There is a rich history of volunteerism in America. The number one reason for government is to provide national security for its stakeholders. Most governments do this by recruiting armies, In the early years of our country we recruited militia. Militia are volunteers that meet this basic need of protecting our citizens from outsiders. But, we volunteer in many other ways as well.
Perhaps the earliest form of volunteerism besides the militia are opportunities for people to serve in their local churches. Even before we were raising arms against the English we were fighting for freedom of religion. Ironically this freedom could be best described as a separation of church and state. Before the American Revolution the Church of England was punishing Christians in America who disagreed with them. There was a revival of the teachings of Martin Luther on the Princeton seminary campus at that time called The Great Awakening. Salvation by faith. and not the rituals and duties of the Church of England was the drive behind this revival. The Church of England had no separation of church and the state. The English saw this as a direct attack on their government. This is a well known story, but I find the side story even more interesting. The side story is the streams of volunteers who served in these churches with no reward of employment or patronage from their new found faith. They did things like feed the hungry, take care of widows and orphans, care for the sick, and educate the young. Who were these church workers who served so selflessly? They were countless volunteers motivated by a faith that few could understand apart from conversion. In my opinion, this lack of understanding led to overcompensation by our government to make these services into entitlement.