Office of the Press Secretary
"I want to make a brief announcement before I make the comments I have to make to you about education. Most of the people my age who were drawn into public service, as I hope each of you in your own way will become a public servant, even as a private citizen, were attracted by the example set by President Kennedy and the people who came into his administration. Many people now know that when I was about your age I met President Kennedy here in the Rose Garden 32 years ago next month. It inspired me and my entire generation to believe that we should ask not what our country could do for us, but what we could do for our country; how we could serve.
And when I became President I asked the American people to join me in a season of service. I asked the Congress to establish a national service corps, AmeriCorps, that would give our young people -- and sometimes people who aren't so young -- the opportunity to earn money for education, but to do it by serving people here in our community at the grass-roots level, all across this country. That idea was inspired by the Peace Corps. And the Peace Corps continues the tradition of service that John Kennedy established to this day.
President Kennedy started the Peace Corps to help expand the circle of freedom and democracy when it was threatened by communism and by the Cold War. But it has continued throughout all these years, in countries all across the globe, to help people solve real problems, to go beyond language and racial and ethnic and religious and the political differences, to unite us at the most fundamental human level in fulfilling our potential. The Peace Corps is very, very important.
Just a few weeks ago, my Director of the Peace Corps, Carol Bellamy, had the great honor to be named the head of UNICEF on behalf of the United Nations. And now I have to replace her. And today I want to announce that the distinguished gentleman behind me who has been my faithful friend and aide for many years, and now the White House Communications Director, Mark Gearan, will be the new Director of the Peace Corps.
I think it would be fair to say that if we had a secret ballot for who the most popular person working in the White House is, Mark Gearan would probably win it in a walk. He has the understanding and the ability to build bridges and the tenacity to cross them. I am proud to nominate him to lead our Peace Corps into the 21st century, to keep the vision and the spirit of John Kennedy alive and the dream of America alive all over the world.