Good morning! This blog is live, so I don't want to see any spelling errors pointed out in the Comments, alright?
I'm sitting on the balcony of the ballroom at the Hilton NYC hotel in midtown, next to a dozen other bloggers. We make a pretty fierce sight: knees together, laptops balanced precariously, typing away.
Aaand it looks like the opening ceremony is starting!
After remarks by John Bridgeland, President & CEO of Civic Enterprises, there's a moving video about the support and service from people all over the country and world following the attacks on September 11th, 2001. "There can be beauty from ashes. It's hard work, but it can happen." -Ada Rosario Dolch
Melinda Doolittle from American Idol is on stage, and launches into the National Anthem before the applause from the film has finished. She nails it.
Vartan Gregorian, President, Carnegie Corporation of New York: "Today is a celebration of U.S. civil society...generosity has become the hallmark of America."
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now onstage. "Service isn't just a New York idea, it is certainly an American one [and] there are millions of fellow Americans who we can help."
Bloomberg mentioned his initiative to plant a Million Trees in the city ! Lots of applause for that one, which I'm happy to hear. It's so important to recognize the anniversary of September 11th, and I don't want to slight that in the least. But as a conservationist, it's exciting to hear members of the highest levels of government speaking enthusiastically about environmental service initiatives (and for a crowd to respond so well!).
Now a video message from President George W. Bush. "The true source of american strength is in the compassion of its people."
On the USA Freedom Corps and volunteer.gov . "Congress needs to make these good programs permanent."
And following her husband's message, First Lady Laura Bush is now onstage, and immediately starts speaking about the humanity and goodness of volunteers following the events of 9/11/01. "Over the past seven year, we've laid a strong foundation to increase [volunteer] efforts...and we can do more."
Mrs. Bush references the success of government service programs - AmeriCorps , now with 74,000 members a year, and the all-time high enrollment of the Peace Corps.
City Year member Leon McClain, from Philadelphia, is now giving maybe the best speech yet. Following a shooting "I plan on becoming a teacher, so that I can play my roile...to give hope to a generation of kids that desperately need our help."
Civilian Conservation Corps Alumni Walter Atwood is now up, and gets a big reaction when he introduces himself as a CC alumnus. "The CCC boys planted over 3 billion trees, among many other conservation projects... I didn't know people could count to three billion back then." Classic.
If I may interject here on SCA's behalf, one of the nicest perks of my months with the SCA Mass Parks Corps was to be honored along with my fellow volunteers in Boston by the CCC, and to be recognized as the inheritors of the CCC's legacy of service.
Atwood: "It's time for a new generation in America to serve." Now I feel even more proud :)
Stay tuned, there's a lot more to come!