I met Senator Harris Wofford, the godfather of national service, a couple of years ago. I was hurrying into a breakout session of a conference and plopped down into an empty chair towards the front. I turned to nod hello to the older gentleman sitting to my left and to introduce myself, and I realized that the older gentleman was Harris Wofford. For all of us who spend our time thinking about America’s role in the world and figuring out what it is that we can do to serve our country and our ideals of social justice towards our fellow man — regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity, or nationality – Harris Wofford is a hero. Shocked and a little star struck, I managed to tell Senator Wofford that I was a “child of his legacy.”
I had voted for him in Pennsylvania and served in AmeriCorps NCCC after graduating from college. I gave the Senator some material on America’s Unofficial Ambassadors, and we spent an hour after the session having coffee and talking about the Middle East. Since then, it has been my honor to count Senator Wofford as a supporter of America’s Unofficial Ambassadors and a privilege to call him a friend.
On Tuesday night, the television cameras captured Harris Wofford at the State of the Union. To me, the TV shot was fitting, as the President’s closing words embody Harris Wofford’s life work and the path that he and leaders like Martin Luther King and Sargent Shriver blazed for the rest of us.
The President concluded his speech by saying, “As Americans, we all share the same proud title — we are citizens. It’s a word that doesn’t just describe our nationality or legal status. It describes the way we’re made. It describes what we believe. It captures the enduring idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations, that our rights are wrapped up in the rights of others; and that well into our third century as a nation, it remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter of our American story.”
We are thrilled that Senator Wofford will receive the Presidential Citizens Medal today at 10:45AM at the White House. To read more about the award and ceremony, click here . On behalf of America’s Unofficial Ambassadors, we wish Senator Wofford warm congratulations, and we thank him for leadership and strength that have made us a better country and a better people.