DEAR ABBY: A heartfelt thanks for mentioning the Peace Corps volunteers in your New Year's Day blessings. This is something I have never heard before, and I was in the first Peace Corps group in Honduras in 1962.
Those of my peers who are trained to go to other nations and subjugate or kill the inhabitants there are offered many inducements or rewards, such as government assistance in schooling, home loans, health insurance and care, Veterans Administration hospitals and point preference on tests for government jobs.
I have no problem with this. However, to my knowledge, none of these rewards are offered to returning Peace Corps volunteers, those of us who were trained to understand and love the people of other lands and to offer them our friendship.
In a Christian country that supposedly espouses love for all mankind, what kind of statement does this make about our true attitude toward others? -- KENT D. MYRICK, PHOENIX
DEAR KENT MYRICK: It's shameful. A brief history of the Peace Corps:
In January 1960, Sen. Richard L. Neuberger of Oregon and Congressman Henry S. Reuss of Wisconsin asked Congress to study the possibilities of a youth corps program. Later that year, Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota proposed that Congress create a Peace Corps.
Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts used the proposal for a Peace Corps in his 1960 presidential election campaign. He declared, "There is not enough money in all America to relieve the misery of the underdeveloped world in a giant and endless soup kitchen, but there is enough know-how and knowledgeable people to help those nations to help themselves."
Kennedy was elected president in November 1960. He established the Peace Corps in March 1961. The first volunteers started training at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. Sargent Shriver (Kennedy's brother-in-law) was the first director.
More than 80,000 Americans have served as Peace Corps volunteers.
DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Lost in Kansas City, Kan." -- the person with no sense of direction -- really hit home with me. The phrase "directional dyslexia" is a great way to describe someone who suffers from this problem.
I have had it for as long as I can remember. I'm a schoolteacher, and my friends make fun of me, saying things like, "I can't believe you went to college." They don't realize that lacking a sense of direction has nothing to do with intelligence or education.
It is frightening to have no idea which direction is correct. I have gone to the same mall for 20 years and still can't pinpoint where a particular department store is. I can drive the same route many times and never know whether to turn left or right.
My solution is to always have my cellular phone with me. It has come in handy many times. I have one very understanding friend I call. She stays on the line and gives me directions until I arrive at my destination.
Please, Abby, urge your readers to have a little compassion for those of us with no sense of direction. -- NO LAUGHING MATTER, FORT LAUDERDALE
DEAR NO LAUGHING MATTER: Your suggestion to carry a cellular phone so you can get directions is a good one. If your Good Samaritan's line is busy, you could also call the business you're trying to find. Some enterprising salesperson may be willing to guide you to your destination. Also, a compass for your dashboard may be helpful.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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