Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: On the National Day of Service, let’s come together in the face of adversity

January 18, 2021 5:00 am

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in 2018 | Whitmer office photo

Once in a generation, we’re called to act in historic ways for the greater good. For Michiganders, 2020 was filled with glimpses of heroism amid unparalleled challenges that tested the fabric of our communities. 

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t just taken over 13,600 lives across our state, it’s devastated businesses, livelihoods and left too many families heartbroken. We know it didn’t have to be this bad — that’s why our state voted for change, for science and for real leadership. 

But it’s not devastation or politics that define us — it’s the rays of hope throughout the darkness. Over the past year, Michiganders came together throughout the chaos and wreckage in remarkable ways. 

From food drives to homemade personal protective equipment, to educators who dedicated themselves keeping our kids thriving and frontline workers who risked their lives and experienced the trauma of overflowing medical facilities.

It’s their fight and love of our communities that have kept us pressing on. Their bravery and drive helped us steel our shoulders, and press on for another day. It’s their hope and belief in the undying truth of America: That united, there’s nothing we can’t achieve. 

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris understand that it’s our differences and challenges that not only test us, but unify us and make us stronger. 

That’s why this year, the inaugural acts ushering in a new administration won’t just be filled with traditional pomp and circumstance. Instead, the beginning of a Biden-Harris administration will be defined by the acts of Americans and Michiganders who have helped save the soul of this nation through acts of everyday heroism and service to this country.

On the National Day of Service on Monday — the day we honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. —  the Biden Inaugural Committee, which I’m proud to chair, will be partnering with organizations in Michigan and across the country to address endemic challenges that have been exacerbated by COVID-19 — poverty, hunger, racial injustice, homelessness, mental health, educational disparities and environmental injustice. 

By coming together in the face of adversity, we can welcome a new dawn in which we no longer face adversity vulnerable and alone, but strong as one people.

Across Michigan, this National Day of Service will be in full swing, statewide. Just as the individual acts of our citizens and communities have been critical to keeping our heads above the quicksand of this pandemic, on this day the Biden-Harris administration will honor and celebrate their contributions as not just a bright spot in our country’s history, but as intrinsic to its future. 

We can welcome the dawn of a new era in the United States by recognizing first and foremost the acts of our citizens that make us extraordinary. That’s because encouraging the good and the best of humanity of this country is at the core of being a Michigander.

You can participate by signing up to volunteer here and encouraging your friends, family and neighbors to join.

We know that we’re stronger than any pandemic, sturdier than any economic headwinds and more united than any partisan divisions. Let’s start this new year and new presidency in a way that’s true to us — by giving back and fighting for the communities we cherish.

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Gretchen Whitmer
Gretchen Whitmer

Gretchen Whitmer is the 49th governor of Michigan, elected in 2018. A lifelong Michigander, she is a lawyer, an educator and a former Ingham County prosecutor. Whitmer was elected to the House of Representatives in 2000 and elected to the Michigan State Senate in 2006 where she served as the Senate Democratic Leader.