When I read about the NYT's selective editing of a letter from Cpl. Jeffrey B. Starr to emphasize "the harsh life and nearness of death in Iraq" it made me think about another organization that sends volunteers to foreign countries with the goal of improving conditions there, the Peace Corps.
The Dayton Daily News did a series of articles in 2003 about the dangers these volunteers face.
Records from a never-before-released computer database show that reported assault cases involving Peace Corps volunteers increased 125 percent from 1991-2002, while the number of volunteers increased by 29 percent, according to the Peace Corps. Last year , the number of assaults and robberies averaged one every 23 hours.
About one-third of the volunteers leave for non-medical reasons before their two-year commitment is up. Between 1961 and 2003, more than 250 volunteers died: some were murdered, some died by suicide, and some under mysterious circumstances.
Where are the protests demanding to bring these volunteers home? Where are the defeatist headlines reporting each attack and declaring the program a failure?
There aren't any because people still recognize the good that is being done. According to the DDN, "Most of the more than 350 volunteers interviewed by the Daily News, even assault victims, looked favorably on their service. Many felt it was the most significant experience in their lives, giving them a new understanding of the world and leaving them with a new appreciation for the opportunities in the United States."
That's all we're asking for in the coverage of Cpl. Starr's letter, the rest of the story. The part of the letter that says, "I don't regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark."Posted by marybeth at November 4, 2005 07:31 AM News