The Peace Corps Gets Vaccinated, Part 9

In a memorandum to Sargent Shriver–attached to an Evaluation Report on Morocco (1963) done by Ken Love–and written by the legendary early Peace Corps Director of Evaluations, Charlie Peters, Charlie wrote, “Marjorie was as sensitive and as intelligent a Volunteer as we ever had in the Peace Corps.” The lesson that was learned by the Peace Corps was that “even the best young people can be damned silly at times.”

According to Gerard T. Rice in the first serious study of the agency and its creation entitled, The Bold Experiment: JFK’s Peace Corps, “The President’s personal support helped the Peace Corps weather its first storm.” Kennedy hand written note to Michaelmore said, “We are strongly behind you and hope you will continue to serve in the Peace Corps.”

At the Peace Corps HQ the feeling was that the agency had weathered this early storm. Warren Wiggins would write, “The greatest thing that could have happened to the Peace Corps in the beginning with a postcard from a Volunteer mentioning that people pee in the streets in Nigeria. It was like a vaccination…..Never again would a major newspaper, under the worst of conditions, streamed anything negative about the Peace Corps. Since then, the Peace Corps has had rape, manslaughter, bigamy, disappearances, Volunteers going insane, meddling in locaL politics, being eaten by crocodiles, but never again did it get a bad play in national news. The vaccination took; we were immune.”

The PCVs stayed and the Peace Corps program continued and grew in Nigeria. As for Marjorie? Well, early in ’62 she left the Peace Corps and married her Boston lawyer.

Several years ago I located Marjorie via an email address and asked her if wanted to write her account for our website. Marjorie wrote back saying, ‘thanks, but no.’

Today, Marjorie Michaelmore is 72 years old.

Time flies.

[Part 9]

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  • While doing research for a Peace Corps Chronology, I found this intriguing speech by Shriver in 2001. Here’s a great quote: “I’m not defending the old Peace Corps,” said Sargent Shriver during a speech at Yale University, “I’m attacking it! We didn’t go far enough! …We never really gave the goal of ‘World Wide Peace’ an overwhelming commitment.” He went on to suggest a new 4th goal; to bind all human beings together in a common cause to assure peace and survival for all.

  • Lorenzo, The so-called Fourth Goal was a topic of heated debate on Peace Corps Online among other places. There was legislation pending back in 2002 which wouold have funded programs modeled after the so-called Fourth Goal. It died in committee after the Republicans won both houses of Congress in November of that year.

  • Fourth Goal. I led the effort by Ethiopia and Eritean RPCVs to help bring an end to the brutal war between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 1998-2000, an effort that was recognized and honored by the United States Institute for Peace and the National Peace Corps Association. Based on that experience I formed the “Peace Committee” in the NPCA. The objective was to encourage and support other RPCV groups to foster peaceful resolution of wars and strife in their countries of service. Unfortunately the NPCA considered promoting peaceful resolution of conflicts as too far a streach for its resources. Furthermore, it believed that there were sufficient other organizations with far better resources available to do this job. I would be happy to assist any RPCV group that seeks to help bring peace to its country of service, as I did with the Friends of Nepal.

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