IYLA Global Forum on International Service Calls American Young Leaders to Fulfill a National Destiny

Eric Olsen
August 28, 2013

On August 26, a Global Forum on International Service was hosted at the World Bank. Sarah Morgenthau, Director of the Peace Corps Response told the audience, “You no longer have the luxury of being a local leader in this connected world. You need to take charge.”

From its founding, America has been called to service, called to live for the sake of the whole, for the sake of the greater good.  The last line of the Declaration of Independence reads, “And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”

In each chapter of her history her citizens have risen to serve their fellow Americans and their brothers and sisters across vast oceans on foreign shores.

From the Revolutionary War, when colonist stood together against the injustice of the British King, to the abolitionists who stood for justice and freedom for American slaves during the Civil War; to the young sons of America who gave their lives to preserve the democratic way of life for their brothers in Europe during World War I, to the many men and women who sacrificed protect humanity from inhumane travesties during the Second World War and the Korean War.

Many of the efforts and calls to service were military.  But, in 1960, President John F. Kennedy called for a different form of service.  With the dark shadow of the Cold War clouding the world, President Kennedy challenged the American people to rise up and serve their neighbors, both living in America and around the world.

Executive Order 10924, established the Peace Corps as a corps of volunteers, ambassadors of goodwill and service.  President Kennedy reminds us that we should not ask what we can gain from others, but what we can do for others.  The Peace Corps paved the way for America to continue her national destiny, her legacy of service.

In 2002, months after the attacks on 9/11, President Bush would once again call upon the American Speakers at the Global Forum on International Servicepeople to change the course of history through service and goodwill.  In his State of the Union address President Bush reflected on the resilience, strength and responsibility of the American people.  He said, “We were reminded that we are citizens, with obligations to each other, to our country and to history. We began to think less of the goods we can accumulate and more about the good we can do.”

He continued, “In the sacrifice of soldiers, the fierce brotherhood of firefighters, and the bravery and generosity of ordinary citizens, we have glimpsed what a new culture of responsibility could look like. We want to be a Nation that serves goals larger than self. We have been offered a unique opportunity, and we must not let this moment pass.”

President Bush reminded the American people of their responsibility as a nation; their destiny to serve with compassion for the entire human family.

In a world of change and uncertainty, certain things remain clear.  We are all connected, and have a responsibility to one another.  Nicholas Lee, President, Global Peace Youth Corps – Malaysia told the Global Forum, “I believe service plays a crucial role in the world at this time. Make service a way of life.”

Although each contribution may seem small and possibly insignificant, each selfless deeds has an impact the lives of others. Change has always come from humble beginnings.

America is still a young nation with modest beginnings.  She must be reminded once again of her national destiny, to live for something greater than herself.

Concetta Bencivenga, Executive Director, generationOn, of Points of Light, a foundation established by President Bush Sr., in response to his son’s call to service, told the Global Forum, “A life of service starts as early as possible. You have the power to make a difference right now.”

Participants of the Global Forum of International Service were asked rise to the occasion and become compassionate leaders who serve the world.

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