Thursday, March 24, 2011

United States Peace Corps 50th Anniversary

Rep Nakashima and Luke with 50th Anniversary Peace Corps representatives
Kiyoshi Hamakawa, Corie Tanida, Mary Matayoshi, Philip Olsen and Kimberly Biggs
"Fifty years ago this month, having won the war and secured the peace almost a generation prior, American youth coming of age were full of optimism, hope, exploration, experimentation and love. In this charged climate on the steps of the Michigan Union, a bold new experiment in public service was launched. The assembled students heard the future President of the United States issue a challenge: how many of them, John Kennedy asked, would be willing to serve their country and the cause of peace by living and working in the developing world?

Following his election, President John F. Kennedy in March, 1961, signed an Executive Order establishing the Peace Corps, forever changing the way America sees the world and the world sees us. Today, one of President Kennedy's most enduring legacies can be found in the over 200,000 current and returned Peace Corps Volunteers and the people of 139 host countries. March is Peace Corp Month and on this 50th anniversary, the United States Peace Corps remains an enduring symbol of our Nation's commitment to encouraging progress, creating opportunity, and fostering mutual respect and understanding throughout the world.

In Hawaii, the Hilo College Center for Cross-Cultural Training and Research designed one of the first Peace Corp training centers, with its field station in Waipi‘o Valley. In the valley, trainees spent one to three weeks experiencing the challenges of rustic living and became immersed in the cultures they would serve. The rest of their training occurred in the many plantation camps that dotted the Hamakua Coast -- Pepeekeo, Honomu, and Honohina among them.

On this anniversary, we honor the men and women from across the country who have carried forward our Nation's finest tradition of service, and we rededicate ourselves to fulfilling the dream and continuing the work of all those who aspire and yearn for peace."

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