Little Bits of History

Peace Corps

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 1, 2010

Peace Corps

March 1, 1961: R. Sargent Shriver gives his report to President Kennedy and the Peace Corps is established with Shriver as its first director. President Kennedy made establishing the Peace Corps one of his first missions as the new leader of the US. He commissioned Shriver, his brother-in-law, to convene a task force to see how best to organize this new agency of the Department of State. While Kennedy is credited with creating the Peace Corps, the initiative came from Senator Hubert H. Humphrey from Minnesota. Humphrey introduced the bill in 1957.

This was not an entirely new concept. Since the end of the Second World War, there were proposals in Congress to set up an “army” of “missionaries of democracy” to assist the peoples of the Third World nations. Privately funded, non-religious volunteers were assisting the underprivileged since the 1950s.

On September 22, 1961 the Peace Corps Act was passed. By that time the first group of volunteers were already in Ghana and Tanzania. More than 40 nations had begun requesting volunteers. Today, the Peace Corps sends volunteers around the globe to more than 70 countries. There, these devoted people work with governments, schools, non-profit and/or non-government organizations and entrepreneurs. They help with education, business, information technology, agriculture, and environmental issues.

The Peace Corps mission statement, is: 1) Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their needs for trained men and women. 2) Helping to promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served. and 3) Helping to promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of all Americans. To date, there have been 182,000 volunteers working in 138 countries. The current number of volunteers and trainees is 7,810. Aaron S. Williams in the current and eighteenth Director, sworn in on August 24, 2009. He is the fourth Director who once served as a volunteer for the Peach Corps.

“The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.” – Author Unknown

“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” – Sam Ewing

“They have done impossible things in impossible places. I think it’s a great use of that altruism that is built into the Peace Corps. These are people who want to give of themselves.” – James Walsh

Also on this day, in 589 St. David of Wales died.

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