The Washington Times - September 11, 2010, 02:22PM

What is it about President Barack Obama’s call for community service on the anniversary of 9/11? 

“By giving back to our communities, by serving people in need, we reaffirm our ideals — in defiance of those who would do us grave harm,” he said, according to a transcript. “We prove that the sense of responsibility that we felt for one another was not a fleeting passion — but a lasting virtue,” said the president on Saturday during 9/11 ceremonies at the Pentagon.

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Didn’t the president already declare a day of national service on January 19, 2009, the day before he was inaugurated into office? The New York Times reported in December of 2008:

Barack Obama is calling for a national day of service to take place on Jan. 19, the federal holiday for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and the day preceding Mr. Obama’s inauguration as president.

Mr. Obama and Joseph R. Biden Jr. are planning to roll up their sleeves themselves that day and perform some as-yet-unspecified service work in Washington, D.C.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee is putting the wheels for the project in motion with calls and e-mails to national service organizations. The committee is reaching out to organizations of all sizes and ideologies, including faith-based groups, unions and businesses as well as political groups — from Moveon.org on the left to Focus on the Family on the right — to motivate their members to participate.

“While government has an important role to play in helping rekindle our economy and addressing the problems of a distressed nation, President-elect Obama believes each of us, as Americans, have a responsibility to do what we can for our communities and fellow citizens,” said the e-mail, which was signed by the five co-chairmen of the committee.

The e-mail also suggested that the day of service would be the beginning of a larger effort.

“Unlike past calls to service, President-elect Obama will ask Americans to do more than just offer a single day of service to their cities, towns and neighborhoods,” the e-mail said. “He will ask all of us to make an ongoing commitment to our communities. Never has it been more important to come together in shared purpose to tackle the common challenges we face.”

Today, though, the president along with Serve.gov made sure that the administration’s social policy agenda was touted yet again as opposed to leaving this day as simply a remembrance of those who were killed as a result of the 9/11 attacks and military who have given their lives to keep us safe since. Furthermore, the president should focus more on what he is specifically doing to keep us safe from possible future terrorist attacks instead of hope and change policy rhetoric. 

There is nothing wrong about giving back to the community, and the private sector handles volunteer services quite well, but the Obama administration thinks it can do it better through government It is curious, though, that a president who will use any opportunity to talk about the government’s service program also has an administration who wants the private sector to pay interns and limit the benefits from tax deductions on higher income charity donors.

How about just sticking to the topic at hand next time around, Mr. President.

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