National Service Summit preludes Aspen Ideas Festival
The Aspen Times
“A good life is lived in the service of others,” said Mitch Landrieu, mayor of New Orleans, who spoke at the National Service Summit alongside Barbara Bush, CEO and Co-Founder of the Global Health Corps; Wes Moore, best-selling author and U.S. Army veteran; and award-winning Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne.
To demonstrate the importance of this event, the Aspen Institute hosted the National Service Summit as the first ever prelude to the Aspen Ideas Festival, which runs today through July 2.
“What threatens and frightens us is a feeling that we are unwilling or unable to take big steps forward,” said retired army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top military commander in Afghanistan in 2009. “This time, we won’t do that; universal national service will be a long purposeful stride towards releasing the energy, talent and passion of young Americans to our nation and to each other. The bolder the plan, the more enthusiastic Americans will be to support it.”
McChrystal is the driving figure behind the event and has dedicated his post-military career toward the development of a universal national service for a minimum of one year. He delivered the introduction to the panelists by emphasizing the magnitude and necessity of national service in the 21st century.
A critical problem highlighted in the event was not American youths’ unwillingness to give back and serve the country but rather a lack of resources to provide ample opportunities for them to do so. Organizations such as AmeriCorps, Global Health Corps, Teach for America and others are being forced to reject thousands of applicants because of availability. The goal of McChrystal and the National Service Summit is to create enough positions where everyone ages 18 to 28 will have the opportunity to serve if they so desire.
“The millennial generation is saying loud and clear: ‘Send us. Let us serve,’” McChrystal said. “We have a remarkable opportunity now to move away from a safe, easy citizenship that does not ask anything from most citizens but yet demands so much from a tiny few.”
Landrieu discussed the progress of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as an example of how indispensable and beneficial national service truly is. He said New Orleans’s school districts and infrastructure have improved at an amazing rate because of national service organizations sending volunteers and aid.
As an army veteran, Moore highlighted the advantages of participating in national service. He pointed out that 70 percent of today’s jobs are acquired through connections and that national service will help provide connections to those who otherwise would be incapable of making their own.
“The beauty of higher education is your changing networks, friendships and connections. … Participating in national service will provide youth with the necessary social capital to succeed,” Moore said.
McChrystal and the National Service Summit are not aiming to make national service a universal requirement as in Israel or Germany. Their goal is to change the culture and norms of American youth by inspiring them and giving sufficient opportunities to give back through national service.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Rogue snowmobiler David Lesh was found guilty Friday of two federal petty offenses. Lesh was found guilty of riding a snowmobile illegally at a terrain park at Keystone Resort on April 24, 2020, and of undertaking an unauthorized commercial venture on national forestland.