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  • Peace Corps DC Commemorative Work Act

    by Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III

    Posted on 2014-01-13

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    KENNEDY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of this piece of legislation. I want to thank the chairman and the ranking member for their diligence and their hard work in bringing this bill to the floor.

    I also want to recognize my esteemed college from Wisconsin for his service in the Peace Corps and his dedicated public service ever since, and recognize my fellow returned Peace Corps volunteers that are on the floor as well.

    Mr. Speaker, this piece of legislation seeks to recognize the commitment not just of Peace Corps volunteers, but some of the core values and ideals of our country. As a returned Peace Corps volunteer myself, serving in the Dominican Republic, I got to see some extraordinary, dedicated American citizens working day in and day out in some very tough circumstances over the course of their over-2 years of service.

    {time} 1715 And of all of the memories that come up in my 27 months abroad, one has particularly stuck with me. About a year or so into my service, I was on my way back into Santo Domingo, the nation's capital, on a bus initially designed for probably about eight, but with about 20 people crammed into it.

    I was in the second-to-last row with a backpack on my lap, when an older gentleman tapped me on the shoulder and asked, in Spanish, Cuerpo de Paz, inquiring if I was actually a Peace Corps volunteer. Apparently, I didn't blend in quite as well as I had hoped.

    The gentleman explained that he grew up on the outskirts of Santo Domingo in a rural village that, at the time, didn't have any running water, and a Peace Corps volunteer arrived and helped construct an aqueduct to bring clean water to the village.

    He, at that point, thanked me, not for my work, but for the work that that other volunteer had done decades before. He never asked my name. He never asked where I was from. He never asked what I did. He just said thank you; and a few moments later, the bus stopped, he got off and I never saw him again.

    It is that generosity of spirit, that dedication to the ideals and values of this country that Peace Corps represents and that this monument will seek to commemorate in our Nation's Capital for time to come.

    I am so grateful for the support of our other Peace Corps volunteers that are serving in Congress and want to thank them for all the work that they did to make this day come to fruition.

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

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