Today, millions of Americans from all walks of life will join their neighbors in marking the national Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service to help achieve Dr. King's dream of building a more beloved community. And as we settle into a new year, there is no better time to reflect on the progress we've made as a country and the challenges we still face.
Since 9/11, millions of Americans have spent the King holiday serving through groups like Earth Conservation Corps, City Year, Martha's Table, and Habitat for Humanity. Those experiences renew the spirit -- our own and the country's -- at a time of historically low levels of social trust and lingering tensions that divide us by race, ethnicity, income and immigrant status.
AmeriCorps members have completed over one billion hours of service since 1994, and have had an immense impact on mobilizing communities to work together for a more promising future. As a former VISTA volunteer, I know firsthand the tremendous impact volunteering can have for both the volunteer and the community.
Thank God my daughter Gena didn't listen to me. She never listened to me much, but this is one where Dad was dead wrong. She fell for him immediately, and after 20 years, you would think they were still on a honeymoon. I was right about the 30 guys that I ran off before him, but completely missed on Clay.
Serving my country was an inflection point--it set my life on a new course. A former Marine, I find myself in a constant pursuit of re-attaining the meaningfulness of those four years, chasing the feeling I had when my profession involved working in challenging conditions with teams of great people to solve big problems whose scope exceeded personal gain.