(WASHINGTON) — President Obama and former President Bill Clinton joined forces at the White House Friday to celebrate the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps and highlight the important role of service.
“Thank all of you for living a life of active and energetic and engaged citizenship, because it has made America stronger. You have made America stronger because of what you’ve done,” the president said at a White House ceremony where hundreds of eager young volunteers were sworn in for a year of service.
Clinton, who spoke first, called the program “one of the most important things I ever had a role in in public service.”
Since Clinton swore in the first AmeriCorps class 20 years ago on Friday, 900,000 people have volunteered more than 1.2 billion hours on working on projects across the country.
Making something of a political plug for his wife, the former president noted that a dedication to service is something he shares with the potential 2016 presidential candidate.
“[Hillary] campaigned across America with me in 1992 promising that we would create a national service program. She had participated in all kinds of community service. Her first job was with the Children’s Defense Fund. She started a legal aid program in Arkansas at our university. We have lived this for a long time,” he said.
Obama, who started his career as a community organizer, said AmeriCorps’ mission is also personal.
“I would not be standing here if it were not for service to others and the purpose that service gave my own life,” he said. “The idea of making a difference in other people’s lives made a difference in mine. It made me whole. Gave me center. Gave me a compass.”
Similar swearing-in ceremonies are taking place across the country Friday, with the help of two other former presidents. Former President George H.W. Bush is swearing in new volunteers in Maine and former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush recorded a video message for the events, which are kicking off a year of service for 75,000 volunteers.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
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