Radio Address to the Nation on the Observance of Thanksgiving Day
My fellow Americans:
This coming Thursday we'll celebrate a holiday that belongs uniquely to our nation -- Thanksgiving Day. Millions of us will travel from all parts of the country to gather in family homes, observing the holiday according to longstanding tradition: turkey with all the fixings, pumpkin pie, laughter, the warmth of family, love, and, yes, a moment of prayer to give thanks. Yet, at the same time, many among us will be less fortunate. And just as Thanksgiving Day has always been an occasion for counting our blessings, so, too, it's always been a time for making life better among our fellow Americans. In churches and synagogues across the country, for example, food will be collected in the next few days for distribution to the needy, or on Thanksgiving Day itself. And with this spirit of Thanksgiving in mind, I thought I'd speak with you for a moment this afternoon about the goodness of the American people and our willingness to give each other a helping hand.
The spirit of voluntarism is deeply ingrained in us as a nation. Maybe it has something to do with our history as a frontier land. Those early Americans who gave us Thanksgiving Day itself had to help each other in order to survive -- joining together to plant crops, build houses, and raise barns. And perhaps they discovered that in helping others their own lives were enriched. In our own day, a poll showed most Americans believe that no matter how big government gets and no matter how many services it provides, it can never take the place of volunteers. In other words, we Americans understand that there are no substitutes for gifts of service given from the heart.
our recent history, there was a time not long ago when this spirit seemed
endangered, when philanthropy and personal involvement were giving way to
bureaucratic plans and Federal programs. So, when our administration took
office, we made it one of our main aims to encourage private sector
initiatives, to reinvigorate the American tradition of voluntarism. And I have
to admit, our success in this area is one of the accomplishments of which I'm
most proud. For in the past few years, we've witnessed an unprecedented
outpouring of the volunteer spirit, a tremendous reassertion of good will and
neighborliness. Last year alone, individuals, corporations, bequests, and
foundations gave nearly $80 billion to good causes -- a record high. You can
see these volunteer efforts all around. Consider the
1958, for example, Dr. William Walsh asked President Dwight Eisenhower for the
use of an old hospital ship, mothballed after World War II. Ike provided that
ship, charging rent of just $1 a year. And Dr. Walsh turned the old ship into
Project HOPE, a seaborne hospital and medical school that traveled the world.
Today Project HOPE has been modernized, and medical
volunteers traveled by plane recently to
there's Just Say No, a largely volunteer organization that's teaching children
around the world to say no to drugs. This organization got started when
efforts may be less well known than major undertakings like Just Say No and
Project HOPE, but to the very heart and soul of the American volunteer spirit,
many of you'll be able to think of good works being performed in your own
communities. I think of a house for the homeless here in
Until next week, thanks for listening. God bless you.
The President spoke at from