IN MEMORIAM: John F. Kennedy

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Presidents: President John F. Kennedy: November 16, 2003 - PCOL Photo Essay: Returned Peace Corps Volunteers: Leave your memories of JFK: IN MEMORIAM: John F. Kennedy

By Robert W. Proctor (bobboe) ( - on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 7:58 pm: Edit Post

IN MEMORIAM: John F. Kennedy.

by Robert W. Proctor, PCV/Nepal, '62-'64

Saturday, November 22nd, marked the 40th year that has passed since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Four decades ago I was ten thousand miles, two cultures and certainly a half-century in time removed from the horrific events in Dallas, Texas. Classes had ended for the day at the Nepali college where I was teaching, and I had just joined several Nepali colleagues for a mid-afternoon tea. We were chatting amiably about inconsequential things--some new books just arrived from India, the upcoming marriage of my botany professor counterpart's daughter, and as always, a word or two about how lovely the weather was this harvest time of year. And how we could see, from our roof-top terrace, the wonder of a many centuries-old city spread out before us to the west, and because of the clarity of air this time of year, distant villages, with their stacks of harvested grains, clinging to the mountain slopes that surrounded the Kathmandu Valley. They seemed close enough to touch. Our utter shock can be imagined when another teacher rushed to join us and, with hardly disguised anguish in her voice, said "Kennedy has been shot. He is dead."

For an incredible moment in time, on that sun-warmed terrace during an otherwise idyllic afternoon, there were no "Americans" or "Nepalis", "Westerners" or "Easterners". There was just a unity of profound sorrow and loss.

I was to teach one more year in Nepal as a Peace Corps Volunteer in what would prove to be the experience of a lifetime, thanks to the life--and vision--of a man whose brain was tunneled by an assassin's bullet forty years ago. Do I owe this man a debt? Oh, yes. An unrepayable one. Thanks to John F. Kennedy's life, my life since the Peace Corps experience has unfolded with rewards totally beyond previous imagination. Of course, nothing can make up for the years he lost. But when one considers the good that has come from the tens of thousands of years given in service overseas by my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers over the decades, I'm sure that if President Kennedy were alive today, he would consider his efforts well rewarded, and his tragically shortened life blessed with great achievements, beyond his own.

President Kennedy may be long dead. But no one, especially this Peace Corps Volunteer, believes his spirit is dead. On the contrary, I suggest it flourishes quite well, notably in a place that I remember with great fondness, ten thousand miles, a half century of time, and two cultures away.

--Robert W. Proctor
Peace Corps Nepal, 1962-1964

23 November, 2003
La Luz, New Mexico

By paul arfin ( - on Friday, October 22, 2004 - 8:54 pm: Edit Post

I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia when JFK was killed. I well remember being in San Gil and my disbelief when Richard Miller told me what had happened. I refused to believe it. I listened over and over again to the transatlantic radio to hear the news repeated. There was a special mass in the church. Village people came to our homes to express their sympathy. Many asked if we would go back to the US, suggesting that the Peace Corps was JFK.
The Peace Corps dramatically effected my life. I have dedicated my life to public service and often imagine myself as still in the Peace Corps.
During Peace Corps training, we were told that we would experience "culture shock" when we arrived overseas. My culture shock started when I returned to the US forty years ago.

Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.