News / USA

Peace Corps Among President Kennedy's Lasting Achievements

Peace Corps Among President Kennedy's Lasting Achievementsi
X
November 19, 2013 10:11 PM
Friday, November 22, will mark 50 years since the assassination of President John Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. The anniversary has sparked discussion and reflection about Kennedy’s achievements while in office and his presidential legacy. One of his more notable accomplishments was creation of the Peace Corps, a volunteer force of mainly young Americans who have served in developing nations for decades. VOA correspondent Jim Malone looks at John Kennedy’s central role in the formation of the Peace Corps.

Peace Corps Among President Kennedy's Lasting Achievements

— Friday, November 22, will mark 50 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas.  The anniversary has sparked discussion and reflection about Kennedy’s achievements while in office and his presidential legacy. 

One of the president's more notable accomplishments was creation of the Peace Corps, a volunteer force of mainly young Americans who have served in developing nations for decades. 

On January 20, 1961, Kennedy said, “And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country.”

The president’s call to service during his inaugural address set the stage for one of his lasting achievements - the creation of the Peace Corps.

The concept was the result of a late-night campaign stop by then-candidate Kennedy in October of 1960 at the University of Michigan.

Young Americans quickly embraced the idea of delaying their own careers to work in developing countries.

Creating the Peace Corps was one of the new president’s top priorities.

“Putting that together was one of the great experiences of my own life.  And Kennedy wanted action," said Sen. Harris Wofford, a former Kennedy advisor. "He wanted us to move and we had the plan of the Peace Corps within the first six weeks.”

Kennedy hosted the first group of volunteers at the White House before they left for Africa.

“The fact that you are willing to do this for our country and in the larger sense, as the name suggests, for the cause of peace and understanding, I think should make all Americans proud and make them appreciative,” he said.

Those early volunteers entered the Peace Corps with a sense of adventure and determination, and among them was Barbara Kamara.

“Going to Liberia as a Peace Corps volunteer was a life-changing experience for me," she said. " I learned that I could just endure, that you start something and no matter what the challenges were, to do it.  I could keep doing it until it was completed.”

50 years later, what remains is a sense of pride and accomplishment.

“When I look back on the great things that Peace Corps volunteers did, the many lives they impacted," said Kamara. "I mean, the vice president of Liberia today gives tribute to his Peace Corps teacher for contributing to his ability to serve in that position as vice president.”

For most volunteers, Peace Corps was a life-changing experience.

“When I think back on President Kennedy and creating the Peace Corps, I would say it is probably one of the most significant things that he did as president," Kamara added.  "Would I recommend the Peace Corps to other people?  Absolutely.  If I had my way, I think every young person who is in high school should have an international experience.”

The creation of the Peace Corps remains an important part of John Kennedy’s legacy, says Harris Wofford.

“Around the world, people thought, here is the America we’ve been believing in or hoping for, young, optimistic, can-do," he said. "That’s the America that we’ve read about, we’ve thought about, we’ve hoped for, and here he was bringing it about.”

Since 1961, more than 200,000 Americans have served in the Peace Corps in 139 host countries around the world.

You May Like

As AIDS Epidemic Matures, Workplaces Adapt

Issue of AIDS in workplace is one of many social issues being discussed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia More

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid