Why This Commemorative
Meanings and Messages: An Evocative Design Concept
The meanings and messages of the national Peace Corps Commemorative are about America’s outstretched hand reaching compassionately around the world to enhance mutual understanding and promote peace and justice.
Many monuments in Washington, DC, commemorate historic figures and Americans who served in the military. Yet absent is a memorial honoring a different manifestation of the nation’s historic ideals and experience: promoting peace, prosperity and social justice through direct outreach and human-to-human interaction. This Commemorative will enrich and more fully tell America’s story.
By living, working, teaching and learning alongside individuals aspiring to better their own lives and their country’s future, to date 230,000 American volunteers have helped global citizens transcend differences in culture, faith and ethnicity and economic disparity to build a better world.
Engagement with diverse peoples and communities, in the spirit of mutual respect and trust, is fundamental to the Peace Corps mission. Thus this commemorative work will be an inspiring homage to the better angels of our nature, those attributes of the American ethos that motivated creation of the Peace Corps and that Peace Corps volunteer service embodies.
A world map without national boundaries connotes our shared humanity, our aspiration to transcend barriers between peoples to gain mutual understanding and promote peace.
Three granite benches, each with an outreaching hand, embrace the ellipse. The hands express giving and receiving, teaching and learning from others, thereby symbolizing positive attributes of the American ethos inherent in the Peace Corps idea and Peace Corps volunteer service.
For generations, visitors will stroll, gather and relax in the park as well as contemplate and interact with the Commemorative art. As they share this serene experience, visitors will become part of the unified, living ensemble.
This enduring commemorative work will evoke feelings of pride and optimism about America, its character and its credo, reminding us and the world’s peoples that we all must work together in pursuit of mutual understanding, peace and justice.
Artist Larry Kirkland (www.larrykirkland.com) and Michael Vergason Landscape Architects (www.vergason.net) have blended abstraction and figuration to create a Commemorative park landscape unlike any other in America’s capital city.
In the Heart of the Nation's Capital
The PCCF is working closely with the National Park Service, which will own and maintain the Commemorative and chosen NPS site in perpetuity. Although modest in size, the Peace Corps Commemorative site is favorably located near the heart of the nation's capital. Within easy walking distance are the U.S. Capitol Building and Capitol Grounds; Constitution Avenue and the National Mall’s museums and monuments; Union Station; Metro subway stations; and nearby hotels and restaurants.
A grove of trees will frame and shade the Commemorative park landscape, extending and continuing tree-covered Taft Park landscape, the nearby Capitol grounds, tree-lined Constitution Avenue and the National Mall.
Existing Site Views
Site Design Goals
- An attractive, inviting public park and a desirable site for a historic, national commemorative work
- A place to gather for contemplation and inspiration, for rest and relaxation, serving visitors of all ages, genders, ethnicities and nationalities
- A park landscape and commemorative work occupying the triangular site while also harmonizing with the much larger, surrounding urban space
- Visibility day and night for pedestrians and occupants of vehicles
- Ability for visitors to see well beyond the site with views toward the U.S. Capitol, Taft Park and the National Mall
- Aesthetically unique, meaningful, memorable design imagery conveying symbolically the key meanings and messages of this commemorative work