Peace Corps Advisory: Peace Corps Marks 50 Years of Service on March 1
February 18, 2011WHAT: March 1, 2011, marks the 50th anniversary of President Kennedys signing of an executive order creating the Peace Corps. Today, over 200,000 Americans have served as Peace Corps volunteers in 139 host countries.
Background information March 1, 1961: Only weeks after being sworn in, President Kennedy signed the executive order establishing Peace Corps on a temporary, pilot basis." President Kennedy announced the signing of the executive order and the formation of the Peace Corps at a national press conference.
Click here for audio of President Kennedy signing the executive order creating the Peace Corps.
Click here for video of President Kennedy signing the executive order creating the Peace Corps.
Compilation footage of 50 years of Peace Corps service, from 1961 through 2011, is also available upon request.
*Both audio and video available in broadcast quality.
TRANSCRIPT OF PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY SIGNING THE EXECUTIVE ORDER ESTABLISHING THE PEACE CORPS:
I have today signed an Executive Order providing for the establishment of a Peace Corps on a temporary pilot basis. I am also sending to Congress a message proposing authorization of a permanent Peace Corps. This Corps will be a pool of trained American men and women sent overseas by the U.S. Government or through private institutions and organizations to help foreign countries meet their urgent needs for skilled manpower.
It is our hope to have 500 or more people in the field by the end of the year.
The initial reactions to the Peace Corps proposal are convincing proof that we have, in this country, an immense reservoir of such men and womenanxious to sacrifice their energies and time and toil to the cause of world peace and human progress.
In establishing our Peace Corps we intend to make full use of the resources and talents of private institutions and groups. Universities, voluntary agencies, labor unions and industry will be asked to share in this effortcontributing diverse sources of energy and imaginationmaking it clear that the responsibility for peace is the responsibility of our entire society.
We will only send abroad Americans who are wanted by the host countrywho have a real job to doand who are qualified to do that job. Programs will be developed with care, and after full negotiation, in order to make sure that the Peace Corps is wanted and will contribute to the welfare of other people. Our Peace Corps is not designed as an instrument of diplomacy or propaganda or ideological conflict. It is designed to permit our people to exercise more fully their responsibilities in the great common cause of world development.
Life in the Peace Corps will not be easy. There will be no salary and allowances will be at a level sufficient only to maintain health and meet basic needs. Men and women will be expected to work and live alongside the nationals of the country in which they are stationeddoing the same work, eating the same food, talking the same language.
But if the life will not be easy, it will be rich and satisfying. For every young American who participates in the Peace Corpswho works in a foreign landwill know that he or she is sharing in the great common task of bringing to man that decent way of life which is the foundation of freedom and a condition of peace.
About the Peace Corps: President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961, by executive order. Throughout 2011, Peace Corps is commemorating 50 years of promoting peace and friendship around the world. Historically, more than 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Today, 8,655 volunteers are working with local communities in 77 host countries. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.