On Tuesday afternoon, President Barack Obama signed a $5.7 billion national service bill that will triple the size of the AmeriCorps program over the next eight years.
Amid lauding the efforts of AmeriCorps founder Bill Clinton and service champion Senator Ted Kennedy, President Obama shared some inspiring thoughts on his own experience with service as well as recounting a little story that Sen. Kennedy likes to tell about a young man, an old man, and some starfish.
On the act of serving:
"People who love their country can change it."
"[That's] the beauty of service: anybody can do it. You don't need to be a community organizer, a senator, a Kennedy or even a president to bring changes to people's lives."
On his own experience:
"I wouldn't be standing here today if not for the service of others or for the purpose that service gave my own life. "
"I wasn't just helping people, I was receiving something in return. Through service I found a community that embraced me, citizenship that was meaningful, the direction that I had been seeking."
And finally, the story that says it all:
An old man walking along the beach at dawn sees a young man picking up the star fish and throwing them out to sea. "Why are you doing that?" The old man inquired. The young man explained that the starfish had been stranded on the beech by a receding tide. And would soon die in the daytime sun. "But the beach goes on for miles," the old man said. "And there's so many! How can your effort make any difference?" The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and without hesitating threw it to safety in the sea. He looked up at the old man, smiled and said, "It will make a difference to that one."
Watch the whole speech, including Sen. Kennedy's opening remarks, below:
What inspires you to serve? Do you have any similar stories? If so, we'd love to hear them! Share them in the comments below!