Archive - March 18, 2009

1
Establishing The Peace Corps:Naming the Movement,Part 3
2
Afghanistan In….Peace Corps Out
3
Hessler Speaking in Santa Fe
4
Establishing the Peace Corps, Part 2
5
The Peace Corps: Executive Order 10924

Establishing The Peace Corps:Naming the Movement,Part 3

Those of us who follow the history of the Peace Corps agency know the term “peace corps” came to public attention during the 1960 presidential election. In one of JFK’s last major speeches before the November election he called for the creation of a “Peace Corps” to send volunteers to work at the grass roots level in the developing world.      However, the question remains: who said (or wrote) “peace corps” for the very first time? Was it Kennedy? Was it his famous speech writer Ted Sorensen? Or Sarge himself? But – as in most situations – the famous term came about because of some young kid, usually a writer, working quietly away in some back office that dreams up the language. In this case the kid was a graduate student between degrees who was working for the late senator Hubert Horatio Humphrey.      Today, forty-five plus years after the . . .

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Afghanistan In….Peace Corps Out

The breaking news this afternoon is that the U.S. is planning to send hundreds of additional diplomats and civilian officials to Afghanistan…all part of the new post-Bush “civil-military” regional strategy that President Obama security advisers have scripted and now waits the president’s signature. Okay, where are the “hundreds, if not thousands” of additional Peace Corps Volunteers that Candidate Obama promised to send overseas as soon as he got elected? Remember, President Obama, you said you would double the number of PCVs to 16,000. Well, if the current cuts to the agency hold, based on the Omnibus Bill for 2009, the Peace Corps will eliminate 500 positions, dropping the number of new PCVs below 3,500. This is at a time when 22 + nations–including Indonesia, Sierra Leone, and Colombia–are asking for Volunteers.   President Obama, the Peace Corps isn’t just a scribbled name in the margin of some paper on regional strategy . . .

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Hessler Speaking in Santa Fe

Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) author of River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze, and a writer for The New Yorker, will be talking about “Writing in China” on Friday, March 20, at an anthropology conference in Santa Fe.  He will be speaking at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. Peter is scheduled for a session that begins at noon on Friday in the Sweeney Room of the Center. The session is open to the public. When you get to the Convention Center ask directions at the Registration Desk in the Lobby.  And try and hang around and say hello to Peter, tell him you’re also an RPCV.

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Establishing the Peace Corps, Part 2

Let me start with a quote from Gerard T. Rice’s book, The Bold Experiment: JFK’s Peace Corps:  “In 1961 John F. Kennedy took two risky and conflicting initiatives in the Third World. One was to send five hundred additional military advisers into South Vietnam; by 1963 there would be seventeen thousand such advisers. The other was to send five hundred young Americans to teach in the schools and work in the fields of eight developing countries. These were Peace Corps Volunteers. By 1963 there would be seven thousand of them in forty-four countries.”      Vietnam scarred the American psyche, leaving memories of pain and defeat. But Kennedy’s other initiative inspired, and continued to inspire, hope and understanding among Americans and the rest of the world. In that sense, the Peace Corps was his most affirmative and enduring legacy.      Gerry Rice, in The Bold Experiment: JFK’s Peace Corps, points out that the . . .

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The Peace Corps: Executive Order 10924

Over the next few months I’m going to post accounts of some of the significant moments in early Peace Corps history for anyone curious about how the agency was established, as I’m always surprised as how little current PCVs know about the history of the agency. Here to begin is the document that launched the Peace Corps. In future blogs I’ll tell you how this Executive Order 10924 came about, and what happened at the Mayflower Hotel in the winter of 1961. 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 et seq.), 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 . . .

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