President Bush encouraged students graduating from Furman University to contribute to a rising culture of personal responsibility by serving others and being accountable to themselves and their families.
He said he has seen the spirit of service in Americans who are changing lives in Africa.
"Our citizens are teaching children in Ghana, helping villagers fight malaria and HIV/AIDS in Tanzania, and helping war-ravaged people recover and rebuild in Liberia," said President Bush. "These citizens are showing the world the true face of America - a kind and generous Nation that is meeting its responsibility to help the poor, the sick, and the hungry."
With American volunteerism near all-time highs, President Bush said much good work is being carried out by community and faith-based groups serving in soup kitchens, helping prisoners rejoin society, and inspiring young people in inner city classrooms.
Mr. Bush said the spirit of service also lives in those who proudly wear America`s uniform.
"America is blessed to have citizens who volunteer in times of danger, and that includes some of you here today," he said. "You will leave Furman with more than a degree - you will also receive your commission as an officer in the United States military. I thank you for making the noble decision to serve. Your country is proud of you and so is your Commander-in-Chief."
It was a largely apolitical commencement speech without mention of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or the president`s struggles with Democrats in Congress over warrantless wiretaps and a free trade agreement with Colombia.
On this year`s presidential election, Mr. Bush noted that it will be the first vote for many of the students. He asked them to do their duty by casting a ballot. If they are wondering who to vote for, he said he and South Carolina`s Republican governor would be happy to offer a few suggestions.