March 1, 2013
PEACE CORPS CREATED BY JFK 52 YEARS AGO TODAY
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order #10924 52 years ago today, on March 1, 1961, creating the Peace Corps.
Official Peace Corps Logo
Although a proposal had been introduced by Senator Hubert Humphrey (D) Minnesota in 1957, Senator John F. Kennedy first spoke of a "peace corps" at the University of Michigan during his presidential campaign on November 1, 1960.
JFK saw the corps as both a means of giving young Americans the opportunity to answer his inaugural call to service "...ask what you can do for your country" & to counter anti-American viewpoints around the world.
Congress authorized the Peace Corps on September 22, 1961 & within 2 years the organization had 7300 volunteers serving in 44 nations around the globe.
The 1st group of Peace Corps volunteers went to Ghana & Tanzania.
Since 1961, the PC has sent more than 210,000 American citizens to 139 countries.
JFK greets Peace Corps volunteers
Photo by Abbie Rowe (1961)
National Archives image
JFK appointed Sargent Shriver* as the 1st director of the Peace Corps.
*R. Sargent Shriver (1915-2011) was born in Westminster, Maryland & graduated from Yale where he also received his law degree in 1941. He served in the US Navy in WWII & earned the Purple Heart at Guadalcanal.
Sarge was hired by Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. to manage Chicago's Merchandise Mart & served as Peace Corps director from 1961-1966.
He married JFK's sister, Eunice & died at the age of 95 in Bethesda, MD.
Sargent Shriver & JFK
West Wing at the White House
August 28, 1961
Photo by Abbie Rowe