“On this anniversary, we honor the men and women from across the country who have carried forward our Nation's finest tradition of service, and we rededicate ourselves to fulfilling the dream and continuing the work of all those who aspire and yearn for peace.”
–President Barack Obama
–President Barack Obama
On March 1st, 2011, President Obama officially proclaimed the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps and called on Americans to celebrate the contributions of Peace Corps Volunteers past and present.
From the spark of an idea of service first introduced by John F. Kennedy during his presidential campaign, Peace Corps has worked with communities around the world through the service of more than 200,000 Americans. Nearly all 50 states have proclaimed March as Peace Corps Month.
During his inaugural address nearly half a century ago, President John F. Kennedy (D, 1961-63) implored Americans to "ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." But while the Kennedy administration and many other presidential administrations worked to promote national service during subsequent decades, does Kennedy's message continue to resonate with the American public?
Peace Corps places volunteers in foreign countries to help local people. The Peace Corps was one of the signature innovations of President Kennedy, who envisioned it as both an aid program and a way for the U.S. to spread its values to people in other countries.
The Peace Corps has roughly 8,000 volunteers in countries throughout the world, performing tasks that range from teaching children to developing local businesses to promoting awareness of AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) and providing medical care. Each Peace Corps worker is placed in a country for a two-year duration and is given a small living allowance instead of a salary. As a part of their training, Peace Corps volunteers are taught the languages of the areas in which they are stationed.
Blaustein, Arthur. Make a Difference: Your Guide to Volunteering and Community Service. Berkeley, Calif.: Heyday Books, 2002.
Dionne Jr., E.J., Kayla Meltzer Drogosz and Robert Litan, eds. United We Serve: National Service and the Future of Citizenship. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2003.
Hoffman, Elizabeth. All You Need Is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960s. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998.