[The Peace Corps has taken the position that they want the world to celebrate the 50 years of the agency, (not them!) and has sent money to Regional Recruitment Offices within the U.S. to plan 'activities,' and they have sent funds overseas so host countries can have local events honoring the service of PCVs. All of this is well and good. I support it.

I also support--firmly!-- events in Washington, D.C. next fall that will focal on the 200,000+ who have served as Peace Corps Volunteers. I have never heard of any organization, agency, company city, town, or village that doesn't rally around the flag and pay tribute to their own. If the Peace Corps wants to "own" their agency, they better brand it!

With that in mind, I have had several conversations with the woman in charge of the 50th for the Peace Corps, the charming and delightful Carrie Hessler-Radelet (Western Samoa 1981-83) the new Deputy Director of the Peace Corps. I gave Carrie my initial ideas for the Anniversary and we are beginning to see if any or all are possible.

The Washington, D.C. Peace Corps group is planning a walk across Memorial Bridge as well as service to remember those who died in service at the Arlngton National Cemetery Ampitheatre. There will be no tent on the Mall as there was at the 25th (too expensive, I'm told, by the Peace Corps. Remember how they gave all that money away).

Ken Hill (Turkey 1965-67) is organizing a Staff Reunion for former staff. The NPCA also is planning a gala one evening on the weekend in September, and they are inviting everyone. With only 2,000 members, however, out of the 200,000+ possible membership, there is not much planning that they can afford to do, but they are doing their best. Thanks you, NPCA!

There are, of course, dozens and dozens of other country-of-service reunions being planned as well as country updates, and embassy receptions, all in D.C., all having nothing to do with the Peace Corps. My guess is that D.C. can expect about 10,000+ RPCVs to return to D.C. next September. 

Now, I am asking all of you to write the Deputy Director, Carrie Hessler-Radelet, and fill Carrie email with your ouw great ideas for the 50th. (Also, if  you don't mine, send a comment to this website).

The best way to reach Carrie is to write her assistant Dan Westerhof (Paraguay 1982-86). His email is dwesterhof@peacecorps.gov. If you don't know by now, Directors and Deputy Directors of the Peace Corps never read their emails!

Here, in no particular order, are some of the special events I suggested to Carrie  for the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps.]

Peace Corps Possible Projects

National GeographicMagazine hosts a display (in their lobby) of photos taken by RPCVs. There is a wealth of such photos. Since 1988, the Madison, Wisconsin RPCVshave produced their annual calendar withits spectacular pictures. That would be a great source and that group might work with NatGeo. What would have to be done is to have the Association on their own stage this event.

A plaque on the site of the original building at 806 Conn. Various people have suggested this idea in years past, and I have spoken to people like Maureen Carroll and Bob Arias about it, both of whom worked in the building as newly returned RPCVs. If HQ could make the arrangements, the ceremony could be turned over to some RPCVs in D.C. to make it happen.

A reading for 24/48 hours in the Rotunda of the Capital. Again this would have to be arranged by HQ. The scheduling would not be a nightmare of organizing if a spread sheet was set up on the 50th Anniversary page where people could sign up ‘on their own.’ This event organized by Tim Carroll (Nigeria 1963-65) on the 25th anniversary of JFK’s was a stunning reminder of Kennedy’s legacy, the Peace Corps.

A craft fair on the Mall. This idea was suggested by Tom Hebert (Nigeria 1962-64). I am told that the Peace Corps is having a booth during the weekend of the Folk Life Festival. What if the Peace Corps puts out a call to RPCVs to donate and ship to D.C. one of the artifacts from their personal collection which would be sold on the Mall? The profits for that could go to School-to-School. Perhaps the artifacts could be collected by individual groups, draw them into the process, and have these groups take responsibility of getting the artifacts to D.C.

A picnic on the White House Lawn for RPCVs on Sunday afternoon after the Memorial Service. Such an event would tie by to JFK meeting the first Volunteers in 1961 and sending them off to Latin America and Africa. A visit there by the First Family.

C-SPAN interviews with writers from the Peace Corps. A round table discussion. This could be featured on their book week end reports.

A reception at the Library of Congress for everyone who has written a book about their experiences. The ‘ticket’ for the event would be a book autographed and given to the Library to create a special Peace Corps Collection. This notion of having a Peace Corps collection in the Library of Congress was first suggested to me by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975-77).

Oral History from Peace Corps Volunteers. I know the Peace Corps is doing this now and I’d suggest that HQ set up a ‘booth’ (within the Peace Corps, first floor) and arrange times (again on the computer) for people to ‘drop in’ and tell their Peace Corps story. I know from experience that all RPCVs have one or two paragraphs that sum up their experience, what they remember, what has been always important to them. Individual stories last about 5-10 minutes. This would be a rare opportunity for RPCVs and the Peace Corp to claim our history in an oral tradition.

Other event

  • State Department Reception.
  • A Gathering at the Reagan Center with a major speaker by the President of the United States or the President of one of our countries of services. (This was Carrie’s idea! And a great one!)