Monday, June 25, 2007

Considering A New Era of National Service

Since I was a young child I've occasionally dreamed of a career in the military, and among my friends I'm one of a few who isn't completely shut off from the idea of pursuing such a path later in life. However, the pros of fighting in today's military are fewer than ever before: the state of veteran's health care is under extreme criticism, the potential for a positive outcome in the current Iraq conflict is uncertain, and many of the traditional positions in the military, especially the Reserve and Guard, are no longer 'one weekend/month' commitments.

Senator Dodd has mentioned recently that he believes Americans possess a unique capacity and willingness to serve their country in whatever way they can. Although I speak for just myself, I'll answer in agreement to Mr. Dodd there; I'm fortunate enough to attend a high school where community service participation is a part of the graduation requirement, and while I've seen a share of people complain their way through forty hours, there's another share of people that like the thing they're experiencing and take it up outside of any requirement later on.

As the conclusion of my high school years looms less than a year away, I've considered taking a year off before college to work on a campaign, learn a language, take special interest classes, and get some sleep. After hearing Chris Dodd this past weekend and considering his national service proposal I've realized that he's talking about people like me. His speech inspired me to look for an opportunity to join an organization like the AmeriCorps or Peace Corps. This morning I emailed the local chapter of AmeriCorps and requested information about the programs they offer for rising college students; it's an option for a year of my life that I'm now seriously interested in. Dodd seeks to inspire a call to service that would echo the 1960's. Although my generation is slow to respond, I am still hopeful that my contemporaries will rise to the occasion.

JFK characterized the American spirit better than anyone else:
"The American, by nature, is optimistic. He is experimental, an inventor and a builder who builds best when called upon to build greatly."

Whether or not Chris Dodd is the John F. Kennedy of our generation, he's beginning to tap into the pulse of America that has been ignored for years, and that's something for which I applaud him.

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