Peace Corps Celebrates 45 Years of Service

February 27, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 27, 2006 Honoring the first groups to begin service in Ghana and Tanganyika to the most recent group on its way to Uganda and everyone in between, the Peace Corps kicks off a 45th anniversary celebration on March 1 to celebrate the legacy of service at home and abroad.

"Forty-five years ago, President John F. Kennedy called on Americans to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries," said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. "From the coast of Madagascar to the jungles of Costa Rica, Peace Corps volunteers have built real bridges of friendship in 138 countries over the decades through thousands of remarkable projects and legacies."

The 45th anniversary commemoration continues throughout the year with events all across the country and around the world, including one on Capitol Hill to honor those in public service and one in Boston to present the first ever Kennedy Service Awards. To learn what events are taking place in your region or to see more information on the 45th anniversary, please visit: www.peacecorps.gov/45

To accomplish the Peace Corps' mission of promoting friendship and world peace, the number of volunteers in the field today is at a 30-year high with 7,810 volunteers serving overseas. Volunteers in 75 countries work in the areas of education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture.

"Serving as public diplomats, volunteers continue to change the world helping to break down barriers while establishing sustainable development. As international partnership and commerce blur borders, merging economies and ideas, the role and reach of the Peace Corps have never been more critical," said Director Vasquez.

Highlights of the 45th anniversary celebration:

  • A March 1 celebration on Capitol Hill will be the first official event to mark the agency's 45th anniversary. The Peace Corps will give special recognition to returned volunteers in Congress and retiring congressional committee chairmen, in addition to honoring returned Peace Corps volunteers who have dedicated their lives to public service.

  • The Kennedy Service Awards will be presented on March 4 at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. Two current volunteers, two returned volunteers, and two Peace Corps staff members will be recognized for their contributions to the global community. The Kennedy Service Awards are presented every five years.

  • Peace Corps' commitment to making a difference can be seen visually in the agency's new 45th anniversary video, which shows elements of Peace Corps history from inception to today. The film can be downloaded on the Peace Corps Web site beginning March 1.

  • A Life Inspired, a compilation of volunteer stories, will be released to the public for the first time on March 1. The book can be purchased on the Government Printing Office's Web site at bookstore.gpo.gov. It can also be borrowed from local libraries or found at local recruitment events.

  • President George W. Bush will mark the anniversary by issuing a presidential message to those in the Peace Corps community.

  • Throughout the week of February 27 March 4, interactive telephone presentations will be arranged between currently serving Peace Corps volunteers and schools in the U.S.

  • Between February and June, the Peace Corps' Office of Private Sector Initiatives will be honoring schools across the country for their support in raising money for volunteer sponsored projects.

  • Open houses and events are occurring throughout the country over the next few months, marking the occasion with local notable returned volunteers.

    The Peace Corps is celebrating a 45-year legacy of service at home and abroad, and a 30-year high for volunteers in is celebrating a 45-year legacy of service at home and abroad, and a 30-year high for volunteers in the field. Since 1961, more than 182,000 volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 138 countries where volunteers have served. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.

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