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.