for 100,000 New Senior Corps Volunteers
Volusia County Fire Services Training Center
Daytona Beach, Florida
January 31, 2002
10:00 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Please be seated. Well, it's good to
be here with my little brother. (Laughter.) Last night when we arrived, I had
the honor of saying hello to it looked like a couple thousand citizens there.
And I said I always like to go to states that have got a really good governor.
(Laughter.) And I did. (Applause.)
I want all the moms here to know that any success I've had, any success Jeb
has had, is the result of having a strong mother. (Applause.) So my advice to
the young in Florida is, always listen to your mother. (Laughter.)
Jeb and I know one thing, and that is that America can change, one heart, one
soul at a time. We understand that a compassionate tomorrow and a safe tomorrow
requires Presidents and governors and mayors and county officials to rally the
true strength of the country, which is our people.
You know, the enemy hit us the other day, a while ago. They didn't understand
America. They thought we were weak and materialistic and soft. Instead, they
have found a patient, determined, compassionate nation that stands in the way
of their efforts to spread evil. (Applause.)
In my State of the Union address the other night, I chose to spend time talking
about the spirit of unity in our country. To me, it is one of the most -- as
I said, I stand in awe of the American people, individually and collectively.
I know -- I know how strong we are as a nation. And now our job is to take that
spirit and extend it for years to come.
I like to describe it this way: Our culture has said, "if it feels good,
do it." Our dream, or my dream for the country is that we usher in a culture
that says, each of us our responsible for the decisions we make in life. We're
responsible for loving our children -- (applause) -- we are responsible for
serving goals greater than ourself. And that means becoming involved in the
communities in which we live.
And so we're here today in Volusia County to herald a Senior Corps program that
embodies the spirit that I was defining in my speech -- a program that recognizes
the power of recruiting volunteers to work side by side with police and fire
and emergency rescuers, to make sure that this county is more secure in its
I want to thank Terry White, who is the Florida Secretary of Elder Affairs.
I mention the Florida office because we understand at the federal government,
since I had been a governor, that sometimes the federal government can help,
and sometimes it can get in the way. I want to be -- I want to have an administration
that helps, and doesn't thwart the efforts of local people. So I look forward
to working with your Governor, and I look forward to working with the Cabinet
he's put together, to pass power out of Washington to local governments. The
government that's closest to the people is that which works the best, as far
as we're concerned.
And somebody who understands that is Congressman John Mica, and I want to thank
John for being here, as well. (Applause.) I want to say a word about John. One
of the -- obviously, right after the attack we realized the federal government
had a responsibility to make sure our air travel was more secure. And as a result
of his leadership and the leadership of others -- but John had a major role
to play -- I was able to sign a good airline security bill that made traffic
as secure as it possibly could be.
And, thanks to the result of our efforts, brother was informing me today that
people are beginning to travel more, coming back to this great destination state
called Florida. I'm glad they're traveling more. I hope they travel more to
Florida. It's good for our economy and it's good for our nation when people
do that. But, John, thank you for your leadership on this important issue. (Applause.)
I also am so glad the Chairman for the Corporation for National and Community
Service is with us, the former Mayor of Indianapolis, Indiana, a man who understands
what compassionate conservatism is all about -- a guy who did a fabulous job
of revitalizing Indianapolis through a faith-based initiative that was strong
and powerful and locally derived, and now a man who is in charge of making sure
that the initiatives I'm outlining get instituted, and that's Stephen Goldsmith.
Thanks for coming, Steve. (Applause.)
And with him is the CEO, Les Lenkowski. In my speech, I talked about making
sure AmeriCorps and Senior Corps expand. Les's job is to follow through. I'm
one of these accountability guys. I understand sometimes in the political process
all you hear are words. I like to back them up with action. I like it to be
known that --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You bet!
THE PRESIDENT: You bet. (Laughter.) I like to know that it's one thing to lay
it out, it's another thing to follow up. I'm a follow-up guy. Les understands
that. And so, when we say we're going to have an active effort to recruit, I
will be asking Les and John Bridgeland, who is now working for me, head of the
USA Freedom Corps -- what are the results? Have we been able to deliver what
we said? And I'm confident we will, particularly since the spirit in this country
is so strong.
I'm confident -- when I stood up in front of the nation and said, I ask you
to dedicate two years of your life, 4,000 hours for the rest of your life, to
service for your country, a nd I believe America will respond. I truly believe
it. One thing we've got to do is make sure that people understand how to respond.
Now, don't get me wrong. I understand there are thousands of Americans who are
now volunteering in America. And for that, I am incredibly grateful. I know
there are hundreds and thousands of man-hours being given to make sure communities
are better off, and we applaud those efforts. What I'm saying is, to those who
are already volunteering, keep going, we need your help. And some aren't sure
where to go. You see, some aren't sure how to help. And so we set up the USA
And I want people to understand that if they want to help, they need to call
1-877-USA-CORPS. If you want to be a part, just call that number and we will
help direct your heart to a program that needs your help. Or if you happen to
be an Internet surfer, we've got a web page, usafreedomcorps.gov -- usafreedomcorps,
spelled c-o-r-p-s, .gov. It will give you a chance to find out what we're talking
about. It will give you a go-by as to how you can help.
And there are some fantastic programs right here in Volusia County that others
ought to recognize, that work. One is Citizens on Patrol. We basically -- we,
the county, and the state, have said there are numerous seniors who have got
a lot to offer -- people who might be retired, but their brains haven't retired,
and their experience hasn't been retired. So let's figure out how to get them
involved in the community.
So they've got a program called Citizens on Patrol. More than 200 volunteers
put in 51,000 hours in the year 2001, to help serve as eyes and ears of local
law enforcement. If a child is missing, they help look. If something is odd,
they help notice. I don't know if you remember, but I talked about, digging
into those al Qaeda caves in Afghanistan, we found some of their aspirations,
in terms of creating harm for America. For example, they targeted some of our
cities, or some of our infrastructure. Citizens on Patrol here in Volusia County
patrol the water treatment plants and water treatment facilities in this county.
I was up in Maine the other day, and I was informed that as a result of a collaborative
effort with the Coast Guard and the FBI, lobstermen now patrol the coast of
Maine, looking for something unusual. Part of having a homeland defense is to
have people on alert. And I appreciate this program. So if people in this part
of the world want to help be a part of the first defense on homeland security
-- and that is, help patrol neighborhoods, or patrol areas, or industrial complexes,
to make sure nothing unusual is happening -- a great program is Citizens on
Patrol, right here in Volusia County. (Applause.)
Part of the homeland security initiative that I outlined is to make sure that
there is a proper strategy in place for responding to an emergency. That's why
we're focusing resources on bioterrorism, airport security, a better border
-- better border programs. We've got to understand who's coming in and who's
coming out of the country in a better way, it seems like to me.
But one of the things we also need to do is to have emergency response strategy.
If something were to go wrong, there needs to be a collaborative strategy between
city and county and all jurisdictions within that will be able to respond properly.
One of the interesting programs here through Senior Corps and the senior programs
in Volusia County is the Community Emergency Response Volunteers, CERV. They
have got lists of seniors who they call if there's an impending emergency. They
help put kits together to make sure that if there's an emergency, people are
well-treated. They have been assigned schools to go to if there's an emergency
All this, by the way, is transferable to our war against terror, is to make
sure the homeland of the United States is more secure. And so I want to thank
the seniors in this county. And the innovative entrepreneurial spirit of convincing
people of how to volunteer in a constructive way is so good here.
And America -- Americans are asking how you can help, here's another way you
can help, to serve your nation by being a part of an emergency response team.
There are retired doctors, retired nurses that can help hospitals, there are
retired policemen and firemen that can help fire -- there are people that want
to help, here's a good way to help. (Applause.)
And finally, one of the things that -- the incredible parts of 9/11 is that
the nation understands how important compassion is. I mean, the way I view this
is that we're fighting evil, and I don't see any shades of gray. And the best
way to fight evil is with acts of kindness. The best way to fight evil is for
people to love their neighbor.
People say, well, I want to be a part of the war on terror. Okay, go love a
child. Find somebody who needs help. One thing we ought to do in the nation
is to find those children whose parents may be in prison, and team them up with
a mentor, so that that child understand there is at least somebody in our society
that says "I love you." (Applause.)
And there is an important role for seniors, people who understand the importance
of love. And so, there's a foster grandparent program here, as a part of Senior
Corps. It's a program that says, if you care for children -- and most foster
grandparents obviously have had a little experience with raising children --
please, we want your help. We want you to serve as a mentor. We want you to
provide a part of a hopeful future for a child.
I'm fully aware of the importance of Senior Corps for the future of the country.
That's why I'm here -- to herald successful programs within the Senior Corps
Our goal is to recruit 100,000 new Senior Corps volunteers -- 100,000. We've
got a web site, we've got a phone number you can call. Please pass the word.
It is an initiative that will help really solidify the spirit of compassion,
a responsibility era that's beginning to emerge in our country.
I leave here to go to Atlanta, Georgia, to talk about the need for us to recruit
teachers in classrooms. Part of fighting terror is to make sure our children
are educated. And we need more teachers, and particularly hard in neighborhoods
where some teachers may not want to teach. And so I'm going to herald a great
program later on today that's as successful as the Senior Corps program here
in Volusia County.
Obviously, you can tell that I've got great optimism for the country, a great
hope for our future.
My most important job as the President is to protect America. (Applause.) Is
to make sure that we've got a homeland defense that's well-coordinated and active.
And even though the enemy thinks they're going to hit us again, you need to
know your federal government is doing everything we can to stop them.
We are on full alert. Our FBI, for example, has got a new mission, and that
is to prevent attack. Oh, they've got their other jobs to do, but their primary
focus is, what can I do, what can I do as an FBI agent to gather as much intelligence
as possible to prevent a possible attack from happening.
Another way, we've got to make sure we share information with local authorities.
When we get a piece of information, I can assure you we'll be on the phone notifying
people about the appropriate response. But we're looking and we're listening
and we're active. And the enemy knows that they have awakened a mighty giant.
But the best way to make sure we secure our homeland, the best way we make sure
that children can grow up in a peaceful world, a world that understands the
power and promise of freedom, is to find the enemy where they hide and bring
them to justice. And that's exactly what this nation is going to do. (Applause.)
Oh, I know some of the people around the world are saying, well, you know, he
can't possibly mean that, now that they've looked like they're successful in
Afghanistan. Gosh, don't you think it's about time they just kind of go on home.
No. It's now time to stand for freedom and to make it clear to terrorists and/or
nations that are willing to develop weapons of mass destruction that could be
used against us that we will not tire and we will not falter.
This great nation has been given a chance in history to make the world more
free. And I promise you we'll seize that opportunity. (Applause.) We'll be wise
and deliberate about how we pursue our grand objective. But we'll pursue it.
Time isn't on our side. As these nations develop these sophisticated weapons,
they need to know -- not how, but our intention is to hold them accountable.
And the rest of the world needs to be with us, because these weapons can be
pointed at them just as easily at us. And we cannot let terror and evil blackmail
the United States or any other freedom-loving country in the world. (Applause.)
I'm proud of our country. I'm proud of the spirit of America. I am proud to
be the President of the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. (Applause.)
I said in my speech that one way we'll overcome evil is through the gathering
momentum of millions of acts of kindness and decency and compassion. And I'm
proud to be in a room of part of that momentum.
May God bless you all, and may God bless America. (Applause.)