May 6, 2004: Headlines: Peace Corps Directors - Shriver: Special Olympics: Sargent Shriver Celebrated by Family, Friends and Colleagues

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Sargent Shriver Celebrated by Family, Friends and Colleagues

Sargent Shriver Celebrated by Family, Friends and Colleagues

Sargent Shriver Celebrated by Family, Friends and Colleagues

Sargent Shriver Celebrated by Family, Friends and Colleagues
6 May 2004

Panel discussion marks release of Shriver biography

“Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver,” by Scott Stossel, published by the Smithsonian Institution Press.

“For all of us who know Sarge,” said U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), “he leaps off the page.” Kennedy was referring to the first authorized biography of Sargent Shriver, “Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver,” by Scott Stossel, recently released to wide acclaim. Family, friends and colleagues gathered at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., USA, on Wednesday, 5 May 2004 to honor Shriver.

Shriver, Chairman of the Board Emeritus, Special Olympics, has compiled an unparalleled record of public service at every tier, from the local level to the world community, and those present were eager to pay him tribute. “Almost every one of you here has heard me say that I’m the luckiest man on earth,” said Shriver. “That’s never been more true than today.”

Kennedy credited Shriver for “the extraordinary magnitude of what he’s done for the country and the world,” making special note of “all that Sargent and Eunice [Kennedy Shriver, Founder of Special Olympics] have done for the intellectually disabled citizens of the world.” When Shriver was elected President of Special Olympics in 1994, he directed the operation and international development of sports programs around the world. Kennedy recounted the overwhelmingly positive impression Shriver’s enthusiasm and energy made on China’s political leaders during a visit several years back. “China changed its policy on intellectual disabilities after meeting Sarge,” said Kennedy.

In addition to his work for Special Olympics, Shriver has led the creation and development of an astounding number of agencies and initiatives that continue to benefit people around the world. He was the organizer and first Director of the Peace Corps; served as the first Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity under U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson; and created VISTA, Head Start, Community Action, Foster Grandparents, Job Corps, Legal Services, Indian and Migrant Opportunities and Neighborhood Health Services.

Author Stossel, a senior editor at The Atlantic Monthly, said that during the course of research of writing the detailed biography, he was “struck by how any people said personally, ‘He changed my life’ and ‘There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for Sargent Shriver.’” Stossel’s writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Washington Post and many other publications.

Highlighting the event was a panel discussion of Shriver’s many national and global contributions, led by NBC-TV’s Tim Russert, the Managing Editor and Moderator of “Meet the Press” and political analyst for “NBC Nightly News” and the “Today Show.”
Following the panel, Shriver and Stossel signed copies of “Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver," published by the Smithsonian Institution Press. [Photo by David Thomason]

Russert introduced Michael Beschloss, an award-winning historian of the U.S. Presidency and the author of numerous books; U.S. Congressman Harold E. Ford, Jr., (D-Tennessee); Thomas L. Friedman of The New York Times; and Maureen Orth of Vanity Fair, each of whom spoke on a different aspect of Shriver’s many contributions.

Beschloss discussed Shriver’s leadership on the 1960’s “War on Poverty” initiative, crediting Shriver with creating and sustaining programs such as VISTA, Head Start, Legal Services and more despite daunting political obstacles and lack of funding and staff.

“I didn’t want to look backward,” said Friedman. “This life contains some lessons for the here and now,” summing up five. “One, it’s not enough to rail against poverty; you’ve got to ‘buy a ticket’ — step up and act.... Two, how important American optimism is for keeping the world spinning — lately we’ve been exporting our fears, not our hopes. Three, be a good listener. Listening is a sign of respect. Four, to lead a global crusade, we have to be the best global citizens first. And five, the importance of imagination. ‘Imagine if we had a Peace Corps, if we brought the best of America around the world....”
Sargent Shriver (right, middle) during the historic May 2000 "Special Olympics China Millenium March." Then-President of China His Excellency Jiang Zemin stands next to Shriver; they are joined by (left) Deng Pufang, Chairman China Disabled Person's Federation, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver; and Timothy Shriver. "This may be the most important milestone in Special Olympics history since that auspicious day at Soldier Field," Sargent Shriver told the Global Messengers who accompanied him as delegation members, Stacey Johnston, Mark Swiconek, Andy Leonard, Rita Lawlor and Zhang Kun. [Photo courtesy of the Office of the President of China]

Orth was proud to discuss Shriver’s founding of the Peace Corps. “He is my George Washington,” said Orth, who was a Peace Corps volunteer in Medellín, Colombia, from 1965 to 1966. “He’s been responsible for giving so many of us the time of our lives,” she said, updating the audience on the growth and progress of a Columbia school that was named after her. “There’s a famous Indian proverb,” said Orth, who finds it particularly applicable to Shriver. “‘Never let your fame outshine your truth.’”

“I stand as a beneficiary [of Shriver’s efforts for civil rights],” said Ford. “One of the things I admire most [about Shriver] is that you’ve looked to the root of problems, you’ve strived for an enduring impact — not what sounds good at the moment.”
NBC-TV’s Tim Russert was delighted to moderate a panel discussion of Shriver’s many national and global contributions.

Following the panel, Shriver and Stossel signed copies of Sarge, published by the Smithsonian Institution Press, for a large number of well-wishers. The Shrivers five children, Robert Sargent Shriver III (Executive Producer of the A Very Special Christmas album series), Maria Owings Shriver Schwarzenegger (First Lady of California), Timothy Perry Shriver (Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics), Mark Kennedy Shriver (Vice President and Managing Director of U.S. Programs for Save the Children), and Anthony Paul Kennedy Shriver (Founder and Chairman of Best Buddies International), were all present for their father’s honor. They joined hundreds of others eager to pay their respects, including Special Olympics athletes and Paul Marretti, representing all the Sargent Shriver International Global Messengers, Special Olympics Director Jay Emmett, media luminaries John Stossel, Rita Braver, Art Buchwald, and numerous Shriver and Kennedy relatives.

“We don’t open the Bank to family parties,” said James D. Wolfensohn, President, The World Bank Group, explaining why the institution hosted the gathering. “Sargent Shriver’s career is the best exemplification of the spirit of this institution.” Wolfensohn has made sustainable poverty reduction the World Bank Group’s overarching mission.

“They say that ‘the meek will inherit the earth,’” said Kennedy. “Well, when the meek inherit the earth, they’ll inherit a large part of it from Sarge and Eunice.”

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Story Source: Special Olympics

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