Fifty years ago 51 Americans arrived in Ghana to “promote world peace and friendship.” Since then, more than 200,000 volunteers—ages 18 to 86, some now diplomats and politicians—have served in 139 nations.
But the Peace Corps is no fame game or numbers story; it’s a sign of the times. Historian Stanley Meisler says participation dipped as the Nixon Vietnam era “took the shine off doing something for the U.S.” As memories faded, the luster of service returned. Now, on the group’s golden anniversary, Oval Office support and recession woes are lifting enlistment.
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