Sometimes I just have to wonder: How does someone who is really just an average guy end up at an event with four living presidents?
Only in America.
I’ll tell you how it came to be.
Some of you are familiar with the Points of Light Institute, a bipartisan organization dedicated to encouraging and promoting volunteerism in America. The inspiration for its founding comes from President George H.W. Bush who, in 1991, offered the following challenge during his first State of the Union Address:
We can find meaning and reward by serving some higher purpose than ourselves, a shining purpose, the illumination of a thousand points of light… We all have something to give… What government can do alone is limited, but the potential of the American people knows no limits.
The Points of Light Institute is not a faith-based entity, but the theme of serving others is clearly rooted in Christ’s command to love our neighbors selflessly and sacrificially. This is why I was delighted to accept their invitation to come to Washington, D.C., and participate in several special events, including a reception and concert at the Kennedy Center.
It’s always a good thing to raise awareness of the great work that’s being done by volunteers all across this country. In fact, some of these people serve right here at Focus! In the past three years alone, , nearly 400 individuals have graciously given their time and effort to various projects and assignments. And although it’s impossible to put a price tag on their generosity, from a wage perspective, we’ve calculated this three-year contribution to be worth nearly $900,000!
(If you would like to learn more about volunteering at Focus, short – or long-term, we’d love to talk with you! Please click here to learn more.)
The concert at the Kennedy Center, which lasted over two hours, was the capstone event and included a tremendous blend of American music – pop, jazz, blues, rock and country. All the living presidents, except President Obama (who joined by video), were there and spoke – Carter, Clinton, George W. Bush, and the George H.W. Bush. The first ladies Laura, Rosalynn, and Barbara were there, too, but did not speak.
Among the musicians and presenters were: Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Miranda Cosgrove, Heather Headley, Jonny Lang, Sam Moore, Kid Rock, Darius Rucker, and Carrie Underwood, and all were accompanied by the Rob Mathes Band and the inspired Washington Youth Choir and Joyce Garrett Singers.
Only in America!
But the biggest thrill of my time in DC was witnessing up close the strong marriages of both the elder Bushes and the Carters. President and Mrs. Bush just celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary, and the Carters their 65th. It might take good genes to have an opportunity to reach their respective ages, but both couples have exhibited a profound sense of commitment in their marriages. It is a wonderful thing to witness, even if we might disagree on certain political issues.
It’s my understanding that the concert is scheduled to air on NBC tonight. Check your local listings, but I think it is 8:00 pm EST.
The challenges facing America are significant, as is the diversity of opinion on how best to solve them and lead this country forward. But it’s encouraging to see a unity of spirit surrounding the significance and nobility of volunteerism. Helping others is something that is rooted in the very DNA of Christianity.