Lawrence Radley

Arlington Cemetery Amphitheater
September 21, 1986
Response of Memorial Families’ Representatives
Gordon Radley – RPCV Malawi

David Crozier was a Southern Baptist from the small town of West Plains, Missouri. Larry Radley was a Jew from the city of Chicago. On Easter Sunday, 1962, in the predominantly Catholic country of Colombia, they were on a plane with 38 Colombianos. The plane crashed into a mountainside and everyone on board perished. They were the first two of our Peace Corps brethren to give their lives to Peace Corps service. Larry Radley was my brother and I am the last in the family to serve in the Peace Corps. I was a volunteer in Malawi. My elder sister, Elena Radley Rozenman, was  a Volunteer in Colombia soon after my brother died. I have been asked to respond on behalf of the families of all those Volunteers we remember today.

For all of the families, I want to express our most humble and grateful appreciation for this opportunity to share our personal losses with all of you. Until now our grief has been largely a private matter shared within our separate families and communities. But as I stand here today at our National Cemetery and in front of my fellow Volunteers, I realize that my brother and all the brothers and sisters and sons and daughters and mothers and fathers who have given their lives to Peace Corps service belong not only to our families but to our greater Peace Corps family and to our nation as a whole.

They belong to you, because they were one of you. They trained with you and struggled by your side. They suffered your frustrations and celebrated your successes. They were a part of you as much as one of ours. And the hope and commitment and love they shared with you continues to enrich our families’ lives.

And I’ve come to realize that they belong to America, as well. The ideals and values all these Volunteers embraced are the heart and soul of our nation. Though they served as individuals, they brought with them the positivism and democratic commitment that are the essence of our national tradition.

And when, as equals, they entered into the communities of those they had volunteered to serve, they brought into our families the hopes and dreams of the far reaches of the world. Through them, our families’ embrace had grown to include the community of man.

Looking out at the grandness and magnificence of this marble amphitheater, I am aware of what a fitting, and yet ironic, setting this is. The lives of these Volunteers were not marked by grand gestures and public pronouncements. There are no Peace Corps marching bands and crowds waving banners. They chose to live and work anonymously and without public acclaim. In the last letter my brother wrote, he was reminded of the sentiment of William Stoeckel: “It is better to live humbly for a cause than to die nobly for one.” Those Volunteers we remember today died nobly because they lived humbly. They were not martyrs, yet they were willing, like the rest of us, to assume the risks that went with Peace Corps service. By working and living and dying alongside those they had volunteered to serve, they proved to us, to our nation, and to the world at large the depth of the Peace Corps commitment.

Now they are gone and our families will never outgrow this loss. Yet their faith, their dedication and their love will live on through the lives of each Peace Corps Volunteer. You have given our families our most precious gift. You have given us an everlasting memorial.

-Shared by Gordon Radley, Larry’s brother


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