Peace Corps architect recalls experience serving in agency as 'a dramatic, exciting thing to do.'

Dan Sharp says when he was the deputy attorney general of California, a speech on the Peace Corps by then presidential candidate John Kennedy during his campaign in San Francisco changed his life.

Mark Sudol

Mar 1, 2023, 10:40 PM

Updated 510 days ago

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It is the 62nd anniversary of the Peace Corps and a local man who had a big impact on the development of the organization is looking back on the group's origins.
Dan Sharp, 90, grew up in San Francisco. He says when he was the deputy attorney general of California, a speech on the Peace Corps by then presidential candidate John Kennedy during his campaign in San Francisco changed his life.
"When Kennedy gave his Peace Corps speech, it sort of hit me like a bolt of lightning. A dramatic, exciting thing to do. I've got to go help," said Sharp.
Sharp worked with Sargent Shriver to help negotiate the first 5 treaties that started the Peace Corps. Sharp took the first Peace Corps volunteers to Peru on Sept. 2, 1962.
"It was exhilarating, and we all felt just wonderful about being a part of this exciting idea," said Sharp.
Now Sharp lives at the Meadow Ridge Retirement Community in Redding where he spends time telling others his story and about the importance of volunteering.
"There really should be a year of national service for every young person. Peace Corps, Army, health service, US -- somewhere," said Sharp.
Sharp says he was in the Peace Corps for seven years. Since its inception, more than 240,000 Americans have served in the Peace Corps.
"I think it will be around a long time," said Sharp.
Sharp is working on a memoir on his experience in the Peace Corps.


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