The supermoon wasn’t the only unusual sight to grace Washington D.C. this past week. Monday saw an occurrence just as rare – the meeting of all four living past presidents. President Jimmy Carter, President Bill Clinton, and President George W. Bush came together as part of a tribute to President George H. W. Bush for his commitment to national service and volunteering. President Obama, who was in Latin America at the time, participated in the tribute via a video message.
The tribute was organized by the Points of Light Institute, an independent, non-partisan, nonprofit organization created in response to President Bush’s call to action in 1990 to encourage and empower the spirit of service. President Bush once famously talked of “a thousand points of light” in reference to all the community organizations working to make America better.
The service project, organized by Greater DC Cares, enlisted 100 volunteers from the Bush family, generationON Youth Advisory Council, The Mission Continues, AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps NCCC, Senior Corps, and the HandsOn Network.
Together they assembled care packages provided by the USO for children of deployed military personnel, conducted oral history interviews with veterans and seniors at the facility, and created a mobile canvas mural to be used for service-learning instruction in DC schools.
The service project was a touching start to a day of recognition for President George H.W. Bush, a veteran himself. A project that featured veterans serving veterans, was a fitting tribute and representative of the renewed commitment to America’s veterans and military community.
America’s story is one of volunteers. From its earliest days, volunteers have helped the U.S. through challenges and triumphs. Over the past 20 years, there has been a renewed energy for American volunteerism, sparked in large part by President George H.W. Bush and the Points of Light movement.
In fact, President George H.W. Bush was the first to sign the National and Community Service Act, which later led to the creation of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Recognizing the important role national service could play, he ushered in a new era of bipartisan presidential leadership in support of volunteer service.
It is this dedication to service that was on display Monday night at the Kennedy Center as former presidents, Hollywood celebrities, rock and country music stars, and Bush family members gathered to salute the former President and the American ideal of citizen service.
In his remarks, President George H.W. Bush summed up his philosophy this way: “There can be no definition of successful life that doesn’t include service in it.”
An edited version of the Kennedy Center event, All Together Now – A Celebration of Service will be broadcast on NBC, Monday March 28th at 8:00 PM.