May 7, 2018
This Public Service Recognition Week we honor our friends, neighbors, and family members in the public service who serve our nation with honor and integrity. Their work keeps us safe, healthy, and secure. They live by the words of President John F. Kennedy in his 1961 special message to the Congress on ethics in government, that “[n]o responsibility of government is more fundamental than the responsibility of maintaining the highest standards of ethical behavior…”
As we celebrate public service, we also recognize that the actions of a few can tarnish the honorable service of the many and undermine the trust of citizens in their government.
Fortunately, President Kennedy offers us a solution: “Ultimately, high ethical standards can be maintained only if the leaders of government provide a personal example of dedication to the public service” and “the ultimate answer to ethical problems in government is honest people in a good ethical environment.”
President Kennedy also understood that public servants are “not a group apart. They inevitably reflect the moral tone of the society in which they live.” He knew that citizens play an important role— that they must maintain high expectations for integrity in government.
So, I invite you to join me in recognizing the important contributions of our public servants, thanking them for their service, and encouraging them in their efforts to strengthen our nation. I also invite you to join in refusing to accept corruption. In the words of President Ronald Reagan, expect your "[e]lected officials, their appointees, and government workers…to perform their public acts with honesty, openness, diligence, and special integrity.”1
1 Ronald Reagan, The Last Best Hope: The Greatest Speeches of Ronald Reagan 56 (2016).