Opinion: Supporting Key Values: Service, Peace, Sacrifice

Opinion: Supporting Key Values: Service, Peace, Sacrifice

60th Anniversary of the Peace Corps

Sept. 22 was the 60th anniversary of the Peace Corps, the day that President John F. Kennedy signed into law legislation creating the agency. With one stroke of a pen President Kennedy deepened our nation’s ability to live out key values — values like service, peace, sacrifice, commitment, and learning from those we hope to serve. I am proud to be one of more than 8,315 Virginians who have served in the Peace Corps, joining more than 240,000 nationwide over these last 60 years. 

I entered the Peace Corps in 1967 hoping to help others. However, I left enriched and grateful for what I had learned from the many Koreans I had come to serve. Due to a housing shortage, volunteers in Korea were assigned to live with families. This became an exchange for me as

the youngest daughter lived with my parents in Oregon for a year on her

way to graduate work.

Because of the pandemic, Peace Corps will observe the 60th anniversary

without Peace Corps Volunteers in the field. But returned volunteers have continued with Kennedy’s dream by being engaged in many projects.

For the fifth time, Northern Virginia Volunteers have a booth at the Reston International Festival. This same group of people do a quarterly trail clean up in Reston. President Kennedy rightly understood the need for returned volunteers to be active in serving their communities.

Many volunteers selected careers in international work from the State Department to business and international organizations. Others returned

to the states to become involved indirectly in international activities. 

Over the last 60 years, nearly a quarter of a million Peace Corps volunteers have made a tremendous contribution to the individuals and communities in which they served, and to our planet. We are fortunate that our local Representatives [Connolly, Wexton, and Beyer] and U.S. Senators [Warner and Kaine] have supported increased funding for Peace Corps. Peace Corps has had a lasting influence not only on the countries and peoples it serves but has had a major impact on the ways returned volunteers have participated in our communities.

Don Boileau served Peace Corps from 1967-1969 in South Korea and is a

George Mason University Emeritus Professor. He is a member of the

Northern Virginia Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, and lives in Reston.