To mark the occasion of the Peace Corps’ 50th anniversary year, the Atlanta Area Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
and the Peace Corps Atlanta Regional Office sponsored a Peace Vigil on March 4, 2011 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Site and the National Park Service Visitor
Center. This special public gathering commemorated the Peace Corps' 50 year legacy of promoting peace and friendship in over
140 developing countries around the globe.
Nearly 60 people braved the cold weather to participate in this very special event. Gathering outside the National
Park Service’s MLK museum, attendees were invited to write brief statements that answered the question: What does the
“peace” in Peace Corps mean to you? Additional statements had been submitted earlier by those unable to attend.
These personal affirmations of peace were displayed for all to read.
On the fringe of the World Peace Rose Garden, AARPCV President Juli Powers welcomed the assembly and made introductory
remarks, including quotes from President John F. Kennedy and Sargent Shriver. Several members of AARPCV read quotes from Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr. in which he spoke of the Peace Corps, peace, and the impact that one person can have. David Leavitt
spoke on behalf of the Atlanta Regional Office and shared a statement from Martin Luther King III on what the Peace Corps
means to him.
Jason Carter, RPCV (South Africa, 1998-2001), grandson of President Carter and current Georgia State Senator,
spoke about the meaning of his Peace Corps service and its impact on his life.
The family of PCV Kate Puzey, who died
tragically in service, was present for the event. Mrs. Lois Puzey spoke poignantly about her daughter’s love of the
Peace Corps and her sacrifice. She then discussed her efforts to work for the safety of all Volunteers and to honor the sacrifices
of fallen Volunteers.
event then moved to the adjacent MLK burial site, with attendees gathering around the eternal flame. A candle was lit and
the flame passed throughout the group, so all were holding lighted candles as AARPCV President Juli Powers and AARPCV Vice
President Gerry Sachs read the names of all 280 Peace Corps Volunteers who have died in service. A moment of silence was observed
in honor of all fallen Volunteers.
departing, guests walked back along the same route, reading the assembled peace affirmations written earlier.
The Peace Vigil at this revered site helped friends and family
of the Peace Corps community, as well as the Atlanta Area Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, to honor our legacy of peaceful
service; to recognize and remember the sacrifices made by fallen volunteers; to demonstrate the effectiveness and the impact
of the third goal; and to inspire the next generation of Peace Corps Volunteers.