Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sargent Shriver

One of the heroes of my early life died today after a long life of 95 years.  Sargent Shriver, who will live forever in my memory as the young, vibrant brother-in-law of John F. Kennedy and husband of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, set the example of selfless public service to my generation and those who followed.  Shriver was the first director of the Peace Corps, established by JFK in 1961.  This photo, from UPI, is of the president handing Sarge the pen he used to sign the bill making the Peace Corps permanent on September 22, 1961.  In addition to a decades-long commitment to the Peace Corps, Sarge lived a life of public service, serving in the US Navy from 1941-1945, as director of the Office of Economic Opportunity from 1965-1968, and as US Ambassador to France from 1968-1970.  He ran for vice president with George McGovern in 1972, replacing Thomas Eagleton after reports surfaced of his battle with mental illness.  In 1976, he briefly ran for the Democratic nomination for president.

In 1984, Sarge became president of Special Olympics, the passion of his wife, Eunice.  In 1990, he became chairman of the board.

Sarge was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2003, and fought the battle of the long goodbye through Eunice's death in August, 2009 and the death of his brother-in-law, Ted Kennedy, just weeks later.

This great generation of Kennedys and Shrivers served as an example to us all.  Sarge was the last, and probably the most humble, but his life of quiet service shouted to us all.

God bless him and his family.


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