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"The Soul of our Nation..."

Exhibit Home Page || Ethics in Government || TV Trash

Program from the breakfast

Personal Ethics

The 1996 National Prayer Breakfast

Senator Sam Nunn with Vice President Al Gore at the Breakfast

Senator Nunn delivered the message at the 1996 National Prayer Breakfast message. During this speech, he reflected on the duties of leaders in the area of ethics. (Click here to read a transcript of his message.)

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"At home, the pillar of our national strength, the American family, is crumbling. Television and movies saturate our children with sex and violence. We have watered down our standards to the point where many of our youth are confused, discouraged and in deep trouble. We are reaping the harvest of parental neglect, divorce child abuse, teen pregnancy, school dropouts, illegal drugs, and streets full of violence."

Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hearing, 1979
1979 Senate committee hearing on drugs

Senator Nunn and Michelle Nunn at Hands 
on Atlanta headquarters
Senator Nunn and his daughter, Michelle

"Four years ago, my daughter, Michelle, and a few of her friends started an organization in Atlanta called Hands on Atlanta, making it exciting, efficient and fun for young people to volunteer their time to help those in need. Now, about 5 years later [1996], 10,000 volunteers each month render about 20,000 hours of personal, one-on-one service. What laws have I passed that have had this impact?"

"Congress can pass laws cracking down on those who refuse to support their children. But we cannot force husbands to honor their wives, wives to love their husbands, and both parents to nurture their children. Congress can pass laws on civil rights and equal rights, but we cannot force people of different races to love each other as brothers. Congress can promote fairness and efficiency in our tax code, but we cannot force the rich to show compassion toward the poor. We can join with our NATO allies to separate the warring factions in Bosnia, as we are doing, and give them a breathing space, but we cannot force Muslims, Croats and Serbs to live together as brothers in peace."

Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hearing on illegal weapons trafficking, 1977
1977 Senate committee hearing on weapons trafficking

Mrs. Whiteside's first grade class, 1992
Senator Nunn at Esther Jackson Elementary School, Roswell, GA

"What, then, are our duties as leaders, not just in the world of politics and government, but in every field represented here this morning and throughout our land? I believe that the example we set, particularly for our young people, may be the most important responsibility of public service. We must demonstrate with our daily lives that it is still possible to be involved in politics and still retain intellectual honesty and moral and ethical behavior."

For more information about the Sam Nunn Archive, contact Naomi L. Nelson at libnn@emory.edu