Historic pieces to commemorate Peace Corps 50th Anniversary
Created by peacecorpsconnect on Jan 31, 2011
Last updated: 08/05/11 at 02:55 PM
There is, here in Washington today, well over 100,000 people from Ethiopia and Eritrea. They were getting riled up and choosing sides. Those of us that served in Ethiopia, together with Chic Dambach, who is here in the gallery, set out to try to get these people here in the Washington area to work towards peace rather than to get into an argument amongst themselves over which country was right or wrong. From there we very quickly found ourselves invited to travel to both Ethiopia and Eritrea, where we were able to meet with the heads of state.
In both cases, the team that was assembled, there were five of us, myself, I was then just leaving Federal Government service as the Deputy Secretary of the Interior. Mr. Dambach had just left the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Association, the National Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Association, a Federal appellate court judge who had served in Ethiopia who was then on the bench in Arizona in the Ninth Circuit; Mike McCaskey, who was then the president of the Chicago Bears; and another fellow who was deeply involved in African relief issues.
We journeyed and we sat down and met with first the President of Eritrea and had a 3-hour conversation with him about the war and why the war was underway, what his goals were.
We then traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where we met first with the foreign minister of Ethiopia, who actually was a student of Mike McCaskey. They talked about it, and there was this bond that was immediately established between them.
Shortly thereafter, the foreign minister arranged a meeting with Prime Minister Meles, and, again, we spent nearly 3 hours with him asking him about the war from his perspective, what there was. It came to the five of us that there was a way to find peace , that there was a path that could bridge these differences that these two countries had that at that point had resulted in nearly 100,000 soldiers, both Ethiopia and Eritrean, having been killed in that war.
We turned that information over to the Organization of African Unity, which was then working towards some sort of a settlement. And, shortly thereafter, within a couple of months, the basic elements of the peace treaty were developed, and they were based upon the work that we had done. There was some more back and forth that took place. But our team was invited to Algeria for the signing of the ceremony of peace .
So the work for peace really never ends, and I know you are doing it here in Congress.
by Dr. Joby Taylor
Published in WorldView Vol. 22 No. 4
We are in a unique moment in history. The staggering social and material needs of our nation and world are matched by a growing global citizen desire to be engaged in solving problems and a rapidly expanding potential for connecting global needs with citizen solutions through emerging technologies and communications tools. Now is a moment for a powerful Call to Service and Peace, a call backed by a broad slate of programmatic opportunities for those (millions?) who can and will respond. True to the framing of its founding days, the Peace Corps of the 21st century must strive to blend compassion and pragmatism in its mission. To use Sargent Shriver’s term, it must continue to seek the recipe for Practical Idealism, a commitment to social hope blended with the skills and savvy to get things done.
What is the proper ordering of goals in the Peace Corps: Is it primarily a cultural exchange program? An aid and development organization? An instrument of U.S. foreign relations? The answer is: All of the above. The Peace Corps, at its best, is a transformative personal experience for our own citizens and their host country counterparts; it is a grassroots development agency offering an effective hand up (not a hand out) in thousands of communities around the world; and it is the smartest smart power in our international affairs portfolio. This integration of goals is the elegant genius of the Peace Corps.
Now, more than ever, we have the potential to roll together Peace Corps’s Three Goals into a single mission to “promote world peace and friendship.” Sargent Shriver’s audacious hope and vision for the Peace Corps is worthy of renewed attention today. As late as the days immediately after 9/11/2001, the Agency’s first director spoke these challenging words: "Our present world cries out for a new Peace Corps—a vastly improved, expanded, and profoundly deeper enterprise.... I'm not defending the old Peace Corps—I'm attacking it! We didn't go far enough! Our dreams were large, but our actions were small. We never really gave the goal of 'World Wide Peace' an overwhelming commitment. Nor did we establish a clear, inspiring vision for attaining it" (Nov. 2001).
We should take up Shriver’s challenge and develop a new “Towering Task” for a 21st century Peace Corps: Preserving that which is good, adapting that which is not, and thinking creatively and intelligently about the future potential of the Peace Corps as it approaches its 50th anniversary. Anticipating this timely opportunity, The NPCA and individual Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) have been generating big ideas including discussions of new country partners, new service partnerships, new uses of technology, new volunteer models, new types of projects, and new administrative structures. Their ideas are diverse, but their collective wisdom agrees about this unique chance to re-invigorate the Peace Corps and make it better and bolder.
Here’s a starting place: For volunteers, the Peace Corps is often, and with good reason, thought of as an experience of a lifetime. That’s not bad, but our opportunity today is to reframe the Peace Corps as an “Experience for Life.” Those two years of engagement shouldn’t be something we head into planning to look back on with longing and nostalgia…as an adventurous and idealistic timeout between college and career (or at other life stages). We know that the Peace Corps is an experience that transforms lives, so why not reframe it as Peace Corps for Life. In our flattening world, all three Peace Corps Goals are now actionable at all stages of Peace Corps service. Let’s draw a matrix with Before/During/ and After Peace Corps along one axis and Goal One/Goal Two/ and Goal Three along the other, and then let the brainstorming of those nine boxes begin!
While this simple exercise will generate new ideas for the pre and in-service stages of Peace Corps, perhaps the largest untapped potential of the Peace Corps for Life reframing lies in life after the close of service (COS). I propose that COS should be re-described as Continuation of Service. Goal Three, typically reserved for RPCVs, should be blown wide open conceptually to include pre- and in-service volunteers, and, upon COS, it should be given teeth through programmatic opportunities. Both Shriver and Kennedy envisioned RPCVs as the chief impact of the Peace Corps experiment (a vision that was both a key political argument for its early Congressional support, and went way beyond classroom slideshows). In their same spirit of Practical Idealism, RPCVs should be charged and expected to become model global citizens for life.
One way to make Peace Corps for Life real would be to make Peace Corps Response a universal experience for all RPCVs. The model could be flexible, offering diverse opportunities for RPCVs at different stages: pre, mid, and post career. For example, within the first five years of returning, RPCVs should be supported to creatively integrate a continuing project in their primary Peace Corps post site into their graduate studies or as part of their professional development. RPCVs in midcareer positions should be supported to develop creative ways of applying their skills and expertise through short, in-the-field consulting roles, or as PCV or host country trainers and mentors through online professional development systems. And post-career RPCVs, while re-upping as PCVs themselves in some numbers through Peace Corps’s 50+ initiative, remain an enormous and barely-tapped resource if we would simply commit to finding creative ways to engage their expertise while supporting their specific needs such as continuing health care. In many cases, these last two RPCV groups could be challenged to bring matching resources to support their ongoing engagement.
Another way to give Peace Corps for Life programmatic teeth is to expand and enhance the pathways bridging Peace Corps service to professional careers in service and development. New public service pathways could build directly upon the longstanding Federal retirement and non-competitive employment benefits of Peace Corps service. For example, within that first year window, RPCVs with adequate qualifications should have special eligibility for programs like the Presidential Management Fellowship. While I hesitate to undermine its importance, the longstanding “readjustment allowance” seems unhelpfully framed as a retrospective “thank you” for service. Let’s keep this modest unrestricted award, but create a new and larger Peace Corps for Life Education Award. Given that most RPCVs return for graduate school, this transition stage is a pivotal bridge for connecting Peace Corps experience with a career and life pathway in service. Similar to AmeriCorps or the GI Bill, RPCVs should earn Education Awards that universally encourage them to deepen and apply the knowledge and skills they gained in the Peace Corps.
The current Peace Corps Fellows/USA and Masters International programs already constitute a network of over 100 universities nationwide, diverse institutions offering dozens of disciplinary options and, importantly, building in significant domestic community service and service learning experiences. Domestic service-learning helps RPCVs readjust to life at home by engaging them in local issues while connecting them with a new community of service peers and partners. These independently run Fellows programs could match the new Peace Corps Service for Life Education Award, giving RPCVs double the incentive to get involved as professional service leaders across the country. (An alternate way to realize this could be to have the Peace Corps Fellows/USA programs simply become a national AmeriCorps Consortium. In this way, the continued domestic service of RPCVs would earn them an AmeriCorps Education Award.)
RPCVs have certainly been realizing Kennedy and Shriver’s bold vision independently for nearly 50 years. The Peace Corps can take this powerful organic phenomenon to scale, creating a powerful engine for service leadership in our nation and worldwide. By bringing the call to lifelong service and peacebuilding into the very heart of the Peace Corps mission; we can create programmatic pathways that allow every Volunteer to turn a transformative two-year experience into Peace Corps for Life.
[Joby Taylor PhD (Gabon 91-93, Peace Corps Fellows/USA 99-01) is Director of the Shriver Peaceworker Fellows Program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.]
Africa Rural Connect (ARC), a program of the National Peace Corps Association, launched in 2009, is an online global collaboration network where knowledgeable people work together to communicate and respond to the needs of African farmers. The ARC platform allows current and returned Peace Corps volunteers, the African Diaspora, and others, to take an active role in building development initiatives that can directly affect the lives of rural farmers.
Published in WorldView Magazine - Vol. 21 No. 3
Congratulations to Peace Corps Volunteers of the 20th century. Congratulations, too, to the National Peace Corps Association and to current Volunteers and staff in this first decade of our new century. You are setting the pace and pointing the way to a 21st century Peace Corps that will be bigger, better and bolder.
In this presidential campaign, I’ve set forth a comprehensive plan for a large expansion of voluntary citizen service, at home and abroad. An integral part of that plan is the growth of the Peace Corps in quality and quantity – a quantum leap. We recall that President Kennedy hoped the Peace Corps would grow to 100,000 volunteers, but the program peaked at 16,000 in 1966. Today there are about 8,000. If Kennedy’s vision had been fulfilled, there would have been more than two million returned Volunteers with first-hand experience in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe, with a commitment to help America play a more constructive role in the world.
To restore America’s standing, I will call
on our greatest resource – our people. We will double the size of the Peace Corps by its 50th anniversary in 2011. And, we’ll reach out to other nations to engage their young people in similar programs, so that we work side by side to take on the common challenges that confront all humanity. The Peace Corps has been a key part of meeting those challenges such as overcoming poverty, combating diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria, and reducing the global education deficit. This will not be a call issued in one speech or one program. This will be an important and enduring commitment of my presidency.
To resume the Peace Corps’ growth, we will push Congress to fully fund the expansion to 16,000 by 2011. I will work with former Peace Corps Volunteer Sen. Chris Dodd and the other returned Peace Corps Volunteers in Congress, Republicans and Democrats, and with
the National Peace Corps Association to bring this about.
One of the Peace Corps’ founders, Harris Wofford told me how the petition to Senator John Kennedy by nearly 1,000 University of Michigan students who
pledged their support of his proposed volunteer corps was the trigger that caused him to give his major address proposing a Peace Corps at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. Generations of Peace Corps Volunteers, as active-duty citizens, have turned Kennedy’s call to service into reality.
Almost half a century later, I am not just asking for your vote as a candidate.
If I am elected President, I will ask for your continued service and your active citizenship in the years to come. With the Peace Corps’ present emphasis on recruiting Volunteers age 50-plus, an expanded Corps will open new opportunities for service to young and old, and help move America closer to the day when voluntary service, at home or abroad, in some form, at some stage of life, becomes the common expectation and experience of all Americans.
WorldView Fall 2008 - Vol. 21, No. 3 by Robert C. Terry, Jr.
Yes, President Kennedy created the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961. No, the idea was not his alone, and did not spring from his mind full-blown. While today we seek to expand it in our twenty-first century context, we should glance backward to understand how it evolved over 70 years via many clashes among disasters, ideas, and experiments.
Our Peace Corps story begins in 1895 as philosopher William James began years of disputes with politician Theodore Roosevelt over issues raised by pampered Gilded Age youths, the Spanish-American War, quashing Filipino insurgents, and America's first peace movement. James understood how appealing are our age-old rites of passage: athletics, adventure, military exploits.
Seeking an alternative, “something heroic that will speak to men as universally as war does,” he first suggested the ancient religious idea of individuals choosing to serve. “May not,” he asked, “voluntarily accepted poverty be 'the strenuous life', without the need of crushing weaker peoples?” By 1910, in his famous essay, The Moral Equivalent of War, he changed his argument to a modern idea of social policy, urging that “our gilded youth” be “drafted” into “the immemorial warfare against nature.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Army, mustering out young soldiers after fighting Filipino guerrillas, offered them the chance to remain in the Philippines and teach. Many did. Of 12,000 more who volunteered volunteered at home, 540 shipped west aboard the U.S.S. Thomas. By 1933, when the program ended, hundreds of "Thomasites" had trained thousands of Filipino teachers in English and other subjects.
After World War I, James' idea inspired other innovations. A Swiss conscientious objector, Pierre Ceresole, led volunteers reconstructing a war-torn village in France. His work camp concept spread and created Service Civil Internationale (SCI), which expanded later to Africa and Asia. A Bengali SCI leader, whom I met in India in 1958, later became my Peace Corps deputy and life-long friend.
Franklin Roosevelt led America out of its 1930s Depression by “bold, persistent experimentation.” The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) put Army officers in charge of poor city youths to clear forests and build roads. In Vermont, a camp failed through lack of local knowledge and support. A German professor and work camp pioneer, exiled by Hitler, led Dartmouth and Harvard students to join farmers in petitioning Roosevelt to try again, but with youths of all social strata working with local neighbors. FDR agreed. The CCC reopened its site, chartered formally as "Camp William James."
In 1932, a determined visionary, Donald Watt, launched experiments to learn how teen-agers from various countries might overcome language and cultural barriers to live and work together amicably. Trials and errors created an effective format – immersing one student in one country, in one family, with good training and bi-national leaders – and an organization, The Experiment in International Living. A 1934 “Experimenter,” Sargent Shriver, went on to twice serve as an Experiment group leader.
Shriver recalled: “The Experiment taught me how to form the Peace Corps 30 years later – speak the language, wear the clothes, eat the food, accept the customs, waste no money, study ... play ... learn.” In early 1961, Shriver asked The Experiment's President, Gordon Boyce, to join him for six months to design Peace Corps partnerships with private agencies such as CARE, 4-H Clubs, Operation Crossroads Africa and International Farm Youth Exchange. Others designed partnerships with universities and labor unions.
The Experiment's School for International Training trained 23 Peace Corps Volunteer groups and managed several abroad; I led its first. Family homestays during in-country training are now standard worldwide. Today, The Experiment, now part of World Learning, is headed by Carol Bellamy (Guatamala 1963-65) and the first returned Peace Corps Volunteer to serve as Peace Corps Director (1993-95).
After World War II, both religious and secular agencies expanded. In 1953, several service groups, including Mennonite, Quaker, and Unitarian, formed International Voluntary Service (IVS). Brethren Service volunteers taught Chinese to drive American tractors. The Experiment, American Field Service, and university programs grew, aided by cheap voyages to Europe by student ships.
While visiting Southeast Asia in 1957, Rep. Henry Reuss (D-Wisc), an Experiment parent, met IVS volunteers, who inspired him to propose a “Point Four Youth Corps” and in Congress to gain $10,000 to study its “advisability and practicality.” Sen. Hubert Humphrey (D-Minn) encouraged a young staffer, Peter Grothe, to draft a bill proposing a “Peace Corps”, which he gave to Democratic presidential candidate Kennedy. Lt. General James Gavin endorsed the idea, although President Eisenhower and Republican candidate Richard Nixon ridiculed it as “juvenile.” These proposals and the study, New Frontiers for American Youth, cited the rich history of private efforts over decades.
Political opportunity beckoned at 2 AM one October night when University of Michigan students wildly cheered Kennedy's off-the-cuff challenge: “How many of you are willing to give two years of your lives . . . ?“ It ripened two weeks later when over a thousand organized instantly as Americans Committed to World Reponsibility, and petitioned Kennedy (and also Nixon!) to launch an overseas service program. This encouraged Kennedy’s formal proposal of a Peace Corps in San Francisco just before election day, 1960.
Kennedy, Shriver, and their staffs had ample private sector experience to help scale the idea up into a new public program. Looking forward, Congress and the Peace Corps should expand its traditions of innovations and partnerships, captured by the title of Gerard Rice's fine 1985 history, The Bold Experiment.
[Robert Terry led the first Peace Corps Volunteers sent to East Pakistan, now Bangladesh (1961-63), and served later as a Trustee of The Experiment in International Living and Director of the National Peace Corps Association.]
NPCA’s More Peace Corps campaign (2008-2010) for a bigger, better and bolder Peace Corps led the way in securing an increase in funding for the Peace Corps beyond the amount requested by the President, which has only happened three times in its history. This campaign involved more than 20,000 active participants.
Demand for volunteers exceeds supply; more than 20 additional countries have requested volunteers and existing programs need greater numbers.
The number of presently serving volunteers - 7,671 - is half the total of four decades ago.
The astounding success of the Peace Corps, managed on a budget of $400 million - just over a dollar per year for every U.S. citizen - deserves recognition and increase.
Urge Congress and the President to appropriate larger funding for Peace Corps through a comprehensive advocacy campaign along with endorsements from prominent leaders.
Raise awareness of Peace Corps among prospective volunteers and the general public through highly visible public events and outreach programs.
Raise awareness of the ongoing success of the Peace Corps community - the forgotten dividend of Peace Corps service.
I’m proud to be here with the National Peace Corps Association, to honor a cause that has done so much to shape my life—and the lives of so many people in this room.
And I’m glad to be here with Senator Harris Wofford, one of the Peace Corps’s guiding lights; former Peace Corps Director Mark Schneider; members of the NPCA Advisory Council, Ron Boring, Gordon Radley, and Paul Slawson; and all of the members of the Director’s Circle whose support is so vital to NPCA in its efforts for a vital and independent Peace Corps.
But for all of the hard work put in by everyone in this room—if no one stayed up past midnight, there might not be a Peace Corps. That a great nation should send its youth abroad, not to extend its power, not to intimidate its enemies, not to kill and be killed, but to build, to dig, to teach, and to ask nothing in return—it’s one of the most radical ideas I know.
It’s not the kind of idea that comes out of a subcommittee, or a board meeting, or whatever would have been the 1960s equivalent of PowerPoint. Rather, the idea behind the Peace Corps is the kind you stumble on in the wee hours, after your third cup of coffee, when all the more conventional business of the day has been put to bed.
That’s the uniqueness of the idea we’ve inherited. Most of us here have lived with it for the whole length of our adult lives, until it stoped seeming so unique. But if I can restore its outrageousness just a bit this morning—if I can remind you of the surprise you may have felt when you first heard that such a thing as the Peace Corps existed, and that the world’s most powerful nation was paying good money for it—I think I will have done my job.
So let’s start with this fact: The Peace Corps was born at two in the morning. On October 14, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy was hours late for a campaign stop at the University of Michigan. He guessed that most of the crowd had already gone home—but when he drove up to the student union in the dark, he found them waiting for him in droves. Ten thousand students had waited all night, outdoors, in the cold to hear him speak.
Now, you know I’ve done my share of national campaigning, and the stories are true—it’s exhausting. I can only imagine, from personal experience, that Senator Kennedy was coming off of several months of late nights, uncomfortable beds, and bad food. So the temptation must have been overwhelming to give the Michigan students a “Thank you for coming out,” recite a few lines from memory, and send them home.
But at some point—whether it was when he first began making his way into that enormous, floodlit crowd, or whether it was when all ten thousand of them began chanting his name as he climbed the student union steps—Senator Kennedy realized that this was special. He realized he owed them more.
And what he gave them was a direct challenge: “How many of you who are going to be doctors, are willing to spend your days in Ghana? Technicians or engineers, how many of you are willing to work in the Foreign Service and spend your lives traveling around the world?”
I believe that that challenge is our Peace Corps’s founding document. And it’s a fitting one. We didn’t get out start with a white paper, or a vetted speech, or a campaign commercial; in fact, we didn’t get our start with a statement of any kind. We began with a question. Showing up for a candidate is one thing—but how many of you will take that dedication and use it to repair the world?
That was the question—but if you had asked the next day, the odds were good that it was going to stay a question, that it was going to degenerate from a powerful challenge to merely a nice, forgettable idea. John Kennedy didn’t have an organization in mind, he didn’t have funding—he didn’t even have a name for it.
In the early going, he only had one thing. It was a petitition. It was drafted by Michigan students a few days after Kennedy asked his question—and its answer was an emphatic “Yes.” It circulated at colleges all over the state, and by the time its sponsors were ready to present it to JFK in person, it had grown to several scrolls bearing thousands and thousands of names. Just days before the election, they handed them over to JFK. He paused a second and then grinned: “You need them back, don’t you?” As Harris Wofford reminds us, these were the days before the Xerox, and the students hadn’t had time to copy down all the names.
But JFK didn’t need any more proof—letters answering his challenge were flooding into his headquarters, and soon they totaled 30,000.
By then, his top advisors were working on a plan in earnest, and soon it was rolled out. They didn’t rely on Senator Kennedy’s unscripted call to service—they made the case for a Peace Corps in the hard language of realpolitik.
In the first official speech on the Peace Corps, one idea was dominant: the Russians—if we don’t start doing our part for the developing world, the Communists will. So yes, the Peace Corps found its place in the realities of the Cold War, just as it is finding its place now in the uncertain world of this new century, when we face conflicts with people who know as little of America as we know of them.
But the idea that service could be a tool of foreign policy—even, in some ways, a weapon of war—was radical in itself. It says that that there are more measures of strength than caliber or tonnage or blast-radius. It says that the world needs to see our ideals not just in ink, but incarnate in the young man or woman with dirty hands who is working in the sun beside you. It says that you can only hate America if you don’t know America.
And that idea took shape because of a few thousand students who knew their moment when they saw it—and because John Kennedy’s campaign had the nimbleness and the imagination to seize on it. Sargent Shriver wrote that the Peace Corps would probably “still be just an idea but for the affirmative response of those Michigan students and faculty….It was almost a case of spontaneous combustion.”
If the story of the Peace Corps were a movie, it might end then and there. We can imagine JFK’s call being triumphantly answered, and, as the credits roll, streams of young volunteers shipping off the next day. But even the most revolutionary ideas have a way of coming back down to earth. Even as Kennedy moved to make the Peace Corps a centerpiece of his administration, the criticism began. Richard Nixon called it “a haven for draft-dodgers.” Dwight Eisenhower called it “a juvenile experiment.”
And in a way, blanket criticism like that was the easiest to deal with. Far more dangerous was criticism from the inside, the kind that came from old foreign policy hands who responded, in essence: “What a wonderful idea—but keep it small!”
Because a strong consensus was forming among academics and State Department experts: “Proceed cautiously, start with small pilot projects, don’t make mistakes, limit the program to 1,000 or 2,000 for a beginning…don’t let this experiment get out of hand.” Some thought that the number of volunteers should be no more than 500. They spoke convincingly about minimizing risks, guarding our reputation, and avoiding a fiasco. And if they had gotten their way, serving in the Peace Corps would be, to coin a phrase, safe, legal, and rare.
The fact that it isn’t—the fact that many of us are here this morning at all—is due to another late-night moment of inspiration.
It happened at the Peace Corps’s first official headquarters—a hotel room in downtown Washington. At that point, the staff of the Peace Corps totaled two: Two Kennedy aides, Sargent Shriver and Harris Wofford, holed up in that hotel room with stacks of paper and a few typewriters, trying to figure out how to put this outrageous idea into practice. But despite regular calls from JFK asking them what was taking so long—this was in February of 1961, about three weeks after the inauguration—they hadn’t even figured out the name yet.
What Shriver did know, he later told us, was that he couldn’t stand the cautious, conventional approach that was in vogue. He knew that America would only have one chance to get this right—but he needed the intellectual ammunition to prove it.
He found it at three in the morning, halfway through a stack of letters and memos. Someone had wanted him to read a short paper by a man named Warren Wiggins, a midlevel employee at the State Department. The paper was called “The Towering Task,” and it took its name from a line in JFK’s first State of the Union address: “The problems…are towering and unprecedented—and the response must be towering and unprecedented as well.” Wiggins was proposing that the Peace Corps be just such a huge endeavor.
He began by methodically tearing down the case for a small, cautious Corps. First, a tiny commitment wouldn’t be enough to win the support. He wrote the imaginary reaction of a foreign ambassador asked to host just 100 American volunteers: “1) What can 100 youths do? 2) What will Washington think of next? 3) We have too many Americans here in this country, anyway. 4) What a terrible chance we are taking with all these kids.”
In other words, 100 kids are a nuisance—but multiply that nuisance by 50, and the equation changes entirely. As Wiggins wrote: “One hundred youths engaged in agricultural work of some sort in Brazil might pass by unnoticed, except for the problems involved, but 5,000 American youths helping to build Brasilia might warrant the full attention and support of the President of Brazil himself.”
But if a tiny Peace Corps would do next to nothing for the host countries, it would do even less for our country. The tremendous student response to JFK’s question was still fresh in everyone’s mind; but if the plan for caution was taken seriously, it meant that only two or three graduates from every college would ever have the chance of serving. And if, after inspiring a generation with talk of towering problems and torches being passed, Kennedy announced nothing more than a stripped-down, underfunded bureaucracy—it would be nothing less than hypocrisy.
Instead, Wiggins concluded, the Peace Corps needed to begin with a “quantum jump.” It needed to begin immediately, by executive order, with 5,000 to 10,000 volunteers and the potential to grow to as many as 100,000.
The idea hit Sargent Shriver like lightning—he fired off a telegram, and within six hours, Warren Wiggins had arrived at the hotel and working on a report for the President. Within a month, Kennedy had created the Peace Corps by executive order. Within two years, more than 7,000 young Americans were serving abroad. And by 1966, 15,000 were.
One of them was a 22-year-old English major from Providence College, who arrived in the small village of Monción in the Dominican Republic, without much Spanish or the faintest idea what he was doing, without a clue that more than 40 years later, he’d be standing in the Capitol, telling you that the Peace Corps gave him the richest two years of his life. I owe those years, and the shape of all the years after, which they molded so much, to John Kennedy and his unscripted 2 a.m. question, and to Warren Wiggins and his unpretentious 3 a.m. paper.
From this story—which above all is a story of spontaneity, and government working at its best, and the remarkable things that happen when leaders really listen—I think we can draw two lessons.
First, size matters. The perils of a small, timid Peace Corps are just as clear today as they were in 1961. Just as then, advocates of a stripped-down mission make the same arguments: Sending untrained, untested students only aggravates our host countries and raises the chance of a mishap—so let’s send a few experts instead. And just as in 1961, our response is fundamentally the same, and fundamentally correct: Of course we need volunteers of the highest quality.
But we need the highest quantities, too. Every American of good willl we send abroad is another chance to make America known to a world that often fears and suspects us. And every American who returns from that service is a gift: a citizen who strengthens us with firsthand knowledge of the world.
As Sargent Shriver said, “Peace Corps Volunteers come home to the USA realizing that there are billions—yes, billions—of human beings not enraptured by our pretensions, or our practices, or even our standards of conduct.”
President Kennedy predicted that, within a few decades, we’d have more than one million returned volunteers. They’d add immeasurably to our debates on foreign policy. They’d be a formidable voting bloc, calling leaders to account when they neglect the world. But despite a promising start, we are far short of President Kennedy’s goal—today, there are fewer than 200,000 returned volunteers, after nearly a half-century.
For the sake of the world’s understanding of America, and America’s understanding of the world, we have a lot of catching up to do. I say we should double the Peace Corps.
But there’s a second lesson in the story I’ve told today. Size matters—but it comes at a cost. The bigger any organism grows, the slower it gets. The Peace Corps that charted its course in a hotel room with a staff of two now enjoys a staff of thousands and a fine office building close to the White House. And that’s all to the good—the Peace Corps couldn’t act on the dramatic scale we want it to act on, without all that apparatus behind it. Even the most groundbreaking ideas must all make, in good time, what the philosopher Gramsci called “the long march through the institutions.”
But there wouldn’t be a Peace Corps if JFK had stuck to the script in Ann Arbor. There wouldn’t be a Peace Corps if thousands of students, acting on their own initiative, hadn’t caught his attention with their movement. There might not be a Peace Corps if Sargent Shriver had listened to the respectable voices of caution. Virtually alone among all our organs of government, the Peace Corps is unique for its grassroots origin.
So as we grow the Peace Corps—as we get it the volunteers it needs and the increased funding it deserves—we must respect its roots. We must work to make it more decentralized, because service at its best is personal and spontaneous, and because volunteers know far more about conditions on the ground than we in Washington ever will.
We can start that transformation today. In the Senate, I’ve introduced a Peace Corps bill that would give volunteers more initiative and responsibility. We can set aside a portion of the annual Peace Corps budget as seed monies; volunteers can use the money for demonstration projects in their host countries or for “third goal” projects at home to promote understanding of the world. We can encourage volunteers to take advantage of the private sector by authorizing them to accept, under carefully-defined circumstances, donations to support their projects. We can bring the Peace Corps into the digital age by establishing websites and email links for use by volunteers in-country. And finally, we need to bring more volunteers into the decision-making process—they should have input into staffing decisions, site selection, language training, and country programs.
So we ought to work to make the Peace Corps bigger, and more decentralized, at the same time. I believe we can, at the same time, extend its worldwide reach and honor its grassroots past. Doing both is the best way to be true to the spirit that created it: the spirit that turned student activism into government action, that combined Cold War diplomacy with the spontaneous need to serve.
Warren Wiggins died last year, at the age of 84, and there was a line in his obituary that sums up the spirit behind our Peace Corps better than any I can think of. The obituary quoted Harris Wofford: “I think he embodied the watchwords that were once given to me: We must be more inventive if we’re going to do our duty.”
Inventiveness and duty: They’re qualities that don’t often go together. Duty can stifle imaginations; and creativity, in turn, can take us far afield from what we owe to others. Putting our creativity in the full service of our duty—it is one of the most difficult tasks there is. But it can be done—and when it is, what great things we can achieve!
The Peace Corps is proof. Today we honor it, and pledge ourselves to keep it young—because it’s done so much to keep us young ourselves. We are blessed to have had it in our lives.
World View Magazine While the Peace Corps is indelibly linked to the presidency of John F. Kennedy, there would not have been a Peace Corps without the efforts of Minnesota Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (later Vice President of the United States). I had the privilege of serving as the foreign relations adviser to Senator Humphrey and working for the newly created Peace Corps, and so I had an extraordinary front row seat to observe “how it all began.” Unknown to most, Humphrey first put forward the idea of American volunteers serving abroad way back in 1948, in the Minneapolis living room of George and Dorothy Jacobsen. Also present was Humphrey’s close friend, Orville Freeman (later Governor of Minnesota and Secretary of Agriculture) and Freeman’s wife, Jane. George Jacobsen was active in the cooperative movement and he was discussing the great benefits of community development. According to Jane—who recently told me about the now-historic living room conversation— Humphrey leapt to the idea of a volunteer corps serving overseas and became very enthusiastic as he spoke about its potential. However the idea lay dormant for many years while Humphrey worked on legislation for his wide range of interests. (It was said that he “had more solutions than there were problems.”) The volunteer corps idea jumped back into his consciousness after a talk in 1956 with Ed Snyder, then the congressional lobbyist for the Quakers. They spoke about the admirable work that Quaker volunteers were doing abroad and Humphrey reaffirmed his keen interest in legislation whereby the U.S. government would fund a corps of young volunteers. He spoke about his idea on a number of speeches in the late 1950s. I went to work for the senator in 1960 and came across the Peace Corps idea in his files (although it still didn’t have a name) and asked him whether I could work on it. Humphrey was busy running in the Democratic presidential primaries and so he didn’t have much time to spend developing the legislation. He responded with an enthusiastic “Absolutely!” I spent part of the next six weeks interviewing anyone I could find who worked for organizations whose focus was assisting peoples in the developing countries (which mainly meant Christian missionary groups), and then wrote a draft of the legislation. The Senator said, “It looks good, but take it over to the people at the foreign aid administration (then called the International Cooperation Administration, or ICA) and see what they think.” I talked with six top ICA administrators–an hour each–and five of the six had the same reaction, which can be summarized as: “It is a lovely-sounding idea, but it will never work! We would be sending over all these young people to countries where age and experience are so respected. Also, the young volunteers would have to adapt to very different cultures, and they might mess up. Sorry to say it, but it just won’t work!” I returned to the office discouraged. I was a young man in my 20s and, I thought, those older, experienced people at ICA surely knew a lot more than I did. I reported their reaction to the senator and his response was vintage Humphrey. “That’s the trouble with those people in the Eisenhower administration!” he exploded. “Their attitude is ‘let’s not try anything new, no new starts!’ All they see are the problems! They place the problems so high (and he raised both arms over his head) that they don’t see the challenges. They don’t see the opportunities. I want to grasp the opportunities! Peter, draft me a bill!” I returned to my office and drafted a bill, based on Humphrey’s vision and on what I had learned from many, many interviews with persons who had done volunteer work abroad. Now, the question arose, what do we call this thing? Humphrey had some pieces of legislation and proposals with the word “peace” in them; the “Food for Peace” legislation was the best-known example at the time. To be consistent with the Humphrey “peace” theme, I toyed with the name “Works for Peace Corps.” However, that seemed a bit cumbersome and so I just wrote down the name “Peace Corps.” I floated it to a number of friends who worked in government. Some said, “’Peace Corps sounds really communistic!” Others said, “Don’t call it ‘Corps.’ That sounds too militaristic!” But Humphrey liked the name and somehow “Peace Corps” stuck and is still with us today.
In 2005, the National Peace Corps Association became aware of a pilot military recruitment program in which Peace Corps service was referenced as an option through which members of the armed services could complete their military obligation. Concerned that this initiative crossed a line in distinguishing between the two forms of service, NPCA launched a public education and advocacy effort to encourage removing Peace Corps from such initiatives.
In the House of Representatives, Congressman John Kline (R-MN) introduced H.R. 3709, legislation to remove Peace Corps references from the National Call to Service military recruitment program. A bi-partisan group of 38 Congressmen/women co-sponsored the legislation.
In the Senate, the leadership of key lawmakers including RPCV Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and John Warner (R-VA) resulted in the House language being incorporated into the Defense Authorization bill which was passed by Congress and signed by the President.
While the Peace Corps community honors many who have served in both the military and the Peace Corps, the success of this effort helped maintain a line of distinction between the two forms of service.
Washington Post Article:
Nobel Peace Prize Nomination Nobel Peace Prize Committee The Norwegian Nobel Institute Drammensveien 19, NO-0255 OSLO
As members of the United States Congress, we wish to nominate the Peace Corps and the National Peace Corps Association for the Year 2002 Nobel Peace Prize.
For 40 years, Peace Corps Volunteers have carried a message of peace, respect and cooperation all over the world. The collective achievement of 163,000 Volunteers serving in 135 countries is phenomenal. Thousands of schools have been built, hundreds of thousands of students have learned essential skills, agricultural production has been enhanced, small businesses have been created, new opportunities for women have emerged, health care programs have been established, and environmental protection has improved - all through the dedication of Peace Corps Volunteers.
The impact of Volunteers on international peace through understanding and cooperation goes far beyond development projects. Volunteers bring people and cultures together. They share ideas and ideals of their home community, but they also learn to speak the language, eat the food, sing the songs, and incorporate the qualities of their host communities into their own lives. They travel overseas to represent the United States, and they return home to represent the world within the United States. The central mission of all Volunteers, both overseas and after they return home, is peace.
The Peace Corps is so successful that at least 20 other countries have developed their own international volunteer programs. Inspired by the Peace Corps Volunteers who served there, Korea has created its own volunteer program to serve other nations. Following the Peace Corps model, other developing countries have created volunteer service programs to meet domestic needs. The Mali Volunteer Corps which, provides teachers and health care in rural villages, is only one example.
The impact of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), represented by the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA), is as great as that of the Volunteers during their overseas service. The Peace Corps prepares its members for a lifetime of public service for peace and understanding - regardless of their professional career. Well-known Peace Corps veterans include UNICEF Director Carol Bellamy and former US Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke. The United States Congress is home to one Senator and six Representatives who served as Peace Corps Volunteers.
RPCVs in the NGO world include Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, Jonathan Lash, president of World Resources Institute, and Thomas Tighe, president of Direct Relief International. US ambassadors, such as Frank Almaguer, Johnnie Carson, David Greenlee, and many others, gained their international perspective through Peace Corps service.
RPCV groups maintain contact with their countries of service, and in several cases they have helped warring nations and factions find a path to peace. "Friends of Liberia" has played a vital role in the challenging peace process in the West African country. Working through the NPCA, dozens of RPCVs from the Great Lakes region of Africa returned to help secure the peace and begin redevelopment in Rwanda following the genocide in that country. The NPCA sponsored a group of RPCVs who devoted themselves to promoting the peace process in the Ethiopia and Eritrea border war. When peace finally arrived, members of the group were invited to Algiers to witness the signing of the treaty. Currently, members of that team and others are engaged in a similar project seeking solutions to the Congo civil war, and they have been invited to help Israeli and Palestinian NGOs more effectively build a foundation for peace in the Middle East.
In addition to these group efforts, individual RPCVs have made an impact on peace all over the world. Julia Demichelis, for example, has been an active peace-maker in the Balkans and in several parts of Africa. Robert Pastor, working with Former President Jimmy Carter, has been a central figure in peace initiatives in Haiti and throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Sargent Shriver, the founding director of the Peace Corps, has been a champion of peace throughout his extraordinary career as an ambassador and as chairman of Special Olympics International.
Returned Volunteers and former Peace Corps staff are among the world's most effective peacemakers. We would be happy to provide details on each of these and many more cases of leadership for peace on the part of the Peace Corps and the National Peace Corps Association.
The collective value of Peace Corps Volunteers and RPCVs for world peace cannot be measured. It is manifest in the lives of millions of people who gained hope and respect for themselves and others because Peace Corps Volunteers demonstrated hope and respect for them. Having been given the tools and skills to help themselves, the communities that have been host to the Peace Corps continue to improve their quality of life long after the Volunteers have gone. The value is unmistakable in the respect Returned Volunteers find among heads of state who respond to their efforts to bring peace to troubled lands.
Former Peace Corps Volunteer teams who work on peace initiatives bring nothing more to the process than goodwill and determination nurtured during overseas service. They have no money, no arms, and no official credentials. Most of them work on the projects as volunteers once again - without compensation. Yet, they are embraced at the highest levels by governments seeking help to end wars.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia sent the following message to the RPCV team that helped bring an end to Ethiopia's war with Eritrea, "I write to you and to your colleagues to express my profound appreciation for your friendship, and for all the concern you have demonstrated during one of the most difficult periods for our country. Most of all I wish to thank you for all the effort you have made to help us achieve peace. I can assure you… your contribution was indeed invaluable for creating the momentum and the spirit which made this historic achievement possible."
The Peace Corps and the community of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, represented by the National Peace Corps Association, create the climate, the conditions, the momentum, and the spirit of peace that is needed all over the world. For this reason, they deserve the Nobel Peace Prize.
As members of the Congress, we urge you to award the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize to the Peace Corps and the National Peace Corps Association.
Thank you very much for considering this request.
Sam Farr, M.C. Tom Petri, M.C. Jim Walsh, M.C. Chris Shays, M.C. Lloyd Doggett, M.C. Barbara Lee, M.C. Betty McCollum, M.C. Bob Filner, M.C. Tom Lantos, M.C. E.B. Johnson, M.C.
Before Facebook, before e-mail, before cds, during a time where Windows NT 3.1&3.5 were the dominating operating systems, there was 3/1/61...the National Peace Corps Association's quarterly network mini magazine for members. The original cover story: Talking about the importance of minority recruitment to represent the true faces of America abroad, with Chuck Baquet who was then the deputy director of Peace Corps. One article posted in 3/1/61 "graph form" was the changing demographic between men and women from the 60s till the 90s. In the early years gender statistics showed that many more men served than women, in the late 80s women surpassed men and have widened the margin ever since.
In response to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, NPCA created the Emergency Response Network (ERN) of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers willing to respond to crises when needed. Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan subsequently modeled the Crisis Corps (later renamed Peace Corps Response) after this successful program.
Worldview magazine Spring 1995 issue: Article Helping Rwanda by David Arnold addresses the genocide that occurred, and the commitment and dedication Return Peace Corps Volunteers had to setup and implement various goals to bring aid to the Rwandan refugees.
A new country agreement was signed with the Government of Rwanda on July 18, 2008. The first new group of thirty-five Public Health trainees arrived in January 2009. They will be assigned to the Ministry of Health and the National AIDS Committee to health centers throughout the country.
Some Volunteers will be assigned to work on HIV/AIDS prevention programs, funded by the President's Emergency Program For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and administered by the National Committee to Fight against AIDS. Other Volunteers will be assigned to the Ministry of Health. In addition to efforts to prevent AIDS, all of the Volunteers will work on issues such as nutrition, malaria prevention, vaccinations and income generation.
Volume 1 Issue 1 The first Worldview magazine began in Summer of 1988, at a time in which NPCA was called the National Council of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. The Goal: "With a bond formed by similar experiences, a heightened interest in the global community, an insight into cross-cultural differences, and sensitivities to the disparities among the developed and developing nations, the National Council of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers offers a voice to educate Americans about 94 countries where Peace Corps volunteers have served." The original cover story: Ethiopia's Famine Fighters: About 30 U.S. organizations raise money to combat Ethiopia's newest famine. Donors want to know which relief agencies are most effective. China Welcomes Peace Corps, one of the many moving articles written in Worldview magazine by Paula Hirschoff speaks of sensitive negotiations between the United States and China that led to 800 of the first volunteers into the Chinese mainland. Original Price: Free for members or $18 dollar annual fee Current Price: Must be a member for NPCA Membership fee is $35 annually
Upon their return from overseas, RPCVs continue to receive recognition. 120,000 RPCVs accepted the Beyond War Award in 1987 in honor of their commitment to nonviolence. Through their participation in volunteer projects or other endeavors, many RPCVs remain active in the Peace Corps community today.
Delivered at the National Conference of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Within this endangered and impoverished world, when even one PCV appears and begins to work humbly, compassionately, effectively for humanistic goals, every one spontaneously realizes that this is a person whose very presence and conduct bespeaks the existence of another America than the one I have just described -- an America without violence, fear, and force...an America of compassion, concern, and yes, of competence!
Mine is an impossible task, To describe the challenge facing the Peace Corps is to describe the most profound problems facing the entire world, and the problems within each one of us which prevent us from fulfilling our potential to overcome those problems. In a mere speech, I am not able to fulfill an assignment of that magnitude.
Forgive me, if, then, I say that you know as well as I that hunger, disease, poverty, fear and anxiety afflict more human beings now than ever in recorded history. You know we live face-to-face with total disaster and death through nuclear war. You know that all of us in the Peace Corps constitute merely a handful of persons seeking perfection in a world population of billions struggling for mere survival.
"Oh! Lord, your sea is so vast and my boat is so small!" the mariner said. We have faced that fact throughout Peace Corps history. Yet thousands of us have been meeting here in Washington to discuss the future with hope and faith. That in itself is a triumph. At these 25th Anniversary Ceremonies we have experienced strengthening of faith and resolve. Yet I still say on this 25th
Anniversary of the Peace Corps, who knows what should be said? Where to begin?. Where to stop? I have concluded that no one knows for sure. Like the beginning of the Peace Corps itself, we can only speak our minds, reveal our hearts, and say our prayers. So, here goes.
First, let's agree that no one in 1961 would have predicted that the Peace Corps would last five years let alone 25. Most of us just hoped-we would get approval from one Congress and survive to the next.
We never had a multi-year authorization, let alone a multi-year appropriation for anything. Every year was do-or-die. And every year more than 25% of the Congress voted against us!
We had famous enemies: -- Otto Passman, H.R. Gross, Homer Capehart, Bourke Hickenlooper, and others. Some famous Democrats as well as Republicans were skeptical: -- Eleanor Roosevelt, Richard Russell, Richard Nixon, Walter Judd, Edith Bolton, Gerry Ford.
We were not accepted like apple-pie and motherhood. Nevertheless, we were nervy, even presumptuous.
Can you believe that we had some 400 Volunteers overseas at work before ongress ever approved of the Peace Corps: That result was accomplished using Presidential Discretionary Funds. We used less than $10,000,000 to hire our entire staff, at home and abroad, select and train the Volunteers, ship them overseas, and arrange all our operations in seven countries! Today no one could do that politically or financially. Those were truly the good old days!
Secondly, everyone at the Peace Corps headquarters was a volunteer...except me. I'm the first and only draftee in Peace Corps history! Kennedy made me do it! But Moyers and Wiggins and Josephson and Mankiewicz and Morris Abrams, Sally Bowles, Nan McEvoy, Pat Kennedy, Lee St. Lawrence, Frank Williams, Harris Wofford, Bill Haddad, and a hundred others, voluntarily showed up and went to work, some without being asked, all without any assurance of permanent positions, many without getting paid. They simply appeared. They responded to the idea. Most of them had never heard of one another. They didn't even know where the Peace Corps was located in Washington. They just asked 'til they found us. Most of them had never worked in any Governmental position anywhere. They simply walked in the door, sat down, and started to do whatever needed to be done. Best of all, for the first few months, we didn't even have an Organizational Chart: Everyone talked with everyone, and gave out their own ideas and opinions. The lights burned all night long.
Then Warren Wiggins protested. He said all our Volunteers from within the Government were going to quit. They were suffering culture shock. They didn't know who was above them or below them, whom to report to, or whom to give orders to: The chaos was un-nerving. So, I said, "Warren, please get us an Organizational Chart and I'll sign it"...That's the way we became the best organized Agency in Washington. We had a perfect chart and perfect free spirits, who despite the chart, continued to think, imagine, support, suggest, criticize and create.
All of our policies, even when written down in lucid, unequivocal English by our gifted General Counsel, even with Shriver's signature affixed thereto, all of our policies were conspicuously labeled as "Interim Policies". They were thus subject to change immediately as we learned from experience how to improve them.
Third, we started the Peace Corps without knowing whether anybody in the world wanted it. That takes some chutzpah. We had no market research department, and no one able to explain what the Peace Corps was all about except ourselves. So we did it ourselves. We traveled to our potential customers (the nations of the less developed world). -We made deals with them for future delivery of volunteers...persons whom none of us had ever seen! Fortunately, we succeeded -- But, let me emphasize, the host nations gambled with us! Their leaders had the courage to trust what we said. Kwame Nkrumah, Pandit Nehru, Julius Nyerere, Ramon Macapagal, Azikiew of Nigeria, Jomo Kenyata, Lleras Camargo of Colombia, and Romulo Bentencourt of Venezuela, all were heros of the first Peace Corps
days. We could never have succeeded without their cooperation. The Peace Corps has always been a two-way street. The USA, then and now, can do little for peace without help from other nations.
Fourth, the name of our organization, "The Peace Corps", was bitterly contested. "Peace Corps" was not the most popular title. The most experienced advisers scoffed at that name. They wanted a solid bureaucratic title -- like "The Agency For Overseas Voluntary Service".
Conservatives opposed the word "Peace"! They maintained it sounded wishy-washy, vague, and weak. The Communists, they said, had corrupted the word "Peace" by applying it to every political initiative, and even to every war they got involved in.
The left-wing disliked the word "Corps"! They said it sounded militaristic. The famous "German Afriker Corps", victorious almost everywhere under General Rommel, was fresh in their minds. "Corps" sounded like a scourge.
Finally, I decided we'd use both words, put them together, and get the best out of both of them: -- Peace because that was truly our business -- and Corps because it showed that we were not individualists, but a group!
Today I recommend that we remember that beginning. We risked everything then in a leap of faith that the peace Corps would succeed -- We risked everything that Volunteers would respond. We were dedicated thus to the pursuit of peace -- which means we oppose the idea that war is inevitable! We believe that with God's help we can get rid of war! We are a Corps, a band of brothers and sisters, united in the conviction that if we work hard enough to eradicate our fears and increase the reach of our love we truly can avoid war -- and achieve peace within ourselves, within our nation, and around the world.
And we all think that everyone in the Peace Corps, and everyone who has ever worked in the Peace Corps, is a special person, who given a chance will overcome any problem! In believing this about each other, in believing this about all Peace Corps people, we are giving reality to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.. He said: --
"Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.
You don't have to have a college degree to serve.
You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.
You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve.
You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve.
You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics to serve.
You only need a heart full of grace and a soul regenerated by love."
Martin Luther King, Jr. was right: -- "Everybody can be great because everybody can serve."
President Cory Aquino in her life and presidency personifies Martin Luther King's insight. She is serving her people, negotiating with her enemies, not killing them, spending her life, her fortune, and her sacred honor for peace. Cory has the true Peace Corps Volunteer spirit! She is seeking peace not with a sword, but with her soul! She is one of us. No wonder we love her!
Now, please answer this question: -- When our U.S. House of Representatives voted on an emergency appropriation to help this woman and her nation, why did that bill pass only with a miserable majority of two votes?
Must we wait until the Communists threaten to take over that friendly country by force before we act decisively and with vision?
Why shouldn't the Congress dramatically offer to recruit 1,000 former Philippine PCV's and send them on an emergency basis to help Cory Aquino and her people?
Congress agreed to send 600 PCV's to Central America. Why not send 1,000 experienced in the Philippines as a "strike force for peace" under Cory Aquino's direction. Or must we wait and then belatedly spend $150,000,000 in ten days as we did in Grenada (more than the Peace Corps' entire annual budget) to remedy temporarily a situation involving only a total population of 100,000 people:
1,000 Peace Corps Volunteers in the Philippines, even 5,000, would be dramatic proof that we intend to defend and strengthen democracy through peaceful, mutual, personal service, not only with money and arms!
Peace cannot be maintained in the less-developed world, nor Communism stopped there or anywhere else by self- centered preoccupation with our own problems and safety, or by reliance primarily on force of arms. We cannot police the world. But we can begin to liberate it from despair and fear and anger by making economic development and mutual service the hard core of our foreign policy, and of our national defense!
A PCV now serving in the Philippines delivered the message accurately when he wrote...
"The Philippine people achieved a moral victory of world significance, led by a widowed housewife, reluctantly turned into a modern day Ghandi. My own faith, he wrote, in Christian morality, in non-violent struggles for peace, in women as leaders at least as capable as men...have all gotten a booster shot from this experience..."
Many have said that Cory Aquino's victory was a miracle...that she herself is a miracle. I say "yes" to both these propositions.
I say further that in the Peace Corps we are celebrating here this weekend the birth, life, and continued existence of another miracle. I mean we are celebrating a happening, a movement, a reality which cannot be fully explained scientifically, mathematically, sociologically, or politically. A miracle transcends logic. Quantitative amassing of facts does not reveal its nature. Miracles, by definition, are inexplicable by normal human reasoning. They transcend ordinary reality. They surprise. They shock. They un-settle
Of course, some people believe that miracles are just fantasies, or isolated aberrations, or hallucinations. They are not real; they are not hard-ware, or even soft-ware. They don't make any real difference because they don't affect action; they have no measureable, quantifiable impact; they produce no results!
But what about the results produced by a man named Moses who allegedly received some tablets of stone from a mysterious, unseen personality named Yaweh atop some mountain in the Middle East? Isn't there a whole nation in the Middle East to which we give several billions of dollars per annum, a nation based on the belief that descendants of this man, Moses, and his legendary predecessor, Abraham, are a special people with a special destiny and a special role in world history? Are they all crazy, these people living and dying on the basis of a whole series of miraculous events shrouded in pre-history and myth?
What about the millions, even billions, of human beings who follow the dictates of another person who never died but zoomed up into outerspace on a horse-drawn chariot 1,400 years ago? Mohammad was his name...and he's more influential now over half the world than Ronald Reagan is even in Orange County.
Isn't it strange, inexplicable, that these mysterious persons with their miraculous histories continue to affect so many human beings today?
Are all those billions of people crazy? And those millions of Christians who believe in miracles...are they also crazy?
Yes, it is true these miracles surpass. normal human experience. But don't we live, and die and dream and hope based on such extraordinary phenomena?
Isn't it fair to say that Jefferson's sentences "We hold these truths to he self-evident -- that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights..." were transcendent phrases at a time when the overwhelming majority of human beings did not believe that "all men are created equal" -- not to mention "all women", or all Blacks!
Yes, you may respond, but his words were not "miraculous". Historians can give us all the historical background and explanations of how those words came from. Jefferson's life and culture and mind.
But no one can say or explain exactly how Jefferson produced those words and that document at that moment! Nor can anyone explain how Shakespeare could produce his sonnets or even a single line "To be or not to be...that is the question". We say those men were geniuses like Einstein. But that description doesn't explain the miraculous quality of their words, or the results produced by their words!
We are dealing with a similar phenomenon in the "Peace Corps"...not a phenomenon of equal importance, let me hasten to say; but, as a little star is still a star, so may it be said that the Peace Corps is a miracle, a little one perhaps, but still a genuine one! For surely it was an intuitive flash of the spirit" which prompted Kennedy to say to himself, "Yes, the idea of a Peace Corps is_right. It fits the times. It strikes the right note. I resonate to the concept. People will respond"...
How did he know that? He didn't really "know" it as one knows the facts of history or the accuracy of an algebraic equation.
He knew it as Picasso knows the line he draws, or Yeats the word or phrase he chooses for a poem..
Kennedy "knew" the Peace Corps idea was right and timely, and evocative just as he "knew" that "Ich bin ein Berliner" was right and timely and evocative and unifying and inspirational...just as he "knew" that "We shall put a man on the moon in this decade" would lift men's souls and minds and hearts!
To believe in men and women, to believe they can surpass themselves, to believe that ordinary people can become extra-ordinary, to believe in young men and women, and know they can accomplish miracles -- these were part of Kennedy's character and vision. Fully aware of human weaknesses, yet confident in human capacities, never judgemental, rarely condemnatory, always hopeful, Kennedy had the nerve and personal self-confidence to ask for the best from the American people; and he got it!!
The miracle also is that the people still respond to his vision though Kennedy is long dead. The miracle is that decades of war, Presidential prevarication and disgrace, budget cutting, and the cynicism of power politics, still have not killed the dream nor staunched the flow of those willing to volunteer and serve. We must look further than to politics or economics or national security
or finance, further even than to the vision of one great man, to discover why the Peace Corps still lives.
Let's ask, "Why, really, are "we" here? Why have "we," been honored by the presence and words of that star out: of the East, Cory Aquino?"
She did not equally acclaim other American enterprises.
Why do Presidents from distant lands and island empires still ask our President for Peace Corps Volunteers?
Why can Peace Corps Volunteers live everywhere today, unprotected, unarmed, defense-less, free and open, and yet never be assaulted or terrorized?
Why did Nehru of India, and Nkrumah of Ghana, and Nyerere of Tanzania, Sukarno of Indonesia, Leopold Senghor of Senegal, the King of Thailand, the King of Tonga - socialists, capitalists, kings, and commoners, rich and poor, welcome the Peace Corps?
Why are PCV's still "The Wanted Americans", not "The Ugly Americans"?
It is not because of me, nor was it ever because of me. I had the challenge and the joy of meeting and convincing all the powers and potentates. I had the marvelous opportunity of working with all the creative people who put the Peace Corps together. I welcomed the first Volunteers and visited them abroad. I challenged and cajoled the Congressmen and the Senators. But as I said, I was only a draftee! Kennedy called me and made me run the Peace Corps. Yes, he left me alone. He gave me no orders or advice. But, still, my friends, I was only a draftee. You were and are the Volunteers. You made the Peace Corps a success. I applaud you. respect you. I cherish you, and yes, I love you!
Yet the very difference between a draftee and a volunteer, that very fact, enables me today to see clearly, to discern and describe, why you, the Volunteers, and the Peace Corps itself, is such an extraordinary reality. A blind man appreciates sight more deeply than those with eyes.
What do I see?
I see two worlds: -- the Peace Corps world, and our world here at home. I see that most of us Americans have lived most of our lives in "the world" here in the USA. Unlike the Peace Corps world overseas, our USA world, is dominated by the lust for power: -- economic, political, cultural, bodily, and scientific power! Because of our preponderant strength in all these areas, we enjoy a peace of sorts. Like the Roman Empire we enjoy an Imperium within which a Pax Americana exists.
We have avoided direct open warfare with our principal competitor for world dominion.
We have survived so far the threat of nuclear holocaust.
We have been spared famine, slavery, and pestilence in our own land.
But international terrorism aimed at us and our friends is spreading. International distribution of narcotics aimed at us is spreading. International poverty and even destitution is increasing. Its victims increasingly threaten our oasis of plenty.
Our expenditures for war mount almost out of anyone's control. Tension mounts...in our world.
The Peace Corps world is different: -- Much of it is poor, threatened, hopeless.
Within this endangered and impoverished world, when even one PCV appears and begins to work humbly, compassionately, effectively for humanistic goals, every one spontaneously realizes that this is a person whose very presence and conduct bespeaks the existence of another America than the one I have just described -- an America without violence, fear, and force'...an America of compassion, concern, and yes, of competence!
PCV's know what they are doing with their hands as well as with their hearts. Their courage, their generosity, their spirit tells the world what American democracy, rather than American power, is all about. PCV's are the representatives, the true followers of Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, Franklin, and all the other intellectual and moral leaders who created the U.S.A.. PCV's represent the promise, not the power, of America.
The leaders of early America were lionized throughout the world not for their strength in military or economic matters but for their moral vision of a society ruled by reason and faith...a just society for all men and women, not just for Americans. "A decent respect for the opinion of all mankind" caused them to address their Declaration of Independence to the entire world!
They were like the Jewish people, who though extremely small in numbers and weak in economic and military terms, always spoke to all mankind! It's no accident that "shalom" the Hebrew word for peace means "complete" or "round" -- all inclusive -- applicable everywhere and to everyone around the world. Similarly, the Russian word for peace, "mir", is also their word for the "world" -- for the round, the complete.
The word "Peace" for PCV's represents the same conviction, -- namely, that peace must encompass the whole of the world, and it must encompass the whole of our lives, our bodies, minds, and souls! PCV's understand that the only way to overcome an enemy is to help him become other than enemy...to help him get rid of his fear and anxiety to bring him into a world of non-violence. Forgiveness and understanding of his problem is the only way to bring cure and solace to his mind and heart...to disarm him by freeing him from his anxiety.
Mahatma Ghandi understood that fact. He believed that all life is one...that we are all in a sacred, cosmic family in which each member must help to elevate the whole from a selfish and destructive level to a productive and spiritual one through sacrificial participation in the common needs and struggles of all! He said that if love be not the law of our being then the whole of his philosophy and life falls to pieces.
Yet his love for his enemies and for the poor won independence for India. Cory Aquino's love may yet achieve shalom for the Philippines:
Yes, money will be required. Yes, a stable military under civilian control will be required. But without her sense of selfless service she would fail.
Once again, she's like the Peace Corps.
The Peace Corps seeks peace through service, not through economic strength or military power. Service is the heart and soul and substance of the Peace Corps. Service is a discredited word these days. Who wants to be a servant? No one! Service implies servitude, failure to achieve even equality, let alone dominion. Yet the Peace Corps exists to serve, to help, to care, for our fellow human beings. It works its magic from below, not from above. It concentrates on basics - food, health, education, community development. Peace Corps Volunteers are rarely in capital cities, rarely seen with gilded potentates. They are almost un-American in their willingness to serve in the boondocks.
Peace Corps Volunteers come home realizing that there are billions of human beings not enraptured by our pretensions, or practices,or morals...billions of human beings with whom we must live in peace. PCV's learn that there's more to life than money, more to life than the latest styles in clothes, cars, or cosmetics.
Suddenly I realize I do have a response to the original title given me for my speech. They asked me to talk about "the challenge of the Peace Corps". The challenge is simple to express, difficult to fulfill: --
PCV's stay as you are... Be servants of peace...work at home as you have worked abroad, humbly, persistently, intelligently. Weep with those who are sorrowful, rejoice with those who are joyful. Teach those who are ignorant. Care for those who are sick. Serve your wives...serve your husbands,..serve your families...serve your neighbors...serve your cities...serve the poor. Join others who serve.
Serve, Serve, Serve! That's the challenge.
Dear Friends: -- Let us all rejoice! Today we are gathered to commemorate a unique occasion in American history....that occasion when for the first time an American President proposed to put the full strength of our Government behind a voluntary movement of free men and women dedicated to the pursuit of peace. Many nations in human history have undertaken many tasks; many have boasted about their economic power and military victories. But none has ever put its prestige and money into so sustained an effort to seek peace through education, work, and service to others, performed by its own citizens volunteering for that service. The success of the Peace Corps is proof that moral vision coupled with perseverance and courage can overcome great obstacles. The road to success has not always been easy. The initial success of the Peace Corps in tapping the idealism of Americans -- and sharing it with others -- was overshadowed by the twin disasters of Viet-Nam and Watergate. Lying and vast deceptions, practiced upon our own people by persons occupying the highest positions of trust and political power, did almost crush the Peace Corps's early promise. But let us rejoice again! The Peace Corps has emerged from the desolate years of 1967 to 1976. It has escaped from the bureaucratic obscurity where it was buried under Richard Nixon. Now the Peace Corps has a new mandate (passed by Congress and signed into law by President Reagan) to increase its Volunteers to a minimum of 10,000. Partisan political considerations have been outlawed as factors to be weighed in the appointment of Peace Corps officials. And the current Peace Corps leadership, notably in the person of Loret Ruppe, is imaginative, dedicated, resourceful, and wise. The present state of the Peace Corps is good. Its chances for future growth and progress are better than they have been for many years. There are certain other extraordinary realities in Peace Corps history worthy of special note today. The Peace Corps's administrative, financial, and personnel record, over 25 years, may well be the most remarkable of any Government agency in this generation. No one has ever defected from the Peace Corps! Nor has any member of the Peace Corps ever been accused of, or prosecuted for, treason. Other agencies and departments of Government -- even those which pride themselves on their patriotism, hard-headed machismo, and security procedures, cannot match the Peace Corps's record. No one has ever been accused of fraud or mismanagement of funds in Peace Corps history. -3-- No one has ever been reassigned, or "fired" from leadership positions in the Peace Corps, because of deceit, lack of loyalty, personal corruption, malfeasance or non-feasance. On the positive side, hundreds of Peace Corps officials and Volunteers have gone onward and upward to some of the highest positions of trust and responsibility in this country. And the Peace Corps has become the largest, single source of personnel for the United States Foreign Service, for AID, for Catholic Relief Services, for "CARE", and for dozens of other voluntary agencies, at home and overseas. So, let me repeat once again: -- We are lucky to have been members of the Peace Corps. We are all lucky to be here....the very place where John F. Kennedy first spoke the words that led to the creation of the Peace Corps. We are all lucky, to be alive and healthy, educated and free. We are lucky to have opportunities undreamed of by nearly all the men and women who fought for and created this nation. We are lucky to have health, wealth, education and power. And even though such gifts have often corrupted nations, even empires, we do not have to follow their example. Why? Because we know better. We know from history what has happened to greedy and self-indulgent nations. We cannot plead ignorance. If we do no more than follow the siren song of selfishness we would deserve to end up in the dustbin of -4- history -- just another fatuous and foolish group like those who lived in Sodom • & Gomorrah or in Nineveh and Tyre. So we must not become fat, rich, smug and self-centered. Fortunately, we have the words and example of John F. Kennedy calling us in a different direction, appealing to us with a different vision. Listen to what he said on this campus in October 1960: -- ...."How many of you, who are going to be medical doctors, are willing to spend your days in Ghana /flow many of you who are going to be/ technicians or engineeers are willing to do so? "How many of you are willing to work in the Foreign Service and spend your lives travelling around the world? "On your willingness to do that, not merely to spend one or two years in the service, but on your willingness to spend part of your life in the service of this country will depend the answer on whether a free society can survive".... Kennedy called upon us to give our lives to service, and the Peace Corps became the instrument of his policy. ...."Unless you comprehend the nature of what is being asked of, you", he said, "Unless you understand the nature of what is being asked of you" (I repeat it), Kennedy said, "we cannot succeed"! The Peace Corps was our answer to his words and his challenge spoken here on this campus in 1960. The Peace Corps' nature was specifically designed to answer Kennedy's challenge. Its nature was peaceful. Its nature was to call upon all Americans to serve ... overseas for at least two years, and to serve at home for the rest of their lives. Service at home, according to the Peace Corps Act, involved teaching and telling our fellow Americans about the realities of the Third World with its poverty, disease, and lack of education, but also to tell us about its hopes for the future, its ambitions, its plea for help and understanding from us. All of this is what lies behind. But what of the prospects for the Peace Corps beyond this day of celebration? It's easy and customary on an anniversary like this to reminisce, exchange old stories, and recall past triumphs. But what about the next fifteen years? Where will the Peace Corps be in the year 2000? The time has come, I believe, for the Peace Corps to expand....overseas, and at home. the Peace Corps abroad should grow as Congress has authorized it to grow. Ten thousand Peace Corps Volunteers abroad could be achieved by 1988; but to reach that goal, the Peace Corps budget will have to be doubled and then increased again. I use this occasion to call upon the leadership of both parties to accept that challenge and act now. -6- Double the Peace Corps when everything in Government except the military is being cut? I•n't that a ludicrous proposal? I say "No". The cause of peace, seeking peace, is more important than any other challenge facing our country, including the military challenge. We have showered money on the Pentagon to strengthen our capacity to wage war. We have expotentially increased our power to kill. We must now increase our capacities -- moral, intellectual, and political -- to wage peace. First, therefore, we should increase the size of the Peace Corps overseas. Congress has authorized the expansion! The American people support the Peace Corps. Let us move forward aggressively. Let us fulfill the potential of this unique experiment in peace. Only the faint-hearted would say "No". Second. We should mobilize the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers here at home. Consider these facts: -- We now have more than 100,000 former PCVs here in America. That is ten times the number of Volunteers we've ever had in any one country abroad. The PCVs worked miracles away from home. They can transform attitudes and outlooks here, too. The Peace Corps' original, authorizing legislation, still unchanged states that the Peace Corps and its Volunteers -7- have three objectives mandated by law. First, to supply the need overseas for trained manpower. Second, to learn more about the people, the culture, and history of foreign peoples and to teach them about the American people and our institutions. Third, to return home and educate, teach, enlighten Americans about the political, historical, cultural needs and hopes of foreign peoples and nations. The Peace Corps, has done as much as it humanly could, with the resources it has had, to realize the first two objectives or purposes set forth by the Congress. But it has done precious little, almost nothing, to help or encourage returned PCVs to fulfill the third purpose of the Peace Corps legislation. The time has come to put the Peace Corps behind the pursuit of peace within the U.S.A. as well as to expand its efforts outside our own borders. How can this be done? Well, obviously, no one will have all the right ideas on how to carry out so challenging a mission. But there's no time to start which will be better than the present. Twenty five years of success abroad gives reason to believe that the next twenty-five years can produce results at home as well. Overseas, the Peace Corps has learned that it's impossible to force change! Education, example, encouragement all can help to get results. But force produces nothing but counterforce. So, the first concept we have to get rid of is the -8- idea that we can achieve "Peace Through Strength". That's a popular slogan, but it's wrong. The reverse is often true. At times, strength is best achieved through peace. Peaceful example, peaceful guidance, peaceful education, and peaceful encouragement produce results. To achieve progress it is necessary first to open hearts and minds, an objective which is not achieved by hitting, or threatening to hammer,people into submission -- which seems to be the guiding principle of the government of South Africa. So let us choose a new slogan, symbolizing a new direction -- "Strength Through Peace." Second, we should utilize colleges and universities to inspire, motivate, and update our Returned P.C.V.s for peaceful service in our own land. Twenty-five years ago we called on colleges and universities to train Volunteers for service abroad. Rutgers, Michigan, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Georgetown, Howard and Harvard are just a few of the institutions where Peace Corps training began. Now we should use them to begin a new tradition of service at home. Before 1970 only one school, Manchester College in Indiana, offered a program in Peace Studies in the whole of America! Today 35 colleges and universities offer degrees in Peace Studies, and many more offer courses if not degree programs. -9- This is an extraordinary and providential development. Just when training and education for peace is essential for survival, our institutions of higher education are ready. What do they teach? They teach Mahtma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Francis of Assisi, Albert Einstein, Tolstoi, Thoreau, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Desmond Tutu, Jane Addams, Albert Schweitzer.... They teach conflict resolution; arbitration; mediation; nonviolent change; research on aggression; arms control; and international conflict resolution. They conduct conflict management workshops for corporations like Bristol-Myers, for University personnel, for labor unions, for lawyers, and for medical doctors. I talked with five University Presidents last week and every one of them said that his or her institution is ready to inaugurate special, intensive training programs in Peacemaking next summer for returned P.C.V.'s. Several foundations also expressed interest. We should explore in depth their offers to help. /At this point Shriver introduced an extemporaneous discussion of the legal program called "EnDispute" which was started by a former Peace Corps Volunteer, Jonathan Marks. He emphasized how "EnDispute" achieves conflict resolution without recourse to the_traditional legal system with its long delays and high costs. -10- Next, we should support the proposals of the Coalition of Peace Corps organizations. They recommend a National Peace Corps Conference for next June; they recommend a Peace Corps Foundation to finance special projects overseas and at home; they recommend a new magazine -- a "Third World Magzine" -- devoted to the Peace Corps and similar activities overseas; they suggest Annual Awards for Distinguished Service by PCVs and staff members to the cause of peace. Shriver extemporaneously added at this point a brief description of the work of the Ashoka Foundation, which, using private contributions from United States citizens, attempts to discover and finance small-scale business overseas, especially in Africa and Asia. He cited the Ashoka Foundation as exemplary of the kind of special project overseas which the Peace Corps Foundation might assist Beyond this, we should support the idea of a universal opportunity for national service for all young people in our country. I do not mean, solely or primarily, military service. The military couldn't use all our young people anyhow. I recommend, as I have many times before, that we call upon all young persons, and that we pay them a minimum sum, to serve their fellow citizens here at home. This service should be as normal as graduation from high school. It should be an accepted part of growing up in America ... a common expectation of what's expected from everyone. This is no longer a new idea. It has been studied in depth and approved by thousands of experts. Let us now move forward with it. The VISTA Volunteer program works; the National Center for Volunteer Action succeeds under George Romney's leadership; and the private sector needs volunteer help as never before. A spirit is moving in this land -- and it's not just "Cap" Weinberger's spirit. He and "Star Wars" may be dominating the headlines, but there also exists a large and growing number of Americans who, like Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, know more about people and the world than was ever dreamed of in Mr. Weinberger's belicose philosophy. The daily newspapers and TV are full of stories of violence: -- In Our . Homes: husbands and wives in unmanageable conflict; children being battered and sexually abused; adolescent runaways; elderly persons being starved. Violence On the Streets: Murder, rape, assaults and battery, robbery....Never has the average citizen felt lesssecure, physically, than today. Violence Against Our Own Bodies: Jane Fonda and Arnold Schwarzenegger may be leading the movement for health and physical fitness. But, excellent though their efforts are, even they cannot compete successfully against drugs, alcohol, and murder on the highways. -12- Violence Abroad: At least three trans-national wars are going on now as I talk about peace. And no one can say that within the USA we have succeeded in our struggles against drugs, against alcoholism, against racism, against militarism. Instead of "Love your enemies" as Jesus of Nazareth taught, we are indoctrinated into "fear of our enemies." Franklin Roosevelt said "We have nothing to fear but fear itself". He was talking about problems here at home. But his words could apply equally to our "enemies" abroad. We shall overcome Communism not with bombs but with the power of the spirit, the spirit which energized Americans at the beginning of this nation. Then we talked, preached and acted upon "The Universal Brotherhood Of Mankind". We had practically no military power, but we appealed to the God-given rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We were popular then. Now we preach megatonnage and Star Wars, economic warfare, and boycotts. And every year we acquire more enemies. /At this point, Shriver extemporaneously discussed the U.S. action in withdrawing from the jurisdiction of the World Court which was the page 1 story in the New York Times and the Washington Post? Well, well, you say: -- "Shriver has wandered far afield from the subject of the Peace Corps." But have I really done so? -13-- When we started the Peace Corps, there was a big debate about the name we should give to this new venture. Many suggestions were made. "Peace Corps" was not the most popular title. Among the most experienced advisers, that title was scoffed at. They wanted a solid bureaucratic title -- like The Agency for Overseas Voluntary Service./Taughtei/ Conservatives opposed the word "Peace"./laughter/ They maintained it sounded soft, wishy-washy, vague and weak. The Communists, they said, had corrupted the word "Peace" by applying it to every political initiative and even to every war they got involved in. Ours was also the generation of World War II and the Korean War. In our lifetimes we had never lost a war, never failed to overcome an economic depression, and never experienced Nixon, Kissinger, Viet-Nam and Watergate. "Peace" was a questionable word for many of us. The left-wing disliked the word Corps"./laughter/ They said it sounded too militaristic. The famous "German Afriker Corps", victorious almost everywhere under General Rommel, was fresh in their mind. "Corps" sounded like a scourge. Finally, I decided we'd use both words, great laughter put them together, and get the best out of both of them: -- Peace because that was truly our business -- and Corps because it showed that we were not individualists but a group. -14- Today I recommend that we remember our beginning. We are dedicated to the pursuit of peace -- which means we oppose the idea that war is inevitable. We believe that with God's help we can get rid of war. We are a corps, a band of brothers and sisters, united in the conviction that if we work hard enough we truly can avoid war -- and achieve peace. And we all think that everyone in the Peace Corps, and everyone who has ever worked in the Peace Corps, is a special person, who, given a chance will overcome any problem! In believing this about each other, in believing this about all Pece Corps people, we are giving reality to the words of Martin Luther King. He said: -- "Everybody can be 'great' because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics and physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace and soul regenerated by love." So in 1985 we look back across a quarter of a century of grace and soul -- and we know how fortunate we are. In the Peace Corps, we have known the summer heat of the Sahara, the biting cold of the Alte Plano, the endless rain of the Monsoons in Asia, and the even greater obstacles caused by bureaucratic inertia. -15- And what a precious gift it has all been! For we have also seen the smile on the face of a child who has just learned to read; the energy of people in a dusty village who have just learned that they can lift the dead hand of hopelessness; the wondrous sense of powerless people taking destiny into their own hands for the first time. We have been pioneers of the Peace Corps world -- and in that new world, we have seen the worst that happens to fellow human beings in daily acts of indifference and even evil; but we also have seen what is, what can be, the best in ourselves and in others. We have seen into our own souls, even as we have felt our eyes misting and our hearts touched when it was time to say good-bye. But, for Veterans of the Peace Corps enlisted in the cause of peace, whatever we do when the first tour is over, there is never a final "good-bye". We are Peace Corps Volunteers forever, and we will never be the same again. In that spirit, let us resolve to continue and complete our real tours of duty -- which are not for two years -- but for all the years of our lives -- until the peace we dreamed of when we signed up for the Corps, is finally won. X.X.X.
Delivered at Howard University by R. Sargent Shriver, First Director of the Peace Corps
It's a joy for me to be here this day with you. Thanks to all of you for coming to this splendid 20th Anniversary celebration; thanks for your service as Peace Corps Volunteers and staff members; thanks to our distinguished visitors whose presence has dignified this occasion; thanks to the Congress and Executive Branch members who have kept the Peace Corps alive and prospering; but thanks most of all to every Senator and Congressperson who just this week voted for the independence and freedom of the Peace Corps! From now on a new Independence Day will be celebrated every June 16th in Peace Corps precincts around the world!
Congratulations! Loret Ruppe! It took the presence of a woman, a Republican woman at that, to free the Peace Corps from bureaucratic entanglements. May you prosper in your independence! May you enlist 10,000 Volunteers a year before you complete your Peace Corps service!
The Peace Corps gave me the most memorable, continuing, morally unblemished and uncompromised chance ever given any American to serve his country, his countrymen, and his fellow human beings world-wide, simultaneously, and at the grassroot level with the poor everywhere.
Never in war, and I have served in war; never in peace and I have served many places in peace, has anyone ever received, from a secular state, a greater opportunity for pure service. And so I thank President Kennedy and the Congress, the Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, the other members of the Executive Branch in 1960, and all the taxpayers of America, for giving me an incomparable five years as first Director of the Peace Corps.
Yes, I was lucky.
Never in this century has any new governmental agency attracted more talent to its ranks. Bill Moyers, Warren Wiggins, Bill Josephson, Morris Abram, Glenn Ferguson, Frank Williams, Bill Saltonstall, Sally Bowles, Harris Wofford, Dick Goodwin, Nan McEvoy, Walter Carrington, Sam Proctor, Larry Fuchs, Nick Hobbs, Joe Colman, Bill Haddad, Charlie Peters, Jack Vaughn, Frank Mankiewicz, Dick Graham, Lew Butler, George Carter, Bob Hellawell, Charley Houston, Nancy Gore, Leveo Sanchez, Bill Kelly, Dorothy Jacobson, Chris Sheldon, Gordon Boyce, Lee Gehrig, Tony Essaye, Mary Ann Orlando, Jay Rockefeller, Willie Warner, C. Payne Lucas, Ross Pritchard, ...
Maybe these names mean nothing to you. But among them, -- (all 35 years old or less at the beginning of the Peace Corps,) -- there came to be five college presidents; five U.S. Ambassadors; five big-time lawyers; sixteen destined to receive Presidential appointments; innumerable doctors, lawyers, editors, judges, businessmen, philanthropists, and
educators. Even a Pulitzer Prize winner graced the original group. And these were just some members of the staff! From among the Volunteers there arose the Senators, Congressmen, Directors of overseas programs both public and private, foreign service officers, bankers, Congressional staff members, state government officials, city mayors and on and on. The Peace Corps proved to be the best talent agency for public servants in this century of American history.
What a privilege to be part of that band!
We started before the Beatles sang a song, and have seen them pass. We have witnessed the rise of the Rolling Stones; yet the Peace Corps will probably be alive and a respected aristocracy of service even after the Stones have passed their way, too.
Six U.S. Presidents have held office during these Peace Corps years. May 6 times 6 Presidents rejoice in its performance in the years to come!
Despite these happy signs, can there be optimism now for the future of the Peace Corps?
The Peace Corps budget is only 3/100,000ths of the Defense Department's. Its numbers are only 3/1000ths of the Armed Forces. 1,000 men and women are enrolled to serve our needs in war for every 3 -- repeat 3 -- in the Peace Corps. Talk about David and Goliath! By any quantitative measure known to the Rand Corporation, the American Enterprise Institute, or O.M.B., the Peace Corps is almost inconsequential, irrelevant perhaps, a cipher in the great game of world politics, and power.
Then, why are we here -- two thousand of us attending this Anniversary celebration?
Are we grown men and women but still talking about juvenile things? Are we just on a nostalgia kick? Are we puerile romantics, idealists, flower children, merely tolerated by mature, realistic, worldly-wise leaders?. Are we just accepted because all human societies have their soft-header dreamers, their physically crippled and mentally retarded, their psychologically immature? Isn't the draft and military service the best way to deal with Peace Corps Volunteer types, past, present and future? Wouldn't the draft teach Peace Corps people to shape up, learn about the real world, guarantee their passage from illusion to realism? Can we as a nation, in difficult economic times,
spend taxpayers' dollars on such a whimsical, peripheral activity as a corps dedicated to peace?
Many experts today say "No". They say we should not dissipate our national resources and strength. Government was not established, they say, to create, finance, or direct such activities. The "private sector" is the proper place for idealistic experiments.. The Peace Corps has little or nothing to do, they say, with our Constitutional purposes to create a more perfect union, establish justice, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity. The Peace Corps, it is alleged, does not contribute to the defense of the United States. It does not protect the people from dangers
abroad or at home. It's a misplaced, vestigial, remainder from a messianic culture of the past ... Good perhaps for Mormons, Mennonites, Quakers, left-wing Catholics, Pacifists, Evangelicals, -- but only a sideshow in an era controlled by the hard sciences, technology, finance, economics, and military matters. The threat is from without, not from within; from the USSR, not from ourselves. We're all right; they're all wrong; and we will prove it by our strength ... The Peace Corps has little or no role in dealing with the real threat to America.
Thoughts like these may predominate in many places today; but the Peace Corps is always full of surprises, and happiness, and truth. I experienced that joy and that truth all over again yesterday.
Remember when Loret Ruppe introduced Beulah Bartlett and Blythe Monroe, two of our first PCV's to Ethiopia. Those two women were 68 and 66 when they volunteered for the Peace Corps, and yesterday they both received tumultuous applause for their work and their spirit. They inspired us all, -- just by their presence on the platform.
After they left the stage, standing right in front of Loret Ruppe and me, Beulah looked up at me and said -- "You saved my life..."
Loret Ruppe heard her, and said to me: --
"What a lovely thing for her to. say -- 'You saved my life.""
Loret was right! It was beautiful ... but., of course, it wasn't true!
I never saved Beulah's life. Beulah saved her. own life by giving it away. She offered it to service. Her gift of herself to the poor and uneducated in' Ethiopia gave her a new lease on a new life ... a life of service and peace.
That's what we all have learned in the Peace Corps. That's why we call it the Peace Corps -- not because we can, single-handedly, create peace, but because we are at peace.
The Peace Corps is thousands of human beings at peace, -- with themselves, with their fellow man, with the world ... why? because they have saved their own lives. How? By giving themselves away!!
We never own anything till we give it away.
"Having nothing and yet possessing all things" -- that's the way Saint Paul put it.
That's the heart of peace; that's the heart of the Peace Corps.
When will we learn that truth, here in our beloved U.S.A., the land of conspicuous consumption and wealth?
We must learn it ... without tragedy or suffering to teach it to us, if possible, because it has the power to save our lives -- just as it saved Beulah's..
I used the word power just then. I used it on purpose -- I used it to emphasize the power of peace. It is peace that gives strength. It is peace that provides "the, force" -- an unconquerable, unsurpassable force ... not arms, not bombs, not fear or threat of destruction. Those things just arouse resistance and resentment. They produce the opposite of what they intend.
The alleged "power of arms" is a sham. The man with the pistol in his hand blazing away is the pitiful, fearful weakling afraid of another person, killing and marauding like a frustrated child because he's angry and hurt and alone and desperate, looking for love and finding only hatred and opposition. No ... I never saved Beulah's life or Blythe's life. They saved themselves ... because • they learned to give themselves away ... as the Declaration of Independence says in its last and most important words: -- "We pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor" ... Risking their lives, giving their fortunes, and themselves; the original American Revolutionaries found peace.
That's why I am less confused and more knowledgeable and realistic about peace than in 1960 , when we began the Peace Corps. In the 1960's we thought it would be easy. We thought Congress would always increase our size and our budget, if we produced results.
We thought we could defeat poverty, enlighten the ignorant, eradicate disease, win over our enemies, given enough time, given enough volunteers. Now I know different, not better, but deeper. I know we still need money and volunteers. I know the U.S.A. and the world needs the Peace Corps. But now I think we can achieve peace without eradicating poverty or
ignorance, or disease. The "power of peace" does not lie in the vain hope that we can change the human condition everywhere and for everyone. Our American faith in a technological "fix" for every problem is naive and irrelevant. Millions of people don't want our technology, our culture, our values. They've heard promises about a materialistic heaven on earth from
Communists and Capitalists. Great improvements in the materialistic conditions of life are promised by both. But neither system has ever produced anything but an imposed peace -- which is peace only for the mighty, and not even pure peace for them. Look how rich men and Politburo members employ guards and guard dogs, TV monitors and elaborate alarm systems, to protect themselves •and their possessions and positions. The leader of the free world, ironically, needs more protection than anyone, except the leader of the Communist world.
Those men are not creating or enjoying peace; they are creating and enjoying power. Augustus Caesar -- the greatest of Roman Emperors -- built a Temple of Peace -- but only after he had gained absolute power. He encouraged people to worship him, the state he had created, the armies which sustained them. Deus, Imperator, Rex -- God, Emperor, Leader. Augustus had it all! But was it peace?
Jesus Christ said "no". And the Christians had to go underground, -- because they worshipped a different God. They threatened the stability of "the kingdom" of Augustus by declaring that another kingdom exists ... a kingdom where peace comes from below, from the ground up, not from the top down, from inside the hearts of human beings, not from the
barrel of a gun no matter who's holding it.
That's the peace which the Peace Corps seeks. The power of our peaceful efforts lies within ourselves and can be given to others. But first we must possess
Many Peace Corps Volunteers have possessed this kind of peace. They were at peace with themselves and with their work. That's why the Peace Corps nurses in the Dominican Republic were asked to stay when the Revolutionary slogans all said "Yankees Go Home". That's why no Peace Corps Volunteers were attacked or injured in the Panamanian uprisings against the U.S.A. in 1964 or during the current violence in El Salvador. That's why "terrorists" have not assaulted Peace Corps Volunteers even in remote locations in the underdeveloped world.
Certainly there have been accidents. Surely there will be deaths. PCV's could get killed just as the nuns were killed in El Salvador, just as priests, missionaries and others sometimes get killed – overseas or here at home.
But the peace of the best Peace Corps Volunteers is not something which can be taken from them, even by death. It's a peace they can give endlessly because giving it away does not diminish the supply.
What is it, again?
Expressed differently, it's the quality of caring -- caring for others, willingness, even eagerness to teach the ignorant or bathe the dirty, nurse the leper or serve as a farmer, lawyer, doctor, technician, nurses' aid, in places where thousands, even millions need what you have, in skills, yes, but most of all in human warmth.
Mother Theresa and her followers rarely get killed. They have few PhD's or MD's, LLB's.or CPA's; yet they go everywhere and bring peace with them! The best of them "exude" peace. It surrounds them like an aura, like a perfume.
The world today is faced with the greatest threat to. peace in world history. The threat of nuclear war and human devastation. Nuclear war would produce peace -- an imposed, maybe a permanent peace. War and death on an unprecedented scale.
Against that danger we can array only the forces of peace --. the legions of those who care first for people, and only later, much later, about power..
On national TV, just this week, Dan Rather concluded the CBS documentary on "The Defense of the United States" with these words: --
"We end this series as we began it, in the heartland of America. ... in a world which can destroy itself in less time than Lincoln took to deliver the Gettysburg Address. We have entered an age of conventional wisdom about very unconventional weapons of war. And we're heading toward the largest military buildup in this nation's history, with few questions asked. All of us, as Americans, want our defenses to be strong and secure. We face a dangerous decade and a resolute enemy. But will we make ourselves stronger by unquestioning faith in new weapons technology? Will our European alliance be strengthened by a strategy that might force us to destroy Europe in order to save it? Will we increase our national security by insisting there is a way to fight a limited nuclear war without mutual destruction? We hope these broadcasts have helped stimulate this debate, for on it, may rest our survival. For CBS Reports, Dan Rather."
For the Peace Corps -- Sargent Shriver says we should join the debate Dan Rather has proposed! Not just the debate about the military defense of the United States, but the larger debate about the purposes of the United States, the destiny of our people, and the future, if any, of man and woman kind on this planet.
If any Americans should get involved in such a debate, the returned Peace Corps Volunteers are prime candidates. No group of Americans surpasses Peace Corps Volunteers in knowledge of the world, its peoples, and its problems. The USA and the USSR seem to contest with each other more in the Third World than anywhere else on the planet. Peace Corps Volunteers and Staff know the facts of life and death in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and other, Third World, hot spots, intimately and deeply.
So I say, to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, former staff members and dependents --
Get into the debate! Dan Rather is right! Your survival, and our country's, may rest on the outcome.
Fortunately this debate about defense, about war and peace, is easy to enter. First of all there's politics. The President of Yale University speaking at graduation last month said ...
...."What concerns me most today is the way... we have created thoughtful citizens who disdain politics and politicians when more than ever we need to value politics and what politicians do; when more than ever we need to recognize that the calling to public life is one of the highest callings a society can make..."
... "Government is not the enemy ... and if we continue to elect those who denigrate what they pursue, who insist they are outsiders as they claw their way to the inside, we ought to ask whether it's in our common interest to buy any more of that snake oil..."
So politics and political office can be one way to enter the debate about defense.
There are many others. The American Friends Service Committee manages a national program advocating a weapons freeze by the USSR and ourselves. Peter Rodino, Toby Moffett, Dick Ottinger, Shirley Chisholm, Charley Rangel, and dozens of educators and scientists support this effort! Other groups, scientific and medical organizations, labor unions, church groups, neighborhood associations, Amnesty International, scores of organizations are already in this debate and need help. They want you! You can help them. The time is now. There is no issue of greater importance for those dedicated to peace.
Beyond the debate about military defense of the United States, you are needed in the larger debate about the purposes of the United States, the destiny of our people, and the future, if any, of humanity on this planet.
We enjoy great advantages in our country. The United States is already united politically. We are one union. Jefferson, Madison, Washington, Adams, Lincoln did that job for us. Economically we also are united. While Europe still struggles to create a European Economic Community, we enjoy the advantages of the world's first, continent-wide, free trade zone. Militarily, we wear one uniform: we salute one flag. We recite one pledge of allegiance. We accept one currency, the American dollar. We inhabit one continent. More and more, we speak one language. But are we united racially? Are we united in our family life? Are we united in accepting responsibility for our brothers and sisters who are unemployed, victimized by drugs, homeless, wracked by alcoholism, fearful of old age, lonely?
Incredibly, missionaries are coming to the United States from India, from Ireland, from Africa -- to work and live with our poor in our South Bronx, in our Los Angeles, in our Detroit, in our Gary, Indiana, in our South, in our schools, and in our hospitals. Even in our capitol city of Washington, Mother Theresa of Calcutta is opening her. work, establishing solidarity with our poor.
How is it possible that we, the richest people on earth, need help from poverty-stricken India? Why is it that without foreign help hundreds of our hospitals would have to reduce their services drastically? Why are we threatening to close down VISTA when more
than ever, according to George Romney, we need volunteers in America and for America?
I don't pretend to have answers for all these questions, and a hundred others easy to enumerate. Yet, even without all the answers I suggest that our national defense and our military security will be fatally flawed until we unite ourselves as a people regardless of race, sex, region, or economic condition.
We seem to have forgotten that when the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. Millions of us today are denying in thought, word, and deed that we are our brothers' keeper, -- keepers of our fellow citizens in the USA, as well as of the destitute overseas.
No free market can ever replace free human services rendered by one free human being to ah6ther human being. A "good society" is the result of billions of such good acts. Government is good, not over-reaching or intrusive, when government encourages, supports and facilitates good, moral activity by the citizens. We are being swamped, night and day, with propaganda for selfishness, for excessive consumption, for killing, for domination of peoples, of nature, of history.
Is it too much to ask ourselves, we who believe in the Peace Corps, is it too much to ask ourselves:
Shouldn't we swing back into action? Shouldn't we volunteer again?
How should we begin? Exactly the way human beings always begin: -- by organizing ourselves. Into what? Into "communities of caring".
In Latin America, basic caring communities have been started right in the villages. Those are caring communities, -- people caring for one another. That's what Peace Corps administrators meant in 1960 when we talked about community development -- developing a sense of community spirit, community action at the grassroots or the riceroots. That's why Americans with only a bachelor's degree were sought after and sent abroad. We were looking for caring
people, not just curing people, those able to cure a disease or a problem. Sure we wanted curing people, but only if they were caring people, too!
In a phrase, the cure is care. Caring for others is the practice of peace! Caring becomes as important as curing. Caring produces the cure.not the reverse. Caring about nuclear war and its victims is the beginning of a cure for our obsession with war. Peace does not come through strength. Quite the opposite: strength comes through peace. The practices of peace strengthen us for every vicissitude. They sensitize us to others. They overcome our pride, our. isolation, our fear. Even communists can be cured by care! They too are fearful, threatened and uncertain. Those greediest for power are the most pitiful old men of all. Stalin or Hitler, alone, trusting no one, worrying about themselves and their immortality, killed millions in an empty effort to prove the validity of their beliefs and fears.
They, and others like them, are the true, pitiful, helpless giants of this world.
The task is immense! Warren Wiggins and Bill Josephson twenty years ago called it -- "the towering task". Well, my friends, in 1981, "the towering task" still towers before us; but, thank God, we still have the Corps of Peace -- that body of human beings who know and have known, that America's destiny is not to be policeman of the world, monarch of the world, Caesar, Imperator, Rex, or Deus. But servant -- servant of people, servant of peace, saviors of humanity.
It's a big task; but it's fun; it's joy; it's the true pursuit of happiness! May you all grow young in the achievement of it.
At conferences of global educators in the Midwest in the mid-1970s, a handful of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers discovered one another and began meeting regularly to discuss how to promote at home the values and lessons they had learned as Peace Corps Volunteers in the developing world. They adopted as their mission one of the three goals articulated by President John F. Kennedy when he created the Peace Corps in 1961: come home and teach your neighbors about the communities where you served. They gave the growing numbers of returning Peace Corps Volunteers in America a continuing mission and a communal identity as Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs).
In 1979, these global educators joined with leaders of communities of RPCVs in New York and Washington, D.C. to create the National Council of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (incorporated 1981). In 1993, we changed our name to the more inclusive National Peace Corps Association (NPCA).
Hon. Clem Zablocki Chairman, the International Relations Committee U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC Dear Mr. Chairman: I’m writing because the wheel of history is about to come around again with efforts to inter the Peace Corps. I refer, of course, to the determination of the Department of State to move the Peace Corps into the Agency of International Development, a design which reminds me that in the case of bureaucrats, bad ideas never die—they simply lie in wait. When the Peace Corps was about to be enacted back in 1961, the old-line employees of State and AID coveted it greedily. It was a natural instinct: established bureaucracies do not like competition from new people. There was another, slightly more idealistic, if still myopic, reason: folks who had been presiding over foreign aid all those years simply thought they knew best how to do it, and they pooh-poohed the idea that volunteers could contribute to a field which had been dominated by professionals. This was of course the fundamental fallacy of their perception of the Peace Corps. It was not to be economic assistance in the traditional sense. Money and goods were not to change hands. The Peace Corps wasn’t even to be “technical assistance” in the way that term was used by the experts. It was to be a sharing of people. Their contribution were to be so diverse, because their experiences and talents and personalities were so diverse, that to shoe-horn them into the existing job descriptions which the bureaucracy wanted to do would be to diminish, tame, and finally extinguish the purpose and enduring value of the program. The very idea of the Peace Corps thus scared the traditional managers of the foreign assistance sector of government. But they couldn’t outright oppose the Peace Corps because it had such high visibility with the new President. They did the next best thing: they sought to absorb it. The result, we knew, would be anonymity for an organization which needed to be publicly conspicuous to attract and excite volunteers and stifling regulation of an idea whose great virtue was that it was by the government but not for the government (it was, I think you will agree, an intriguing idea to ask the State to sponsor: that to serve, people need an opportunity more than they need a program.) We could not, or so it seemed to us, pour new wine into an old bottle. By “we” I mean Sargent Shriver, myself, and our colleagues. I was then working with him in establishing the Peace Corps, having left the services of my mentor and friend, Lyndon B. Johnson. It occurred to me that we should seek the counsel of the new Vice President, who not only had for a long time effectively done combat with the Washington bureaucracy but as character with the Peace Corps—the youth corps established in New Deal days. So Shriver and I called upon him. His argument went like this as we sat in Room P. 38 next to the Senate Floor: “Boys, this town is full of folks who believe the only way to do something is their way. That’s especially true in diplomacy and things like that, because they work with foreign governments and protocol is oh-so-mighty-important to them, with guidebooks and rulebooks and do’s-and-don’t’s to keep you from offending someone. You put the Peace Corps into the Foreign Service have is a knapsack and a tool kit and a lot of imagination. And they’ll give you a hundred and one reason why it won’t work every time you want to do something different, or they’ll try to pair it with some program that’s already working and you’ll get associated with operations that already have provoked a suspicious reputation and the people you want to work with abroad will raise their eyebrows and wonder if you’re trying to spy on them or convert them. Besides, you don’t have money to give out and all these other programs do, so you’ll get treated like the orphan in a big family where your prestige depends upon your budget. And to top it off, they’ll take your volunteers and make them GS one’s and two’s and you’ll send little government employees marching off into the villages over there when you want those countries to accept you as American citizen and not employees of the Secretary of State. And most important of all if you want to recruit the kind of people I think you want, you’re going to have to ask them to do something for their country and not for AID or State. This boy here (he was referring to me) cajoled and begged and pleaded and connived and threatened and politicked to leave me to go to work for the Peace Corps. For the life of me I can’t help imagine him doing that to go to work for the foreign aid program. And I don’t think your folks are going to write home and tell their mom and dad that they’re giving up two years of their lives for the Agency of International Development. Earl Rudder (he was the President of Texas A&M) commanded the Rangers at Normandy—toughest little fightin’ bunch in the war. He took a mess of gangly little country boys and turned them into the damndest crowd Eisenhower let loose that day. Now there had been a big argument in training over whether they were part of the regular forces or not, but ol’ Earl told ‘em they were an army unto them-selves and they believed it. And I’ll tell you this—when they went up those cliffs and through those hedgerows like Indians after my grandpa wasn’t for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It was for Earl Rudder and glory. And if you want the Peace Corps to work, friends, you’ll keep it away from folks downtown who want it to be just another box in an organizational chart, reportin’ to a third assistant director of personnel for the State Department. Who’s your boss in this town is important, and as much as I like Dean Rusk, do you think he’s going to have time to give to Shriver here when he has a problem that has to be working out? Hell, he (Rusk) has to worry about the Russians and the Chinese and Charles DE Gaulle. You’ll wind up seeing his deputy’s deputy. And who the hell is going to volunteer to go to Nigeria for the second deputy Secretary of State? Who the hell is the second deputy Secretary of state, anyway?” Well, he loved hyperbole, did LBJ, but his point was not lost on us. And he felt so keenly about it that he later personally called JFK and implored him to keep the Peace Corps separate and apart, with a life and identity of its own. JFK did—and the rest is history, including the present when the Peace Corps, finally having been incorporated by President Nixon into another and larger bureaucracy, is less a vital force than ever. By all of this, I do not mean to disparage our foreign assistance program or even our diplomatic force. At its best, foreign aid has also expressed the magnanimity of the American people. But the Peace Corps is to the American government what the Franciscans in their prime were to the Roman Catholic Church—a remarkable manifestation of a spirit too particular and personal to be contained by an ecclesiastic (read: bureaucratic) organization. It is not like anything else and it should not be organized as if it were. I write, then, as a friend of an idea that can be as potent today as it once was, if it is liberated to be so. I think the effort to free it (HR 12956) is worthy. As much as I admired Hubert Humphrey and applaud the desire to bring the programs that mattered to him under a separate aegis in the Department of State, I have to think the way to do it in this case is to let the Peace Corps fly on its own—it is different—rather than to place it in a foster home. Sincerely, Bill Moyers
Dr. (James)Nabrit, Vice-President Stewart) Nelson, my very good friend, Sam Yette, members of the freshman class, and then all. of you:older people who are here today: I guess the best thing to "do, would be to declare a recess and go out and sit alongside that lake out there, and just take it easy at this point, because we do have.a beautiful day. But I'm afraid that I'd lose some of you if we went out of the building, and I don't want to lose any of you--not even for a few minutes. I consider this a great opportunity to come here to Howard University, and to have the chance to speak to all of you informally, and then to answer some questions you might have about the. Peace Corps. I consider it a great opportunity because we in the Peace Corps have had, I think, an. unequalled record of bringing into the peace Corps--both as Volunteers and staff members--persons from minority groups within the society of the United States. I'm very glad that Dr. Nabrit mentioned an his introduction) the question of segregation in the Chicago public schools., When I was President of the Board of Education there I was one vote out of 11. There were 11 members on that Board of Education. But as Director of the Peace Corps, my vote counts a little bit more heavily than all the other votes. I can get some of the things done that I like to do myself. And I'm happy to report to this group that the Peace Corps has got more members of minority groups working in staff jobs in Washington at higher levels than any agency in the history of the. United States, government. Lots of people talk about what they're going to do in the future about civil rights in this country, or that they're going to get into some struggle; but I'd like to affirm to you that the Peace Corps has been in this struggle ever since we opened our doors. Twenty-five per cent of all the employees of the Peace Corps are members of minority groups--a large portion of them Negro Americans. We refused very early in the game to make a contract with any institution which had any form of discrimination in any of its facilities, even when such restrictions were not imposed upon trainees whom we would send to the institution. We have sent white men to black men's countries in Africa. We've sent Jews to Moslem countries. We've sent Protestants to Catholic countries. We've sent Christians to Moslem countries. We-were told at the beginning that this couldn't-be done, that if you sent Protestant Americans to work in some of the small towns of rural South America where the Catholics were very strong and very anti-Protestant that they would throw the Volunteers out, that the priests in those towns would say-that-the Volunteers who were Protestants were such bad people that if you talked to them you would commit a sin. We were told these things. I had a distinguished member of the Senate tell me that if . we insisted on sending Jewish people to Moslem countries we would never get an invitation from such a country. The truth is that we're working in four or five Moslem countries. There are Jewish Peace Corps Volunteers'in every contingent we bave sent to those countries. We've never had an incident in any of them. We've done the same thing in South America. We have Protestant American Volunteers working all over South America, and in rural villages very closely dominated perhaps by a priest--and yet our Volunteers have had no trouble. We were also told that we couldn't get qualified Negroes to do certain types of work abroad. They didn't exist, we were told. But we took the position that the reason they didn't_show up was because they never were sought. People sat in business and government offices waiting for persons to come in to apply for jobs, when, in fact, those persons representative of minority races knew there wasn't a chance for them to get a job. So instead of just sittin there and waiting, we went out and actively sought minority group mdmbers to work with the Peace Corps. The result of that is that 25 per cent of our staff is composed of minority group members. They're not all just down on the lower levels of the Peace Corps either. The Peace Corps is divided into four regions: a Latin America region, an Africa region, Middle East, and Far East. The men in charge of those regions operate the entire Peace Corps in those regions. Two of the four persons running those regions for the Peace Corps are Negro Americans. Dr. Sam Proctor, the President of North Carolina A&T College in Greensboro, has worked with us for 18 months. Then he went back to his job as President of N.C. A&T. But in the last few weeks he's decided to come back with the Peace Corps. He's going to_be one of our five Associate Directors--those five highest 'officials in the Peace Corps. - -2- Maurice Bean, a graduate of this University is a Deputy Director of the Far East for the Peace Corps. Dr. Gregory Newton, the former Basileus of Omega Psi Phi fraternity, is one of our senior training Officers, and so is Dr. Marie Gadsden in the same department. We've got people running the Peace Corps in African countries, and I can remember very well when we started that I was given a lot of expert advice that this was not good. The argument ran something like thisg "Americans treat the Negro Americans as if they were second•class citizens here in the United States, so if you, as a government agency, send a Negro American to run a program in an African country, the Africans will take that as an insult. They will.say you can't think very much of us if you send here to run a program a citizen whom you at home consider to be a second class citizen. "And frankly, I said to myself, "nuts!"' I said that I didn't believe anybody thinks that way. And so we set out to find qualified people—I didn't care what race or color they were—wto run our programs in Africa, Asia and South America. And Negro Americans were in charge of three of the first five programs we opened in Africa. We've never had any trouble at all. We've never had anybody in any African nations say that these men were not qualified. And let me repeat to you that those were the first Negro Americans ever to hold such jobs for the United States government. Today, a Negro American is running the Peace Corps in Liberia, Nyasaland, Ghana, Togo, British Honduras and Tran. Also, the Deputy Director of the program in Nigeria is a Negro. American, and we have Negro American staff members on every continent, in every country. That didn't just happen. It happened because we had a program of action; that's what the Peace Corps believes in, and that's what we stand for: an action program that represents, I hope, the best of America—the dreams and, ideals of American society. I think that we cannot only do this within the Peace Corps, but we can do it within American business; we can do it with respect to housing, and job opportunities in this country. I was very much pleased when just a few days ago, a group of Peace Corps staff members downtown took annual leave from their jobs at our headquarters and went out and picketed a real estate firm right here in Washington, D. C. which had refused to give a lease to a returning Peace Corps Volunteer. A fellow had done excellent work as a PCV overseas for two years on behalf of his country. But the real estate firm refused a lease to him because he Was a Negro American, And our employees at the headquarters took annual leave and went out and picketed that landlord, and that ex-Peace Corps Volunteer will get that apartment. -3- Now that's what we think about race relations in the United States, and that's the way we run them within the Peace Carps. If we had never done anything other than just that, I would say that the Peace Corps had justified its existence. But for those of you who are thinking perhaps about-service in the Peace Corps, I think there are other things that you could consider about this organization. First of all, the Peace Corps is doing exactly what we said we would do. Now, you may say that's nothing very unusual; but allow me to assure you that in government that is unusual. We said at the beginning that we would send American Volunteers overseas at a specific cost, that they would live in local housing, that they would eat local food, that they would live under the local laws without diplomatic privileges and immunities, that they would speak the local languages, and use the local transportation, and they would not have to patronize the PX, and get duty-free liquor, and duty-free cigarettes--and everybody laughed. I can remember the famous newspaper called The Times of India stating at that time that this was a ridiculous thought-- that young Americans would never do such a thing; that they couldn't get along without air-conditioning and television, and hamburgers and bobby sox, and bobby pins, and-other "extras." Today, these Americans--of all races and creeds, incidentally-- are living in 47 countries, and they're living at the village's level. They're working there, and so far, they have performed as well,-or even better than we ever expected. I don't know whether it's because of these reasons, or because we're doing it very inexpensively--at the cost that we said we would do it--that the Peace Corps is alleged to be the only agency in the U. S. government which enjoys the combined simultaneous support of Hubert H. Humphrey and Barry Goldwater. But we're grateful for the support of both those men, and not long ago Billy Graham endorsed the Peace Corps, and we're for that, too. We all know whose side he's on, and we want to be on that side too. At the beginning of the Peace Corps it was stated that this would be some sort of a Democratic partisan politics-type of an operation. But I'm happy to report to you that we have three Saltonstalls in the Peace Corps. We have had--we don't have right now--but we did have a Rockefeller in the Peace Corps, and he hasn't left for political reasons either. We even have the grandson of the late Senator Robert A. Taft working with us out in Tanganyika. -4- Now we've got all these distinguished Republican names, and I want you to know that, we also have some room in the Peace Corps for people named Hernandez,, and mankiewicz, and Sonski. And we even have room for a few Irishmen like O'Brien in the Peace Corps, The Peace Corps, as I said before, has done what it said it would do. There are no barriers on race, creed, or color; there are no barriers on religion. And because of this we have an open society which has attracted Americans of all classes. A second thing about the Peace Corps you might remember is the fact that it is competent--that is, the Peace Corps Volunteers have proved to be competent. Now again, when we started the Peace Corps, people said you can't possibly send American kids overseas to do jobs that experts have failed to accomplish. It was a ludicrous idea to send people like you. It was stated that you didn't have either the moral courage or the physical stamina, or the intelligence--they had a very high opinion of you. You had none of these things which were required for these jobs. They predicted, in fact, that when you got over there you'd cause more trouble than you were worth; you'd prove to be incompetent in the work; the American diplomats would be in the throes of despair because of all the problems you would cause, and foreign governments would be sending you home. The truth of the matter is that after three years of operation. We have yet to have any foreign government declare even one Peace. Corps Volunteer to be incompetent for the job he was sent over there to do whether he was sent over there to be a school teacher, or lawyer, social worker, an architect or a Volunteer working in educational television--not one has been declared incompetent. And they've done all these jobs that I have just mentioned. In addition, we have over 300 university teachers overseas, teaching in Africa, in Asia, Latin America, and elsewhere. These are difficult jobs, requiring high levels of competence, and those Volunteer teachers have done very well with them. Now we've had some unusual jobs too. For example, one country asked us to send a person to operate a tire , re-capping machine. thought that was a rather odd request--I wondered why they needed somebody to do that, but then I found out that the United States had given them the tire re-capping machine. Now you might say it's not too bard to get a person to run a tire re-capping machine--there are probably a thousand of them right here in Washington. But if you try to find a fellow to run a tire re-capping machine--who also can speak Farsi--that's difficult. Well, we've got that fellow--he's out in Afghanistan, and he's running that tire re-capping machine, and he speaks Farsi quite well. I saw him out there just about two or three weeks ago. -5- We were asked to send English teachers to Togo, because Togo, having been formerly a French colony, used French as the official language. Yet, the government people there, and others, were very. Much interested in learning English so they could communicate more easily with the Nigerians and the Ghanians, and so on. So vié sent English teachers out there to teach in the schools. Little did we realize that when one of the girls in this group--a 26-year old Negro American, incidentally--went out there, that shortly after she arrived, about a year later, there would be a coup d'etat. President Olympio was killed. A new president--named Grunitzky--came to power. About two or three months after President Grunitsky came to power, he called on the Peace Corps and asked us to send somebody who could teach him English. And this young, 26-year old Negro American girl now goes three or four days a week to the Presidential Palace of the President of Togo, and gives English instructions that requires a certain degree of competence! She had it. As a result, we're not only giving English instruction to him, but to other members of his family, and to other members of his Cabinet. Another thing about the Peace Corps Volunteers that might interest you is that they're popular. I remember when we started the Peace Corps, the slogan "Yankee Go Home" was the most prevalent slogan in the underdeveloped world. And the theory was--at least in some people--that we had too many Americans overseas. They were over there causing us a lot of bad publicity, and creating a bad impression, and the objective was to bring as many of them home as possible. So it was a great idea when we decided we'd try to send 10,000 more overseas. Everyone threw up his hands:at that prospect.But it was about two years ago--I mean it was two years after we started--that I was in Thailand. I had the honor of calling on the Prime Minister at that time, whose name was Sari-b. And afterward, the Bangkok World had a streamer headline on an inside page. It said, "Send Us More Peace Corps Volunteers," and it was signed "Sara." In every nation to which the Peace Corps has gone, almost without exception, the government and the people of those countries have asked us to double or triple or guadruple, or quintuple the number of Volunteers we sent out there to begin with. These Volunteers have proved to be popular. As an example of what's happened, I'll just cite Afghanistan, where I was visiting just three weeks ago. We sent nine Volunteers there to start our program. That was the smallest contingent we've ever sent to any country—nine. About a year later they asked us to send 30 more, and then they asked us to send still 30 more, so that by the time I got to Afghansistan, there were about 68 Peace Corps Volunteers in that country. -6- Afghanistan has had a long, long history of being conquered and laid waste by one invader after another; and they're very suspicious of foreigners. It 'doesn't make any difference what country the foreigners come from--they don't like them While I was there, the, Cabinet of Afghanistan had a meeting, and for the first time in dOkih temporary history of that country, they granted to one organization the right to work all over Afghanistan, in the small villages, as, well as in the large cities and in the capital. And the organization which got that unique privilege was the Peace Corps. And as I left that country, I was handed a letter requesting us to supply 220 additional Volunteers to Afghanistan, a country where we started with nine just two years ago. In the Philippines, there's an award named after the famous President of the Philippines, Magsaysay. The Magsaysay Award is known in some quarters as the Nobel Prize of Asia. It's a nongovernmental award, given by a distinguised board of directors, all of them Asians. Last September, for the first time in the history of that award, the award was bestowed upon a group of non-Asians, a group of Westerners--and that group was the Peace Corps Volunteers working in Asia. And with the award came a $10,000 check in recognition of the contribution made by these Peace Corps Volunteers working in 14 different Asian nations. I'll never forget a picture I got about a year and a half after the Peace Corps got started. It was a picture from Ghana. It was a picture of a fellow named Michael Shea, a Peace Corps Volunteer who was teaching in a high school in Ghana. As an extra-curricular activity, Mike Shea coached the soccer team, and the soccer team at his school won the high school championship of Ghana. I received a picture of the team showing the students carrying Mike Shea off the field in jubilation on their shoulders. And I said to myself, "I wonder how many white men are being carried around in jubilation on the shoulders of Africans today?" I think you'll agree with me, there are very few. But this Peace Corps Volunteer was being acclaimed in that way--another sign of what I mean when I say they are popular. Now, just in the last few months, another extraordinary thing has happened. The country of Panama severed relations with the United States of America. There are some 50 Peace Corps Volunteers in Panama, but the Panamanian government has never even hinted at the suggestion that maybe the Peace Corps Volunteers should be thrown out of Panama because they had broken relations with our country. In fact, it's just the opposite--they want more Peace Corps Volunteers. -7- We, the United States, suspended diplomatic relations with the Dominican Republic about six or seven months ago, But there was never any suggestion at that time that the Peace Corps Volunteers--190 of them--be brought out of the Dominican Republic, They stayed there all during the period when diplomatic relations were suspended, and, in fact, the Dominican Republic asked us for more volunteers, In West Africa, in Ghana, the newspapers attack the Peace Corps about once a month, and use rather violent language at times. Lots of people back home here get very excited about this. One of the things they don't realize is that I think there are 9-10 million people in Ghana, and the circulation of the largest newspaper is something less than 40,000 Nevertheless, we get very excited--some people do back here--about that. And, yet, when the attacks on the Peace Corps sometimes are at their height in the newspapers, the government of Ghana asks us to send more Peace Corps, Volunteers. A rather interesting example of that was two years ago when President Nkrumah went to Moscow to receive the Lenin Peace Prize. He received the Lenin Peace Prize, and made a big trip to Red China, then came back to Ghana and asked us to double the size of the Peace Corps, So I think you have to look upon the Peace Corps as something a little bit different than a part of a governmental operation, or as something which is part of any cold war, or colonialistic operation or imperialism. It's not any of those things, and , these actions which I have-just cited to you indicate the fact that not only in our own country, but all around the world, the Peace Corps is looked upon as something different. But these things about the Peace Corps and the Volunteers in it perhaps are of some interest to you. But some of you may be saying to yourself, "Are two years in the Peace Corps going to be a waste of time for me? Is it going to be an interruption in my career, let's say, planning to be a teacher, or lawyer, or a doctor, or social worker, or pharmacist? Will I get behind the competition, if I'm a man?" Or, sometimes, the girls think that all the guys will be married if they go overseas and come back two years hence. On that point I might mention that we've had quite a few marriages in the Peace Corps--something like 300 now. Consider the Howard co-ed who dates a certain fellow on campus tonight--how much does she really know about that fellow? He may be a friend of the family, but she doesn't know as much about him as she would if he were a Volunteer. If you're in the Peace Corps, and you see another Volunteer--think what you know about him. -8- In the first place, you know that he's got some intellectual capacity--otherwise he wouldn't have got through the training and be able to learn the foreign language and so on. Second, you know that he's physically O.K. He's been all checked out by the doctors. Third, you know he's gone through a lot of psychological testing--so this fellow is not a nut. He may act in a strange way, but even the doctors say that he's been psychiatrically tested, so he's in pretty good shape there. And even under extreme circumstances, you can know that this fellow has even been cleared by the FBI. Now how many times can you go out on a date here at home, and know all that? Well, that was sort of parenthetical--excuse me. I was going to talk; for just a second about the fact that the Peace Corps should not be looked upon as an interruption in your career. -In fact, it should, I think, be looked upon as a continuation of whatever academic work you're doing. Now here's the reason why I think so: In the first place, out of 545 Peace Corps Volunteers who came home,up until December 31st, about 50 per cent of them have gone on with their education in the United States. They've earned over $200,000 in scholarships and prizes They're studying at a whole variety of American universities. They're doing graduate work, undergraduate work, and most of them--as I say--have gotten fellowships for the. So they have got a continuing educational career. These are jobs and scholarships and opportunities. which would not have been opened to these Volunteers if they had not gone into the Peace Corps. It explains why the Dean of Harvard College says that two years in the Peace Corps is more valuable than a Rhodes scholarship He says that because-at least he told me ---because of the fact that if you go to Oxford or Cambridge, after having spending undergraduate career here at Howard, for example, and you go over to Oxford and Cambridge, there's very little difference. You're still getting lectured at by people speaking English. Well, they may speak with a slightly difference accent; that's true. They may give-you a slightly different interpretation of the American Revolution. But, basically, you're in the same culture. But if you go as a Peace Corps Volunteer and teach on the faculty let's say, of a school in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia, Uganda, or Togo; or go down to South America in a Latin American culture; if you go out to India, or Thailand, Indonesia-- for the first time in your life you may have the experience-, of living in a different culture all day long every day. You would have a chance to begin to look on yourself objectively for the first time---to begin to inquire why you do the things you do, why you think the thoughts you think, why you have the conclusions or attitudes that you have. -9- It's been said, at least once, I know, by a famous man, that: if you know only one language, you don't even know that one language well. Perhaps it's true that if you know only one culture, you don't know that culture well. The Peace Corps gives you that kind of experience, and a Rhodes scholarship cannot, and that's why-the Dean of Harvard stated that two years in the Peace Corps are more valuable than a Rhodes scholarship. Well, I could go on talking to you about the values of service 'in the Peace Corps, but it would be a disservice to the Volunteers if I over-emphasized the selfish values to you. The Peace Corps has not been based on that kind of selfish attitude, and it does not explain the great spirit which the Volunteers have. The true nature of the Peace Corps is better illustrated, I think, by two boys who were the first two to die--the first two to lose their lives abroad. They were killed in an airplane accident in Colombia. One- of them was a fellow named David Crozier from Missouri, and the other was a -.fellow named Lawrence Radley from Chicago. Just before he died, David Crozier wrote a letter to his parents, and they wrote me a letter after he was dead, quoting from David's letter, His parents quoted this sentence from their son--their son said to them: "If it Should come to it, I would rather give my life, trying to help these people, than to have to give my life looking down a gun barrel at them." And his parents put a postscript on that letter, and said, "We are not sorry that our son David joined the Peace Corps and went to Colombia." Now, this spirit of voluntary sacrifice which that family had, and the attitude of that boy, exemplify the Peace Corps. And I'll never forget--it was about four or five months ago, when the Selection Division of the Peace Corps put a slip of paper on my desk, and it stated that David Crozier's sister had joined the Peace Corps and was going to South. America. Once again, the spirit of that family exemplified the spirit of the Peace Corps. And the boy who was killed With him from Chicago--Lawrence his parents were terribly grieved, as all parents would be by that accident. But they did not stop Lawrence Radley's sister when she joined the Peace Corps, and she's now' overseas, and that again exemplifies the spirit of the Peace Corps. When these two boys were killed in Colombia, South America, there was an editorial in the local paper there and it called attention to the fact that the first two Peace Corps Volunteers killed overseas were a Baptist boy from Missouri--David Crozier--and a Jewish Boy from Chicago--Lawrence Radley, And they were killed working in what's called a Catholic country in Latin America. -10- We had a conference in Puerto Rico about a year ago, and on the last night the great cellist, Pablo Casals, cameIt WaS.cluite late He couldn°t stand up at the podium to speak because he was very elderly and had been working hard all day. So we put the microphone* in front of him. at the dinner table, and Pablo Casals said: "The Peace Corps, is new; it is also very old, We have in a sen se come full'circle. We have come from the tyranny of the enormous, awesome discordant machine, back to a realization that the beginning and the' end are man, that it is man who is important, not the machine; that it is,man who accounts for growth, not just dollars or factories. And above all, that it is man who is the object of all of our efforts." That really is the Peace Corps--thank you. Well, Dr. Nabrit has given me permission to come back up here and try to answer your questions, if there are some--from the podium, and I really would be happy if any of you here, including our students from abroad, if they have any questions about the Peace Corps, I'd be glad to try to answer them. Yes? QUESTION: Are you placing Negroes to get around opposition in Africa? If I understood the question correctly, it was sort of a barbed question.' The idea was this--is the fact that we are placing Negroes at the head of Peace Corps operations in various countries, and he mentioned some in. Africa--is this a way of getting around opposition in Africa? Is this a way of getting around them--tricking them, you mean--tricking them? The answer obviously is no. The answer--the reason why I mentioned that fact was not for the purpose that you imply, but merely to show, first of all, that there are many American Negroes who are qualified to run operations of this type all around the world. Second, we don't have them just in Africa, we-have them in a variety of countries, both in Latin America and the Middle East, the Far East, and so on. So we're not trying to trick the Filipinos, let's say, by having . Negro Americans in positions of high importance on the staff in the Philippines. What we are trying to do is to give equal opportunity to equally qualified Americans, irrespective of race. And what happens when you do that is the results that I've just told you. QUESTION: May persons serve more than two years in the Peace Corps? And the answer is "yes." We have a--at the beginning we didn't permit that, but about six months ago we changed our policy, and we now have two ways in which you can continue. Number one, you can continue on for another year, right in the same country where you're working. If you volunteer to do so. So you could spend three years in one country. On the other hand, you can spend two years in a country, come home to the United States and then go to another country if you want, after going through training, of course, for the other country. QUESTION: (Possibility of Americans getting into a difficult environment overseas.) If I got it correctly, it is said that there are many places in Africa--I think you said--maybe in other countries, where Americans find it difficult to survive on account of the climate or the heat, -12- and even because maybe it's dangerous there, on account of local difficulties, you mean? Well, we haven't found those places Yet. (laughter) I'm sure they're somewhere, because people have been telling me for three years that they are there, but I guess you saw a few days ago about those five girls who walked across the Sahara Desert--I should say hitchhiked--they hitchhiked across the Sahara Desert. I'm sure that before they did that, everybody in this room would have told me that five American girls could not possibly hitchhike across the Sahara Desert, but there they went and did it. As a matter of fact, you might be interested to know that a Peace Corps staff member in Nepal, the Deputy Director of the Peace Corps in Nepal, took off for three months--took a leave of absence and climbed Mt. Everest. QUESTION: (With relatively limited backgrounds at this stage in education, would they be eligible to volunteer for the Peace Corps?') Well, you look rather large to me--I'd think you'd probably have good experience--you can volunteer for the Peace Corps if you're 18 years of age, or older. We've got a man 77 out in Pakistan, so You don't have to worry about that yet. You don't have to have specific educational requirements. We have excellent Peace Corps Volunteers who are high school graduates, and they do, for example, exceptionally good work if they have a foreign background, or if they're very good with machinery, as an automobile mechanic, or a diesel nechanic. It isn't necessarily the exact level of your education, it' s whether you're qualified to do a job, which a foreign country has asked us to perform. Now therefore, in your case what you should do is volunteer and let us look at your qualifications, and if there's a job you can do then we would invite you to do it. In that respect I might emphasize one point. If you volunteer and sign the Volunteer application, you're not committed to anything. Now I know that doesn't sound true. You know how it is. Nobody ever believes it when you say, sign here, and you don't have to buy the washing machine, or whatever it is. Well, the truth is, in the Peace Corps, that when you fill out the application, all you do is indicate to us that you are willing to consider service in the Peace Corps if we ask you. Now we don't ask everybody, so you might never get an invitation. The second thing is, if you get the invitation, you can always say I don't want to go. We might ask you, for example, to go to Brazil. You can say I don't want to go to any place except Peru. Then we take your application and put it in the Peru file, and then if we've got a job in Peru that you can do, then you might get an -13- invitation to Peru, but there's nothing obligatory about the Peace Corps. In fact, after you're in it, if you're overseas, if you want to quit, you can quit. In that respect I might mention we've only had about three and a half per cent of all the people in the Peace Corps quit.
Delivered in person before a joint session of Congress May 25, 1961
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, my copartners in Government, gentlemen-and ladies:
The Constitution imposes upon me the obligation to "from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union." While this has traditionally been interpreted as an annual affair, this tradition has been broken in extraordinary times.
These are extraordinary times. And we face an extraordinary challenge. Our strength as well as our convictions have imposed upon this nation the role of leader in freedom's cause.
No role in history could be more difficult or more important. We stand for freedom.
That is our conviction for ourselves--that is our only commitment to others. No friend, no neutral and no adversary should think otherwise. We are not against any man--or any nation--or any system--except as it is hostile to freedom. Nor am I here to present a new military doctrine, bearing any one name or aimed at any one area. I am here to promote the freedom doctrine.
I. The great battleground for the defense and expansion of freedom today is the whole southern half of the globe--Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East--the lands of the rising peoples. Their revolution is the greatest in human history. They seek an end to injustice, tyranny, and exploitation. More than an end, they seek a beginning.
And theirs is a revolution which we would support regardless of the Cold War, and regardless of which political or economic route they should choose to freedom.
For the adversaries of freedom did not create the revolution; nor did they create the conditions which compel it. But they are seeking to ride the crest of its wave--to capture it for themselves.
Yet their aggression is more often concealed than open. They have fired no missiles; and their troops are seldom seen. They send arms, agitators, aid, technicians and propaganda to every troubled area. But where fighting is required, it is usually done by others--by guerrillas striking at night, by assassins striking alone--assassins who have taken the lives of four thousand civil officers in the last twelve months in Vietnam alone--by subversives and saboteurs and insurrectionists, who in some cases control whole areas inside of independent nations.
[At this point the following paragraph, which appears in the text as signed and transmitted to the Senate and House of Representatives, was omitted in the reading of the message:
They possess a powerful intercontinental striking force, large forces for conventional war, a well-trained underground in nearly every country, the power to conscript talent and manpower for any purpose, the capacity for quick decisions, a closed society without dissent or free information, and long experience in the techniques of violence and subversion. They make the most of their scientific successes, their economic progress and their pose as a foe of colonialism and friend of popular revolution. They prey on unstable or unpopular governments, unsealed, or unknown boundaries, unfilled hopes, convulsive change, massive poverty, illiteracy, unrest and frustration.]
With these formidable weapons, the adversaries of freedom plan to consolidate their territory--to exploit, to control, and finally to destroy the hopes of the world's newest nations; and they have ambition to do it before the end of this decade. It is a contest of will and purpose as well as force and violence--a battle for minds and souls as well as lives and territory. And in that contest, we cannot stand aside.
We stand, as we have always stood from our earliest beginnings, for the independence and equality of all nations. This nation was born of revolution and raised in freedom. And we do not intend to leave an open road for despotism.
There is no single simple policy which meets this challenge. Experience has taught us that no one nation has the power or the wisdom to solve all the problems of the world or manage its revolutionary tides--that extending our commitments does not always increase our security--that any initiative carries with it the risk of a temporary defeat--that nuclear weapons cannot prevent subversion--that no free people can be kept free without will and energy of their own--and that no two nations or situations are exactly alike.
Yet there is much we can do--and must do. The proposals I bring before you are numerous and varied. They arise from the host of special opportunities and dangers which have become increasingly clear in recent months. Taken together, I believe that they can mark another step forward in our effort as a people. I am here to ask the help of this Congress and the nation in approving these necessary measures.
II. ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL PROGRESS AT HOME
The first and basic task confronting this nation this year was to turn recession into recovery. An affirmative anti-recession program, initiated with your cooperation, supported the natural forces in the private sector; and our economy is now enjoying renewed confidence and energy. The recession has been halted. Recovery is under way.
But the task of abating unemployment and achieving a full use of our resources does remain a serious challenge for us all. Large-scale unemployment during a recession is bad enough, but large-scale unemployment during a period of prosperity would be intolerable.
I am therefore transmitting to the Congress a new Manpower Development and Training program, to train or retrain several hundred thousand workers, particularly in those areas where we have seen chronic unemployment as a result of technological factors in new occupational skills over a four-year period, in order to replace those skills made obsolete by automation and industrial change with the new skills which the new processes demand.
It should be a satisfaction to us all that we have made great strides in restoring world confidence in the dollar, halting the outflow of gold and improving our balance of payments. During the last two months, our gold stocks actually increased by seventeen million dollars, compared to a loss of 635 million dollars during the last two months of 1960. We must maintain this progress--and this will require the cooperation and restraint of everyone. As recovery progresses, there will be temptations to seek unjustified price and wage increases. These we cannot afford. They will only handicap our efforts to compete abroad and to achieve full recovery here at home. Labor and management must--and I am confident that they will--pursue responsible wage and price policies in these critical times. I look to the President's Advisory Committee on Labor Management Policy to give a strong lead in this direction.
Moreover, if the budget deficit now increased by the needs of our security is to be held within manageable proportions, it will be necessary to hold tightly to prudent fiscal standards; and I request the cooperation of the Congress in this regard--to refrain from adding funds or programs, desirable as they may be, to the Budget--to end the postal deficit, as my predecessor also recommended, through increased rates--a deficit incidentally, this year, which exceeds the fiscal 1962 cost of all the space and defense measures that I am submitting today--to provide full pay-as-you-go highway financing--and to close those tax loopholes earlier specified. Our security and progress cannot be cheaply purchased; and their price must be found in what we all forgo as well as what we all must pay.
III. ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL PROGRESS ABROAD
I stress the strength of our economy because it is essential to the strength of our nation. And what is true in our case is true in the case of other countries. Their strength in the struggle for freedom depends on the strength of their economic and their social progress.
We would be badly mistaken to consider their problems in military terms alone. For no amount of arms and armies can help stabilize those governments which are unable or unwilling to achieve social and economic reform and development. Military pacts cannot help nations whose social injustice and economic chaos invite insurgency and penetration and subversion. The most skillful counter-guerrilla efforts cannot succeed where the local population is too caught up in its own misery to be concerned about the advance of communism.
But for those who share this view, we stand ready now, as we have in the past, to provide generously of our skills, and our capital, and our food to assist the peoples of the less-developed nations to reach their goals in freedom--to help them before they are engulfed in crisis.
This is also our great opportunity in 1961. If we grasp it, then subversion to prevent its success is exposed as an unjustifiable attempt to keep these nations from either being free or equal. But if we do not pursue it, and if they do not pursue it, the bankruptcy of unstable governments, one by one, and of unfilled hopes will surely lead to a series of totalitarian receiverships.
Earlier in the year, I outlined to the Congress a new program for aiding emerging nations; and it is my intention to transmit shortly draft legislation to implement this program, to establish a new Act for International Development, and to add to the figures previously requested, in view of the swift pace of critical events, an additional 250 million dollars for a Presidential Contingency Fund, to be used only upon a Presidential determination in each case, with regular and complete reports to the Congress in each case, when there is a sudden and extraordinary drain upon our regular funds which we cannot foresee--as illustrated by recent events in Southeast Asia--and it makes necessary the use of this emergency reserve. The total amount requested--now raised to 2..65 billion dollars--is both minimal and crucial. I do not see how anyone who is concerned--as we all are--about the growing threats to freedom around the globe--and who is asking what more we can do as a people--can weaken or oppose the single most important program available for building the frontiers of freedom.
IV.All that I have said makes it clear that we are engaged in a world-wide struggle in which we bear a heavy burden to preserve and promote the ideals that we share with all mankind, or have alien ideals forced upon them. That struggle has highlighted the role of our Information Agency. It is essential that the funds previously requested for this effort be not only approved in full, but increased by 2 million, 400 thousand dollars, to a total of 121 million dollars.
This new request is for additional radio and television to Latin America and Southeast Asia. These tools are particularly effective and essential in the cities and villages of those great continents as a means of reaching millions of uncertain peoples to tell them of our interest in their fight for freedom. In Latin America, we are proposing to increase our Spanish and Portuguese broadcasts to a total of 154 hours a week, compared to 42 hours today, none of which is in Portuguese, the language of about one-third of the people of South America. The Soviets, Red Chinese and satellites already broadcast into Latin America more than 134 hours a week in Spanish and Portuguese. Communist China alone does more public information broadcasting in our own hemisphere than we do. Moreover, powerful propaganda broadcasts from Havana now are heard throughout Latin America, encouraging new revolutions in several countries.
Similarly, in Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, we must communicate our determination and support to those upon whom our hopes for resisting the communist tide in that continent ultimately depend. Our interest is in the truth.
V. OUR PARTNERSHIP FOR SELF-DEFENSE
But while we talk of sharing and building and the competition of ideas, others talk of arms and threaten war. So we have learned to keep our defenses strong--and to cooperate with others in a partnership of self-defense. The events of recent weeks have caused us to look anew at these efforts.
The center of freedom's defense is our network of world alliances, extending from NATO, recommended by a Democratic President and approved by a Republican Congress, to SEATO, recommended by a Republican President and approved by a Democratic Congress. These alliances were constructed in the 1940's and 1950's--it is our task and responsibility in the 1960's to strengthen them.
To meet the changing conditions of power--and power relationships have changed--we have endorsed an increased emphasis on NATO's conventional strength. At the same time we are affirming our conviction that the NATO nuclear deterrent must also be kept strong. I have made clear our intention to commit to the NATO command, for this purpose, the 5 Polaris submarines originally suggested by President Eisenhower, with the possibility, if needed, of more to come.
Second, a major part of our partnership for self-defense is the Military Assistance Program. The main burden of local defense against local attack, subversion, insurrection or guerrilla warfare must of necessity rest with local forces. Where these forces have the necessary will and capacity to cope with such threats, our intervention is rarely necessary or helpful. Where the will is present and only capacity is lacking, our Military Assistance Program can be of help.
But this program, like economic assistance, needs a new emphasis. It cannot be extended without regard to the social, political and military reforms essential to internal respect and stability. The equipment and training provided must be tailored to legitimate local needs and to our own foreign and military policies, not to our supply of military stocks or a local leader's desire for military display. And military assistance can, in addition to its military purposes, make a contribution to economic progress, as do our own Army Engineers.
In an earlier message, I requested 1.6 billion dollars for Military Assistance, stating that this would maintain existing force levels, but that I could not foresee how much more might be required. It is now clear that this is not enough. The present crisis in Southeast Asia, on which the Vice President has made a valuable report--the rising threat of communism in Latin America--the increased arms traffic in Africa--and all the new pressures on every nation found on the map by tracing your fingers along the borders of the Communist bloc in Asia and the Middle East--all make clear the dimension of our needs.
I therefore request the Congress to provide a total of 1.885 billion dollars for Military Assistance in the coming fiscal year--an amount less than that requested a year ago--but a minimum which must be assured if we are to help those nations make secure their independence. This must be prudently and wisely spent--and that will be our common endeavor. Military and economic assistance has been a heavy burden on our citizens for a long time, and I recognize the strong pressures against it; but this battle is far from over, it is reaching a crucial stage, and I believe we should participate in it. We cannot merely state our opposition to totalitarian advance without paying the price of helping those now under the greatest pressure.
VI. OUR OWN MILITARY AND INTELLIGENCE SHIELD
In line with these developments, I have directed a further reinforcement of our own capacity to deter or resist non-nuclear aggression. In the conventional field, with one exception, I find no present need for large new levies of men. What is needed is rather a change of position to give us still further increases in flexibility.
Therefore, I am directing the Secretary of Defense to undertake a reorganization and modernization of the Army's divisional structure, to increase its non-nuclear firepower, to improve its tactical mobility in any environment, to insure its flexibility to meet any direct or indirect threat, to facilitate its coordination with our major allies, and to provide more modern mechanized divisions in Europe and bring their equipment up to date, and new airborne brigades in both the Pacific and Europe.
And secondly, I am asking the Congress for an additional 100 million dollars to begin the procurement task necessary to re-equip this new Army structure with the most modern material. New helicopters, new armored personnel carriers, and new howitzers, for example, must be obtained now.
Third, I am directing the Secretary of Defense to expand rapidly and substantially, in cooperation with our Allies, the orientation of existing forces for the conduct of non-nuclear war, paramilitary operations and sub-limited or unconventional wars.
In addition our special forces and unconventional warfare units will be increased and reoriented. Throughout the services new emphasis must be placed on the special skills and languages which are required to work with local populations.
Fourth, the Army is developing plans to make possible a much more rapid deployment of a major portion of its highly trained reserve forces. When these plans are completed and the reserve is strengthened, two combat-equipped divisions, plus their supporting forces, a total of 89,000 men, could be ready in an emergency for operations with but 3 weeks' notice--2 more divisions with but 5 weeks' notice--and six additional divisions and their supporting forces, making a total of 10 divisions, could be deployable with less than 8 weeks' notice. In short, these new plans will allow us to almost double the combat power of the Army in less than two months, compared to the nearly nine months heretofore required.
Fifth, to enhance the already formidable ability of the Marine Corps to respond to limited war emergencies, I am asking the Congress for 60 million dollars to increase the Marine Corps strength to 190,000 men. This will increase the initial impact and staying power of our three Marine divisions and three air wings, and provide a trained nucleus for further expansion, if necessary for self-defense.
Finally, to cite one other area of activities that are both legitimate and necessary as a means of self-defense in an age of hidden perils, our whole intelligence effort must be reviewed, and its coordination with other elements of policy assured. The Congress and the American people are entitled to know that we will institute whatever new organization, policies, and control are necessary.
VII. CIVIL DEFENSE
One major element of the national security program which this nation has never squarely faced up to is civil defense. This problem arises not from present trends but from national inaction in which most of us have participated. In the past decade we have intermittently considered a variety of programs, but we have never adopted a consistent policy. Public considerations have been largely characterized by apathy, indifference and skepticism; while, at the same time, many of the civil defense plans have been so far-reaching and unrealistic that they have not gained essential support.
This Administration has been looking hard at exactly what civil defense can and cannot do. It cannot be obtained cheaply. It cannot give an assurance of blast protection that will be proof against surprise attack or guaranteed against obsolescence or destruction. And it cannot deter a nuclear attack.
We will deter an enemy from making a nuclear attack only if our retaliatory power is so strong and so invulnerable that he knows he would be destroyed by our response. If we have that strength, civil defense is not needed to deter an attack. If we should ever lack it, civil defense would not be an adequate substitute.
But this deterrent concept assumes rational calculations by rational men. And the history of this planet, and particularly the history of the 20th century, is sufficient to remind us of the possibilities of an irrational attack, a miscalculation, an accidental war, [or a war of escalation in which the stakes by each side gradually increase to the point of maximum danger] which cannot be either foreseen or deterred. It is on this basis that civil defense can be readily justifiable--as insurance for the civilian population in case of an enemy miscalculation. It is insurance we trust will never be needed--but insurance which we could never forgive ourselves for foregoing in the event of catastrophe.
Once the validity of this concept is recognized, there is no point in delaying the initiation of a nation-wide long-range program of identifying present fallout shelter capacity and providing shelter in new and existing structures. Such a program would protect millions of people against the hazards of radioactive fallout in the event of large-scale nuclear attack. Effective performance of the entire program not only requires new legislative authority and more funds, but also sound organizational arrangements.
Therefore, under the authority vested in me by Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1958, I am assigning responsibility for this program to the top civilian authority already responsible for continental defense, the Secretary of Defense. It is important that this function remain civilian, in nature and leadership; and this feature will not be changed.
The Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization will be reconstituted as a small staff agency to assist in the coordination of these functions. To more accurately describe its role, its title should be changed to the Office of Emergency Planning.
As soon as those newly charged with these responsibilities have prepared new authorization and appropriation requests, such requests will be transmitted to the Congress for a much strengthened Federal-State civil defense program. Such a program will provide Federal funds for identifying fallout shelter capacity in existing, structures, and it will include, where appropriate, incorporation of shelter in Federal buildings, new requirements for shelter in buildings constructed with Federal assistance, and matching grants and other incentives for constructing shelter in State and local and private buildings.
Federal appropriations for civil defense in fiscal 1962 under this program will in all likelihood be more than triple the pending budget requests; and they will increase sharply in subsequent years. Financial participation will also be required from State and local governments and from private citizens. But no insurance is cost-free; and every American citizen and his community must decide for themselves whether this form of survival insurance justifies the expenditure of effort, time and money. For myself, I am convinced that it does.
I cannot end this discussion of defense and armaments without emphasizing our strongest hope: the creation of an orderly world where disarmament will be possible. Our aims do not prepare for war--they are efforts to discourage and resist the adventures of others that could end in war.
That is why it is consistent with these efforts that we continue to press for properly safeguarded disarmament measures. At Geneva, in cooperation with the United Kingdom, we have put forward concrete proposals to make clear our wish to meet the Soviets half way in an effective nuclear test ban treaty--the first significant but essential step on the road towards disarmament. Up to now, their response has not been what we hoped, but Mr. Dean returned last night to Geneva, and we intend to go the last mile in patience to secure this gain if we can.
Meanwhile, we are determined to keep disarmament high on our agenda--to make an intensified effort to develop acceptable political and technical alternatives to the present arms race. To this end I shall send to the Congress a measure to establish a strengthened and enlarged Disarmament Agency.
Finally, if we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny, the dramatic achievements in space which occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to us all, as did the Sputnik in 1957, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere, who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take. Since early in my term, our efforts in space have been under review. With the advice of the Vice President, who is Chairman of the National Space Council, we have examined where we are strong and where we are not, where we may succeed and where we may not. Now it is time to take longer strides--time for a great new American enterprise--time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth.
I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshalled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment.
Recognizing the head start obtained by the Soviets with their large rocket engines, which gives them many months of leadtime, and recognizing the likelihood that they will exploit this lead for some time to come in still more impressive successes, we nevertheless are required to make new efforts on our own. For while we cannot guarantee that we shall one day be first, we can guarantee that any failure to make this effort will make us last. We take an additional risk by making it in full view of the world, but as shown by the feat of astronaut Shepard, this very risk enhances our stature when we are successful. But this is not merely a race. Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others. We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.
I therefore ask the Congress, above and beyond the increases I have earlier requested for space activities, to provide the funds which are needed to meet the following national goals:
First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations--explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon--if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.
Secondly, an additional 23 million dollars, together with 7 million dollars already available, will accelerate development of the Rover nuclear rocket. This gives promise of some day providing a means for even more exciting and ambitious exploration of space, perhaps beyond the moon, perhaps to the very end of the solar system itself.
Third, an additional 50 million dollars will make the most of our present leadership, by accelerating the use of space satellites for world-wide communications.
Fourth, an additional 75 million dollars--of which 53 million dollars is for the Weather Bureau--will help give us at the earliest possible time a satellite system for world-wide weather observation.
Let it be clear--and this is a judgment which the Members of the Congress must finally make--let it be clear that I am asking the Congress and the country to accept a firm commitment to a new course of action, a course which will last for many years and carry very heavy costs: 531 million dollars in fiscal '62--an estimated seven to nine billion dollars additional over the next five years. If we are to go only half way, or reduce our sights in the face of difficulty, in my judgment it would be better not to go at all.
Now this is a choice which this country must make, and I am confident that under the leadership of the Space Committees of the Congress, and the Appropriating Committees, that you will consider the matter carefully.
It is a most important decision that we make as a nation. But all of you have lived through the last four years and have seen the significance of space and the adventures in space, and no one can predict with certainty what the ultimate meaning will be of mastery of space.
I believe we should go to the moon. But I think every citizen of this country as well as the Members of the Congress should consider the matter carefully in making their judgment, to which we have given attention over many weeks and months, because it is a heavy burden, and there is no sense in agreeing or desiring that the United States take an affirmative position in outer space, unless we are prepared to do the work and bear the burdens to make it successful. If we are not, we should decide today and this year.
This decision demands a major national commitment of scientific and technical manpower, materiel and facilities, and the possibility of their diversion from other important activities where they are already thinly spread. It means a degree of dedication, organization and discipline which have not always characterized our research and development efforts. It means we cannot afford undue work stoppages, inflated costs of material or talent, wasteful interagency rivalries, or a high turnover of key personnel.
New objectives and new money cannot solve these problems. They could in fact, aggravate them further--unless every scientist, every engineer, every serviceman, every technician, contractor, and civil servant gives his personal pledge that this nation will move forward, with the full speed of freedom, in the exciting adventure of space.
In conclusion, let me emphasize one point. It is not a pleasure for any President of the United States, as I am sure it was not a pleasure for my predecessors, to come before the Congress and ask for new appropriations which place burdens on our people. I came to this conclusion with some reluctance. But in my judgment, this is a most serious time in the life of our country and in the life of freedom around the globe, and it is the obligation, I believe, of the President of the United States to at least make his recommendations to the Members of the Congress, so that they can reach their own conclusions with that judgment before them. You must decide yourselves, as I have decided, and I am confident that whether you finally decide in the way that I have decided or not, that your judgment--as my judgment--is reached on what is in the best interests of our country.
In conclusion, let me emphasize one point: that we are determined, as a nation in 1961 that freedom shall survive and succeed--and whatever the peril and set-backs, we have some very large advantages.
The first is the simple fact that we are on the side of liberty--and since the beginning of history, and particularly since the end of the Second World War, liberty has been winning out all over the globe.
A second real asset is that we are not alone. We have friends and allies all over the world who share our devotion to freedom. May I cite as a symbol of traditional and effective friendship the great ally I am about to visit--France. I look forward to my visit to France, and to my discussion with a great Captain of the Western World, President de Gaulle, as a meeting of particular significance, permitting the kind of close and ranging consultation that will strengthen both our countries and serve the common purposes of world-wide peace and liberty. Such serious conversations do not require a pale unanimity--they are rather the instruments of trust and understanding over a long road.
A third asset is our desire for peace. It is sincere, and I believe the world knows it. We are proving it in our patience at the test ban table, and
we are proving it in the UN where our efforts have been dire
Establishment and Administration of the Peace Corps in the Department of State
By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Mutual Security Act of 1954, 68 Stat. 832, as amended (22 U.S.C. 1750 etseq.), and as President of the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:
SECTION 1. Establishment of the Peace Corps. The Secretary of State shall establish an agency in the Department of State which shall be known as the Peace Corps.The Peace Corps shall be headed by a Director.
SEC. 2. Functions of the Peace Corps. (a) The Peace Corps shall be responsible for the training and service abroad of men and women of the United States in newprograms of assistance to nations and areas of the world, and in conjunction with or in support of existing economic assistance programs of the United States and of the UnitedNations and other international organizations.
(b) The Secretary of State shall delegate, or cause to be delegated, to the Director of the Peace Corps such of the functionsunder the Mutual Security Act of 1954, as amended, vested in the President and delegated to the Secretary, or vested in the Secretary, as the Secretary shall deem necessary for theaccomplishment of the purposes of the Peace Corps.
SEC. 3. Financing of the Peace Corps. The Secretary of State shall provide for the financing of the Peace Corps with funds available to the Secretary for theperformance of functions under the Mutual Security Act of 1954, as amended.
SEC. 4. Relation to Executive Order No. 10893. This order shall not be deemed to supersede or derogate from any provision ofExecutive Order No. 10893 of November 8, 1960, as amended, and any delegation made by or pursuant to this order shall, unlessotherwise specifically provided therein, be deemed to be in addition to any delegation made by or pursuant to that order.
JOHN F. KENNEDY
THE WHITE HOUSE, March 1, 1961.
I have today signed an Executive Order providing for the establishment of a Peace Corps on a temporary pilot basis. I am also sending to Congress a message proposing authorization of a permanent Peace Corps. This Corps will be a pool of trained American men and women sent overseas by the U.S. Government or through private institutions and organizations to help foreign countries meet their urgent needs for skilled manpower.
It is our hope to have 500 or more people in the field by the end of the year.
The initial reactions to the Peace Corps proposal are convincing proof that we have, in this country, an immense reservoir of such men and women--anxious to sacrifice their energies and time and toil to the cause of world peace and human progress.
In establishing our Peace Corps we intend to make full use of the resources and talents of private institutions and groups. Universities, voluntary agencies, labor unions and industry will be asked to share in this effort--contributing diverse sources of energy and imagination--making it clear that the responsibility for peace is the responsibility of our entire society.
We will only send abroad Americans who are wanted by the host country--who have a real job to do--and who are qualified to do that job. Programs will be developed with care, and after full negotiation, in order to make sure that the Peace Corps is wanted and will contribute to the welfare of other people. Our Peace Corps is not designed as an instrument of diplomacy or propaganda or ideological conflict. It is designed to permit our people to exercise more fully their responsibilities in the great common cause of world development.
Life in the Peace Corps will not be easy. There will be no salary and allowances will be at a level sufficient only to maintain health and meet basic needs. Men and women will be expected to work and live alongside the nationals of the country in which they are stationed--doing the same work, eating the same food, talking the same language.
But if the life will not be easy, it will be rich and satisfying. For every young American who participates in the Peace Corps--who works in a foreign land--will know that he or she is sharing in the great common task of bringing to man that decent way of life which is the foundation of freedom and a condition of peace.
Report to the President on the Peace Corps
From Sargent Shriver
Having studied at your request the problems of establishing Peace Corps, I recommend its immediate establishment.
To find answers to the main question about the Peace Corps I have considered the report to you on this subject by Dr. Max Millikan of M.I.T., a report by Professor Sam Hayes of the University of Michigan, and reports by the Institute of International Education, the National Student Association, and others. I have consulted with Representative Reuss and Senator Humphrey who, with the late Senator Neuberger, were the first champions of Congressional action for a Peace Corps or international youth service. I have studied the report of Dr Maurice Albertson and his colleagues of Colorado State University who, at the direction of Congress, have traveled to Asia, Africa and Latin America surveying specific needs for and responses to this idea. For several weeks I have worked with a ask force drawn from private organizations, the International Cooperation Administration and the White House.
I am satisfied that we have sufficient answers to justify your going ahead. But since the Peace Corps is a new experiment in international cooperation many of the questions considered below will only be finally answered in action, by trial and error. OUr tentative conclusions are therefore submitted as working hypotheses.
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"...An even more valuable national asset is our reservoir of dedicated men and women-not only on our college campuses but in every age group--who have indicated their desire to contribute their skills, their efforts, and a part of their lives to the fight for world order. We can mobilize this talent through the formation of a National Peace Corps, enlisting the services of all those with the desire and capacity to help foreign lands meet their urgent needs for trained personnel...."
[Just two weeks after his speech at the University of MIchigan, Kennedy proposed "a peace corps of talented men and women" who would dedicate themselves to the progress and peace of developing countries.]
"...I therefore propose that our inadequate efforts in this area be supplemented by a peace corps of talented young men and women, willing and able to serve their country in this fashion for 3 years as an alternative or as a supplement to peacetime selective service [applause], well qualified through rigorous standards, well trained in the languages, skills, and customs they will need to know, and directed and paid by the ICA point 4 agencies.
We cannot discontinue training our young men as soldiers of war, but we also want them to be ambassadors of peace. [Applause.] The combat soldiers, like General Gavin, who jumped with his division in northern France, said that no young man today could serve his country with more distinction than in this struggle for peace around the world. [Applause.]
This would be a volunteer corps, and volunteers would be sought among not only talented young men and women, but all Americans, of whatever age, who wished to serve the great Republic and serve the cause of freedom, men who have taught or engineers or doctors or nurses, who have reached the age of retirement, or who in the midst of their work wished to serve their country and freedom, should be given an opportunity and an agency in which their talents could serve our country around the globe. [Applause.]
I am convinced that the pool of people in this country of ours anxious to respond to the public service is greater than it has ever been in our history. I am convinced that our men and women, dedicated to freedom, are able to be missionaries, not only for freedom and peace, but join in a worldwide struggle against poverty and disease and ignorance, diseases in Latin America and Brazil, which prevented any child in two villages in the last 12 months from reaching 1 year of age...."
On October 14, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy spoke to the students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor during a campaign speech and challenged them to live and work in developing countries around the world, thus dedicating themselves to the cause of peace and development. That idea inspired the beginning of the Peace Corps.
Hubert H. Humphrey’s first Peace Corps bill Hubert Humphrey first proposed the Peace Corps in 1960. Later, as Majority Whip of the Senate, he proudly led the Senate fight to enact the program which President John F. Kennedy proposed. He was chairman of the Peace Corps Advisory Council. While President John F. Kennedy gets credit for creating the Peace Corps, the first initiative came from Humphrey when he introduced the first bill to create the Peace Corps in 1957—three years prior to JFK and his University of Michigan speech. In his autobiography, The Education of a Public Man, Humphrey wrote: "There were three bills of particular emotional importance to me: the Peace Corps, a disarmament agency, and the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The President, knowing how I felt, asked me to introduce legislation for all three. I introduced the first Peace Corps bill in 1957. It did not meet with much enthusiasm. Some traditional diplomats quaked at the thought of thousands of young Americans scattered across their world. Many senators, including liberal ones, thought the idea was silly and unworkable. Now, with a young president urging its passage, it became possible and we pushed it rapidly through the Senate. It is fashionable now to suggest that Peace Corps Volunteers gained as much or more, from their experience as the countries they worked. That may be true, but it ought not demean their work. They touched many lives and made them better.” Humphrey, Hubert H. 1976 The education of a public man : my life and politics / Hubert H. Humphrey ; edited by Norman Sherman Doubleday, Garden City, N.Y.