(updated December, 2020)
The family of Peace Corps founder, Sargent Shriver said they were “overwhelmed by support,” upon the passing of Sargent Shriver on Tuesday, January 18, 2011. The world, even though we did not all know him, got a whole lot of support from Sargent Shriver throughout his life of service and right up to today.
Peace Corps Founder
Sure he married a Kennedy, John Kennedy’s sister, Eunice to be exact. He could have rested on that notoriety. He did not. Like most of the Kennedy clan he served the public.
He founded numerous social programs and organizations, including:
- Head Start
- Job Corps
- Community Action
- Upward Bound
- Foster Grandparents
- Legal Services
- The National Clearinghouse for Legal Services (now the Shriver Center)
- Indian and Migrant Opportunities
- Neighborhood Health Services
In addition to directing the Peace Corps. He was active in:
- Special Olympics, founded by his wife Eunice
- United States Ambassador to France
- George McGovern‘s running mate as the Democratic Party‘s nominee for U.S. Vice President
In an op-ed column in the New York Times the Irish, activist/rocker Bono said, “The Irish are still mesmerized by the mythical place that is America, but in the ’60s our fascination got out of hand….The Irish saw the Kennedys as our own royal family out on loan to America.” Sarge was one of them, though not out front like Jack and Bobby, but “he knew that love was a tough word. Easy to say, tough to see it through. Love, yes, and peace, too, in no small measure; this was the ’60s but you wouldn’t know it just by looking at him. No long hair in the Shriver house, or rock ’n’ roll.” But, “His faith demanded action, from him, from all of us.”
In op-ed piece in the Santa Barbara Independent Thomas Tighe laud’s Sargent Shriver, “His intensity was joyful and infectious, his amazing intellect was deployed with empathy, and he pinched pennies and jammed bureaucracies to work with relentless optimism and idealism. For Shriver, these items were not mutually exclusive. He had followers because he led, not because he ran to the front of a line that was already formed. And it was palpable that he liked, respected, and was rooting for individual people, not just humanity in the abstract.”
At Yale University in 1994 Shriver said, “”All of history’s great changes — nonviolent changes — came from below, not from above. It comes from us… It’s not what you get out of life that counts. It’s what you give and what is given to you from the heart… And I have one small word of advice because it is going to be tough: Break your mirrors!!! Yes indeed — shatter the glass. In our society that is so self-absorbed, begin to look less at yourself and more at each other. Learn more about the face of your neighbor and less about your own.”
Peace Corps Volunteers Praise Sargent Shriver
Shriver told a 1981 reunion of Peace Corps volunteers: “The cure is care. Caring for others is the practice of peace. Caring becomes as important as curing. Caring produces the cure, not the reverse. Caring about nuclear war and its victims is the beginning of a cure for our obsession with war. Peace does not comes through strength. Quite the opposite: Strength comes through peace. The practices of peace strengthen us for every vicissitude. . . . The task is immense!”
Shriver describes the need for the Peace Corps and reviews some of its accomplishments in the early years, in this video.
Tom Brokaw honors Sargent Shriver for his role in the Special Olympics.