John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks to Officers of the International Peace Corps Secretariat..

May 09, 1963

I WANT to express a very warm welcome to all of you. This Peace Corps has been a matter which has consumed a good deal of the interest of this country, particularly among some of our most dedicated citizens, and we have learned a good deal from the work that has been done in some of your countries in previous programs. And we hope this Secretariat will bring about an exchange of ideas back and forth and will strengthen the United States Peace Corps and also stimulate greater work in your own country.

All of you, with the exception of those who come from the Philippines, come from what could be called "developed societies." It seems to me we have an opportunity, particularly in the fields of education and health and related fields, to fulfill obligations which we have to the newly developing countries. And also it seems to me we serve our own citizens well by permitting an outlet of service to the world beyond our own national boundaries and we set up a pool of talent for future national service either in the Government or in teaching or public work of one kind or another which will' strengthen all of our societies in your own and the United States.

So I am very glad to welcome all of you here. I hope this cross-fertilization of ideas produces a good crop, and we are very satisfied with our success, with our start. I know that there were a good many reservations at the beginning. We are having a hard battle forming a Domestic Service Corps in the United States, and some of the things we are trying to do in other countries, but we now have achieved general support from your own experience with comparable or similar volunteer services. I think that you will know this enlists the best sentiments of your country, and I think we can expand in your countries and have a real effect in the general cause of freedom in strengthening our own countries and proving the sense of feeling about free societies contributing to great public efforts.

I have always been impressed by the dedication which totalitarian societies enlist to aid rather adverse causes. I think if we enlist in a great cause like this we will have a great deal of strength. So we want to welcome you here and hope that we will find a good deal of success in this country and your country. And I wish you well.

Note: The President spoke at 4 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. The group, composed of about 20 directors and chief administrators representing 13 countries, was in Washington May 6-17 to attend the First International Workshop for Peace Corps Development sponsored by the International Secretariat.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks to Officers of the International Peace Corps Secretariat.. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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