The Peace Corps Celebrates the Legacy of President John F. Kennedy on the Upcoming Centennial of His Birth


WASHINGTON, D.C., April 28, 2017 – In honor of President John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday on May 29, the Peace Corps celebrates the legacy of the president who inspired generations of Americans to serve abroad. In the fall of 1960, then-Senator Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country by helping those in need. President Kennedy’s idea led to a bold new experiment in public service and the establishment of the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961.

“I remember when JFK talked about the Peace Corps and of setting it up. I was in 5th grade. I was drawn to the possibility of serving my country,” said Paul Rodkey, 65, a current volunteer in Botswana. “As my wife and I began to make plans for retirement the idea of serving in the Peace Corps became a strong draw again.  We made the decision to apply and felt great joy when we did.”

While the Peace Corps has changed with the times over its 56-year history, the agency’s mission—to promote world peace and friendship—remains the same. The Peace Corps is committed to recruiting dedicated Americans who believe in the power of one person to make a difference. More than a half a century after its establishment, the Peace Corps demonstrates how the power of an idea can capture the imagination of an entire nation and change the lives of people in the United States and around the world for generations to come.

“I applied to Peace Corps because I knew firsthand the power of Peace Corps and how the work volunteers are doing now can help generations later. My parents are Liberian immigrants who came to the United States to pursue higher education,” said Nyassa Kollie, a current volunteer in Malawi. “They have credited their love for knowledge and learning to Peace Corps volunteers in Liberia who taught them during very formative years of their lives.”

Since 1961, more than 225,000 Americans of all ages have responded to Kennedy’s call to serve and have helped communities in 141 countries around the world. 

About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends Americans with a passion for service abroad on behalf of the United States to work with communities and create lasting change. Volunteers develop sustainable solutions to address challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their Peace Corps experience, Volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today's global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 225,000 Americans of all ages have served in 141 countries worldwide. For more information, visit peacecorps.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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