In the Fargodome, thousands of people gathered not to watch a football game or a rodeo, but to fill sandbags. Volunteers filled 2.5 million of them in just five days, working against the clock, day and night, with tired arms and aching backs. Others braved freezing temperatures, gusting winds, and falling snow to build levees along the river’s banks to help protect against waters that have exceeded record levels.
College students have traveled by the busload from nearby campuses to lend a hand during their spring breaks. Students from local high schools asked if they could take time to participate. Young people have turned social networks into community networks, coordinating with one another online to figure out how best to help.
In the face of an incredible challenge, the people of these communities have rallied in support of one another. And their service isn’t just inspirational – it’s integral to our response.
It’s also a reminder of what we can achieve when Americans come together to serve their communities. All across the nation, there are men, women and young people who have answered that call, and millions of other who would like to. Whether it’s helping to reduce the energy we use, cleaning up a neighborhood park, tutoring in a local school, or volunteering in countless other ways, individual citizens can make a big difference.
That is why I’m so happy that legislation passed the Senate this week and the House last week to provide more opportunities for Americans to serve their communities and the country.
The bipartisan Senate bill was sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator Ted Kennedy, a leader who embodies the spirit of public service, and I am looking forward to signing this important measure into law.
In facing sudden crises or more stubborn challenges, the truth is we are all in this together – as neighbors and fellow citizens. That is what brought so many to help in North Dakota and Minnesota and other areas affected by this flooding. That is what draws people to volunteer in so many ways, serving our country here and on distant shores.
Our thanks go to them today, and to all who are working day and night to deal with the disaster. We send them our thoughts, our prayers, and our continued assistance in this difficult time.
(Source: White House)