Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Everyone can be great, because anybody can serve.”
A man who dedicated his life to service and made an extraordinary impact on the world, Dr. King acted on a simple premise: By doing our part, by spending even a fraction of our lives giving back, we strengthen our communities and change the lives of those around us. All it takes is a small commitment to giving back.
That’s why thousands of volunteers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. are coming together for a National Day of Service this Saturday. It’s a tradition President Obama and his family started during his first inauguration, in honor of Dr. King’s legacy of service. This week, as the second inauguration kicks off, the President is asking Americans to join him and his family in taking the day to give back to their communities—and pledging to serve in the days to come.
It’s not just an abstract commitment—you can sign up for a service project that has been put together by one of your neighbors, right where you live, and spend a few hours working on something with a tangible impact on your community. It could be helping stock the shelves at a local food pantry, building a house for a homeless family, spending time with veterans, or painting a school.
But it doesn’t end with one day. After you’ve participated in the National Day of Service wherever you are, take the next step by pledging to serve in your community on an ongoing basis. You can work with the same organization or find another project that matters to you. This is what starts to make a real difference: being a part of active, sustainable, long-term service.
The National Day of Service is a chance for Americans to be a part of something bigger—not just a presidential inauguration, not just a day of helping those in need, but the start of creating a culture of service. By learning about opportunities to give back in your community, serving on the Day of Service, and pledging to commit your time to service throughout the year, you can change your community for the better. You can honor Dr. King’s legacy by carrying out a tradition of giving back.
And you can be great.