E&E RPCVs
40th Conference postponed

To the Returned Peace Corps Community:

The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have been a terrible shock for our nation, including our community. We believe it is important for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, staff and friends of the Peace Corps to continue to convey their message of peace and positive engagement with the developing countries. We had therefore hoped to continue with our Conference in Washington DC, making necessary adjustments for security.

Extraordinary Tension in Washington
While our goal has not changed, the situation of uncertainty and the local circumstances in Washington DC have forced us to reexamine the nature of our plans:

--The situation in Washington is extraordinarily tense. The security perimeter around the White House has been greatly extended in the last day. Much of the area to be used by the Conference, including the Hotel Washington and the Mall, the American Red Cross, Department of Commerce, now falls within a greatly widened security perimeter. All persons entering the perimeter have to show ID's and are subject to search.

-- Military Police manning HUM-V vehicles are on every street downtown, including on L Street in front of the NPCA. Traffic is being directed by the National Guard, and there have been frequent bomb scares and evacuations of buildings. There have been statements from the Administration suggesting that military action might occur during the period in question. There is uncertainty about the availability of government buildings now scheduled to host meetings.

--Despite a resumption of commercial flights, Reagan National Airport is closed indefinitely. Many of our registrants were scheduled to arrive at National. Reroutings and reservation changes are extremely difficult at this time. More than half of our registrants are coming from far away. It will be extremely difficult to ensure that even those registrants willing to come could get to the city without difficulty.

--President Alejandro Toledo has reaffirmed his willingness to appear at the Conference. At the same time the Secret Service has informed the Peruvian Embassy that the presence of foreign dignitaries in Washington DC is not recommended. The Peruvian Foreign Ministry is concerned about his security and the logistics of the visit.

--The Conference would likely be occurring at the same time as large numbers of funerals for those lost in the Pentagon attack. Some have expressed concern that such a juxtaposition would be inappropriate. The festivities usually associated with Country-of-Service reunions will not be appropriate to the occasion and would need to be scaled back.

Postponement of the Conference; Volunteer Day and a Peace Vigil to Go Forward
Under these circumstances, the NPCA Board and I have reluctantly concluded that we have no choice but to postpone the Conference to an appropriate time in the spring or early summer of next year. (President Toledo has indicated his availability to come to a rescheduled Conference.) At the same time, we are not abandoning our plans to convey our special outreach to the people of the developing countries. We will go forward next week with at least two events that convey our message of peace and service: these are Volunteer Day on Saturday morning, September 22 and a Peace Vigil with country of service flags that evening at the Washington Monument. Those participating in these events will largely be RPCVs from the Washington DC/Virginia/Maryland areas.

Suggestions for Registrants
Most of the planning has already been done for a Conference and much of that planning will be applicable to the event that will be held at a future date. We hope that as many as possible of you will decide to maintain your registration for the rescheduled Conference. We will refund registration fees for those who request it. However, it is important that you be aware we have already sustained substantial costs in connection with the 40th Conference, and the financial position of the organization would be jeopardized if everyone demands his/her money back. We therefore appeal to you to keep faith with us and to plan to come to our rescheduled Conference, if you possibly can.

You should be able to cancel your hotel registrations without penalty. Please let us know if there are difficulties with respect to those hotels previously posted on our website (with which we have contracts).

We will be in touch with you as soon as possible about future plans and registration fees. We wanted to get this message out as quickly as possible so that you could reexamine your travel plans this week-end.

In peace and with great regret,
Dane Smith, President

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The 40th