Peace Corps Director Ronald A. Tschetter’s
Remarks at the JF Kennedy Bust Unveiling Ceremony
On the U.S. Embassy Grounds
Thursday, June 21, 2007
The idea of the Peace Corps was spurred during the late-night session, October 17, 1960, at the University of Michigan campus while then-Senator John F. Kennedy was campaigning. It quickly came to fruition following President Kennedy’s inauguration in January of 1961.
Cameroon was one of the very early countries to request and receive volunteers.
President Kennedy’s famous challenge to America that Ambassador Marquardt articulated, “And so my fellow Americans – Ask not what your country can do for you: Ask rather what you can do for your country,” is followed by a quote that we often overlook: “My fellow citizens of the world – Ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”
Clearly, what the Peace Corps is all about is working together. As I have traveled around Cameroon over the last four days, I have seen endless results of “working together.” Whether it is in education, agro-forestry, small enterprise development, or community health, the work of the Peace Corps cannot be effective, it cannot leave sustainable results, it cannot provide a better understanding of Americans, it can not take back to America a better understanding of Cameroonians, without a working together relationship. These bonds of trust, understanding and caring will absolutely contribute to peace and freedom.
And so, as we commemorate President Kennedy’s dream and vision of October 1960 that became a reality on March 1, 1961, and 45 years ago began in Cameroon, we look to the future with renewed vigor, enthusiasm, and commitment. We honor the past with the unveiling of the bust of the President Kennedy, we thank the government and the People of Cameroon for 45 years of working together, and look forward to continuing the legacy of peace, understanding, and freedom.