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John G.
Democrat CA 3

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  • Peace Corps DC Commemorative Work Act

    by Representative John Garamendi

    Posted on 2014-01-13

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    GARAMENDI. Thank you, Mr. Grijalva, and I thank the chairman for bringing this bill to the floor.

    What is there to say? 150,000-or-more men and women from America have gone out across the world to give the very best of this country, the service, to assist in numerous ways, everything from teaching to community development and everything in between.

    My wife and I were two of those 150,000-plus Americans. Our service was in Ethiopia. And it is hard to say, coming back from those years, what actually happened. But what actually happened is progress was made.

    The school in which my wife taught now has computers in their school as a result of her work and the work of her students who came back 30, 40 years after they had graduated from that elementary school, to help in their school to carry on the tradition of service.

    This particular piece of legislation would simply authorize an effort by a nonprofit organization to build a commemorative program here in Washington, D.C. No Federal money is needed.

    There is a long, long process that would lead to the culmination of this, but I believe, having seen the 50th anniversary program here in Washington, in which tens of thousands of returned Peace Corps volunteers and young men and women that want to become Peace Corps volunteers, came to Washington to commemorate the 50th anniversary. So, now, a year and a half later, here we are moving this piece of legislation.

    We ought to do it; and, ultimately, I believe that there will be a commemoration, some sign of a memorial here in Washington, D.C., that will speak to peace, will speak to the yearning that Americans have for peace around the world, for a better world for all of us, wherever that may be, whether it is in the former Soviet Union countries or in those developing countries in Africa, Asia, or in Latin America.

    This is a good thing, and I am going to give just one more example. In the year 2000, a group of returned Peace Corps volunteers returned to Ethiopia and Eritrea. In the midst of a war in which some 80,000 Ethiopians and Eritreans were killed, that group of returned Peace Corps volunteers were able to speak to the heads of state.

    The U.S. Government couldn't talk to them, nor could other governments. But it turned out that both of those heads of state were taught in their high school by Peace Corps volunteers, and they were willing to talk to those returned volunteers. And from those discussions came the formulation of the settlement of that war.

    You never know where the impact will be felt, but I know it is felt in every country in which Peace Corps volunteers have served, and it is felt here in the United States and in this Congress by men and women that have served in the Peace Corps.

    Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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