Afghanistan Peace Corps Volunteers Celebrate 50 Years of Service in Washington DC

posted Sep 9, 2011, 9:12 AM by Terry Dougherty

Group to Advocate for Peace and Security in Afghanistan,

Repatriate Antique Quran, Lead Parade of Nations at JFK Gravesite


For Release: Savannah, Georgia September 11, 2011


The Peace Corps community will hold the largest celebration in its fifty year history to commemorate the organization’s Golden Anniversary, and Friends of Afghanistan is honored to be playing an important role in the festivities.


An agenda filled with Peace Corps events is set to take place in Washington D.C., from September 22-25, 2011 beginning with Advocacy Day. This occasion will give a delegation of officers and members of Friends of Afghanistan, officially representing the more than two thousand Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) who served in Afghanistan from 1962 right up to the Soviet invasion in 1979, an opportunity to meet with Members of Congress and their staff. Advocacy Day marks fifty years since the September 22, 1961 date on which Congress officially approved legislation establishing the Peace Corps. President John F Kennedy described the legislation as authorizing "a peace corps of talented men and women" who would dedicate themselves to the advancement of peace and progress in the developing countries of the world.


While Peace Corps and the National Peace Corps Association have prepared a full schedule for the attending RPCVs, Friends of Afghanistan will also offer a number of country specific events. “The program” said FoA event coordinator Jan West, “will include an authentic Afghan Bazaar and a series of presentations featuring a retrospective from our Country Directors.” The Directors’ discussion will be led by Bob Steiner, the first Country Director for Peace Corps Afghanistan. Steiner was personally recruited by Sargent Shriver in 1961 to start up the Peace Corps effort the following year in Afghanistan. After serving as our host at a dinner on Friday evening, the new Afghan Ambassador Eklil Hakimi, will offer the Keynote address on Saturday morning. Other speakers will include Bruce Freyer who is a co-founder of the Global Partnership for Afghanistan. Bruce will provide a presentation on what may prove to be the template for future sustainable charity programs in the region. Suzanne Griffin will wrap up our morning program with a presentation on the status of education in Afghanistan which is among Friends of Afghanistan’s top priorities.


During the Friday dinner at the Embassy Friends of Afghanistan’s Board of Directors will present the Afghan Ambassador with an antique hand scribed copy of the Quran for repatriation back into Afghanistan. Anthony Agnello, FoA President said, “Our gift of the Holy Quran, returned to the Afghan people after nearly five decades in America, is being presented as a symbol of respect and as a declaration of the affection and friendship that we PCVs feel in grateful recognition of the hospitality and kindness that we received during our service to their country.”


The closing ceremonies, which begin Sunday morning, will commence with a parade of flags, to be led by RPCVs from Friends of Afghanistan. We will carry the banners of the United States of America and Afghanistan at the front of the procession to Arlington National Cemetery. Final events will include a tribute to PCVs who have died in service and a commemorative wreath-laying ceremony at President Kennedy’s gravesite. The weekend celebration will end with a procession past the Eternal Flame and a march with all Country of Service flags across the Memorial Bridge to the National Mall. Nancy Cunningham a founder and former President of FoA said, “Drinking our first cup of tea as Peace Corp Volunteers in Afghanistan we were merely acquaintances with our Afghan hosts. But by the second cup of tea we had truly become fast friends. Now, many years past the third cup of tea, we recognize and honor the people of Afghanistan as our sisters and brothers and we intend to continue our advocacy for peace and security in their homeland for as long as we are able.” ###


Contact: Anthony Agnello, Phone #716-353-3067; email