Veterans of the Peace Corps

You served too.

We thank you and salute you. And you in the Foreign Service as well. Thanks.


  1. A spot on his lung from a childhood disease made my dad 4F for World War II (his mom served, though), and so by the time they changed the rules for the next war, he had enough engineering training to be in the Signal Corp with pretty cushy duty around the states rather than in Korea. But he always got real quiet around Veteran’s day. It turned out that most of his Queens borough high school class of ’43 never made it off the beach at Normandy.

    Not every veteran shares the same memories outlined by the first 24 minutes of “Saving Private Ryan.” But I think every veteran gets it, and that every one thinks about it. I think all the survivors ask the same questions of themselves and of fate. And I think that’s true for every branch of service, and for the Peace Corp, and the active Press Corp, and for doctors with or without borders.

    “Enna boubi.” All around the world.
    Thank you.

  2. I’m grateful for all the heroic and mundane service of the people who saved us from the Nazis.

    I know I shouldn’t say it, but I’m not especially grateful to the guys who served in Viet Nam, at least the latter part of the war. They would have served us better by refusing to go. But of course, it’s not really fair to blame the soldier; it’s the people who sent him that are the problem.

    You cannot have a military without soldiers who just go where they’re told to go and do what they’re told to do. And sometimes you do need a military; I get that too.

    But we live in an imperialist country during imperialist times, and the fetishisation of military service bothers me. As a citizen it bothers me; it reminds me that republics can and do slide into fascism.

    The men & women in our armed forces have served in some very dangerous, scary, hot, cold, unfriendly & otherwise nasty situations over the last 7 years. Among them are some men who were once boys in a Boy Scout troop where I was assistant scoutmaster, and classmates of my youngest daughter. Also, sons of people who served with me in the Peace Corps. Lots of good men and women have been killed, wounded, or traumatized. I accept my share of responsibility for that. I should have done more to prevent & stop the war.

    But I do confess that when I see the hoopla over veterans, I wish there were more hoopla over people who served without guns and bombs, people who built schools and dug wells and helped improve soils and all that. They too served, sometimes, in nasty environments; they too performed courageously. And ultimately, I believe, they did as much or more to make the world a better, safer place than the soldiers did.

    But like I said, that’s not the soldier’s fault. It’s up to the people of the country to decide what functions & skills & symbolism they most value.

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