The Franklin Project believes that the citizenship that has made America great is alive today—but in pockets. It’s not universal. How do we revive this citizenship? How do we restore it to the core of the American psyche and culture? How do we ensure that as young people grow up, they become citizens and not individuals? The answer is: By giving them the opportunity to serve the country, and creating the expectation that they do so.

We’re working for a future in which serving the nation, either in the military or as a civilian, simply becomes an expected—and, thus, accepted—rite of passage into adulthood. It is not a hard future to imagine: All Americans would choose to serve some time in the decade between when they are 18 and 28. Their service would be voluntary—not legally required—but instead culturally mandatory. No one would dare not have an answer if every conversation started with, “Where did you serve?”