Former Secretary of State and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell spoke to thousands of delegates at the Lions Club International convention in Minneapolis this morning.
Founder of America's Promise and namesake of a charter school in Minneapolis, he urged Americans to rededicate themselves to community service.
"We have always been a nation of volunteers, going back to the beginning of our formation," he said. "And this is the time for people to step forward and help your fellow citizens who are in need as a result of the economic problems we're having, but just because its the right thing to do, whether we had economic problems or not, we need more volunteers stepping forward."
Speaking to reporters before his speech, Powell said the U.S. can't let Russia dictate whether it pursues a global missile defense system.
He said he was pleased at President Barack Obama's efforts to establish a new nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia.
Russia's foreign minister said that progress would be jeopardized if the U.S. decides to create a global missile defense system. But Powell says Russia "can't have veto power over what we think is needed."
There are 13,000 members of the Lions Club International from 205 countries meeting in Minneapolis at the Convention Center. The convention continues through Saturday.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)