America is no longer protected by our vast oceans," the president said at the Capitol Jan. 29. "We are protected only by vigorous action abroad and increased vigilance at home." Along with the government's efforts, the nation's security will "depend on the eyes and ears of alert citizens."
"My call tonight," the president told the nation, "is for every American to commit at least two years -- 4,000 hours over the rest of your lifetime -- to the service of your neighbors and your nation."
Bush said the nation needs retired doctors and nurses, ex- policeman and ex-firefighters who can be mobilized in major emergencies. Volunteers are also needed to help police and fire departments and transportation and utility workers.
White House officials said the initiative involves creating a Citizen Corps to engage citizens directly in improving homeland security. This would include creating a Medical Reserve Corps, a Volunteers in Police Service program and a Terrorist Information and Prevention system.
The president has proposed tripling over the next two years the number of Americans enrolled in Community Emergency Response Teams. His plan will also double the number of Neighborhood Watch programs.
The initiative also calls for expanding the AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs to engage 200,000 new volunteers in community service. It also calls for doubling the number of volunteers in the Peace Corps program over the next five years, with specific efforts aimed at rebuilding Afghanistan.
"These are the ways you can help," the president concluded in North Carolina. "These are the ways you can be a part of serving the nation."
Closing his recruiting pitch in North Carolina, he said, "If you want to find out how you can join the USA Freedom Corps go to usafreedomcorps.gov or you can call 1-877-USA-CORPS. This is the right thing to do for America."