nobelprize2011 will be the year that the US Peace Corps wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

As Jay Nordinger writes in National Review “the Norwegian Nobel Committee has given quite a few anniversary awards. In 1963, it honored the Red Cross on its hundredth anniversary. In 1969, it honored the International Labour Organization on its 50th. In 1981, it honored the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees on its 30th. In 1995, it honored anti-nuclear activists - Joseph Rotblat and the Pugwash Conferences - on the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Japan, and the 40th anniversary of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto (the grand anti-nuclear declaration of the age).” So 2011, the Peace Corps’ fiftieth anniversary, will be the year that the peace corps community wins the Nobel Peace Prize.


The Nomination

The nomination, which was due on February 1, has already been made. RPCV Congressmen Tom Petri and Sam Farr joined together to send a letter nominating the Peace Corps for the Prize and the bipartisan letter was ultimately signed by 138 members, making up more than a quarter of the House of Representatives.

“As a former volunteer, I know firsthand the important role the Peace Corps plays in assisting the people of less developed countries to get an education, improve agricultural and business practices and more,” said Petri. “The heart and soul of the Peace Corps are the volunteers, mostly young, who commit themselves to service in unfamiliar cultures, far removed from many modern comforts and conveniences. Through their experiences they get as much as they give, but the challenges they face make clear that they are engaged in service to people – it’s far more than just a job. The Peace Corps deserves greater recognition, especially for the service work performed by its volunteers.”

As established by Alfred Nobel, the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to the person or entity that, “shall have done the most or then best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding of peace congresses.” According to conservative commentator Nordinger “The U.S. Peace Corps meets Nobel’s criterion of “fraternity between nations” very nicely. The agency has three stated goals: to help the nations served; to promote a better understanding of Americans; and to promote a better understanding, by Americans, of other peoples. Few contend that the Corps has failed in the meeting of those goals.”


jackvaughnandleftieBi-partisan Support

Some may think it strange that the conservative National Review is supporting the Peace Corps nomination but Jack Vaughn, the second Director of the Peace Corps, recounts an interesting anecdote from the 1960’s. “It came after a senior staff meeting to which I had invited Republican senatorial icon Barry Goldwater,” Vaughn wrote in an op-ed for the Tuscon Citizen in 2008. “After serious questioning on what Kennedy’s new agency was all about, Arizona’s Goldwater swore that the Peace Corps embodied virtually every one of the most noble aspects and values of the Republican Party.”

If the Peace Corps does receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, then with Sarge gone, there is no better man than the second Director of the Peace Corps, Jack Vaughn, who at 90 years of age is still as strong and vital as ever, to accept the prize on behalf of the Staff and RPCVs of the “greatest generation” who worked in the 1960’s to make the Peace Corps what it is today.


Photo 1: The Nobel Peace Prize

Photo 2: Jack Vaughn, successor to Sargent Shriver as Director of the Peace Corps, with his wife of forty years, Chad RPCV “Leftie” Vaughn.

Vaughn directed the Peace Corps from 1966 to 1969 after stints as a professional boxer, boxing coach and U.S. Marine in World War II combat. Vaughn was also ambassador to Panama and Colombia, president of Planned Parenthood and an assistant secretary of state.