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Public Papers - 1991 - March

Remarks on Signing the Proclamation Commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the Peace Corps

1991-03-01

We've got all the suspects lined up here. Thank you very much. [Laughter]

Listen, please be seated. And welcome to the White House, a very special ceremony. And it's great to see so many familiar faces and distinguished former Directors of the Peace Corps, including especially the founding Director, Sarge Shriver. I'm also delighted to see the representatives from the Congress -- Senator Pell; Senator Lugar; Congressman Broomfield; my old friend, Jim Leach -- an especially warm welcome to you.

It's our pleasure, all of ours, to be here today to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Peace Corps. I'm very proud to have standing at my side our very able Director, Paul Coverdell.

The Peace Corps has come a long way and expanded a great deal in its proud history. Today the volunteers come from a more diverse population of Americans than ever before, and they're reaching out to an ever-widening circle of countries.

The Peace Corps has long had three important goals. First, to help the people of host countries meet their needs for skilled men and women. Second, to help promote abroad a better understanding of our country -- of America. And third, to promote a better understanding by Americans of other peoples throughout the world.

And it has been exciting to watch as our volunteers, our ever-dedicated volunteers, continue to provide important training and skills in 73 countries that we are currently serving. And that is, incidentally, the highest number of countries that the Peace Corps has ever been active in at one time. It's particularly rewarding to note that the programs have been established in 19 new countries since the beginning of our administration, and I understand that number may reach as high as 30 by the end of 1992. In fact, the first set of volunteers will leave to begin their work in Romania just next week.

I'm pleased to have with us today Ed Pizack, Chairman of the Liberty Bell Foundation; several of his colleagues. Because of the Liberty Bell Foundation's great generosity and effort, the Peace Corps will be able to send an additional 60 volunteers to Poland to teach English. What an historic example of a successful public-private partnership.

In recent times, our second goal of helping to promote understanding of Americans abroad has been particularly important. Peace Corps volunteers have, and will, continue to promote a better understanding of the American people in the countries in which they serve. I've seen them in action many, many times -- and as everybody in this room has -- and it is inspiring.

I'm also very proud of the Peace Corps efforts of their equally important, yet probably less known third goal. And that is to teach Americans about the world beyond our own borders.

Today, all 50 States are participating in the recently established World Wise School program. This program assists over 60,000 students in learning geography, acquiring international knowledge, and in inspiring good citizenship.

The Fellows/USA program allows returned volunteers to earn master's degrees while serving as teachers in our nation's neediest inner-city schools and then in the rural schools as well. Twelve universities are currently participating in this program.

In each of these important tasks, consistently for 30 years, so many thousands of volunteers have done a superb job in so many countries. Because the Peace Corps has served with characteristic American generosity and ability, I am proud to offer my congratulations on this very important 30th anniversary and my strong support and best wishes for the future.

Thank you all for coming down here, and now I'd like to ask the former Directors to join me as I sign this proclamation. I'm grateful for the work all you have put into this.

Note: The President spoke at 10:01 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to R. Sargent Shriver, founding Director of the Peace Corps; Senators Claiborne Pell and Richard G. Lugar; Representatives William S. Broomfield and Jim Leach; Peace Corps Director Paul D. Coverdell; and Edward Pizack, chairman of the Liberty Bell Foundation. The proclamation is listed in Appendix E at the end of this volume.

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