Advancing National Service

NationSwell Asks: What Inspires You To Serve?

June 5, 2014
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NationSwell Asks: What Inspires You To Serve?
What would America look like if everyone did a year of national service? Getty Images
At the Gettysburg Summit in the historic city, leaders from a range of fields tell us what inspires them to make America a better place.

National leaders are currently gathering on one of the most sacred pieces of land in the United States in an effort to awaken a new citizenship in the country.

Retired General Stanley McChrystal kicked off The Gettysburg Summit in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania by framing his vision for the days ahead. Standing in front of the headquarters of General George Meade, who commanded the Union Army in the Civil War, McChrystal called Gettysburg National Military Park hallowed ground not because a battle was fought there, but “because people came here on both sides committed to something that was not for their personal profit, not for their personal glory, but for something that they felt warranted real sacrifice.”

“Our vision is bold and simple: A nation where a year of full-time national service is a cultural expectation, common opportunity, and a civic rite of passage for every young American,” he said, explaining that the Franklin Project at the Aspen Institute is working to meet our national challenges by harnessing the energy and enthusiasm of the country’s citizens.

“This is the unfinished work of our time,” he continued, referencing the conference theme “our unfinished work” and the commitment of those gathered beneath the tent where he stood to fulfill “the promise of what it means to be an American” by creating one million service year positions annually within the next 10 years.

This “call to service” was a powerful start to a summit focused on what plan of action is needed to bring about this new citizenship — from building infrastructure and supporting new service opportunities, to turning national service into a cultural expectation and maintaining this commitment over the long term.

NationSwell spoke with General McChrystal and others working to make this vision a reality about what inspires them to serve. See what they had to say, then take action by learning how you can help to leave a legacy of active citizenship through national service.

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