Joining the Peace Corps family five years ago, I was confronted with a vast array of people who had done so much that as a newcomer to the world of development, I admit that I found it all somewhat daunting. I knew I believed in Peace Corps' mission wholeheartedly, but catching up on 20 years of experience built by 100,000 people is a heavy responsibility. I could sense also that there was a question in many people's minds as to whether or not the new administration of President Reagan could commit a full measure of support to the Peace Corps.
My introduction wasn't always smooth. My first advisor in the White House told me that he'd recommend that the Peace Corps be abolished . . . . Then I discovered the Peace Corps budget tucked into a category entitled, "Miscellaneous 1," not exactly a promising place to be if you are truly committed to building a force for world peace . . . .
President Reagan was, and is, part of the revitalization of the Peace Corps spirit. He has always understood and celebrated the willingness of American people to volunteer, to sacrifice, to be a beacon for the democratic values we all treasure. He said recently to a group of Peace Corps volunteers he was visiting with that he would be leaving the White House in 1988, and perhaps in a couple of years he might be joining them. . . .
The Peace Corps illuminates a democracy, for all who participate, whether they're doers or receivers. It is also pro-American. It is pro-world. It is anti-poverty. It is anti-hunger. It is humanitarian. It is educational, both for the developing world and equally as important for the people of the United States.