Sunday, January 23, 2011
The 50th anniversary of JFK's Inauguration on January 20 begins a host of such anniversaries of the Kennedy years. Shortly it will be of the founding of the Peace Corps, just months after its founding director, Sargent Shriver, passed away at the age of 95.
Nobody embodied the energy, the "vigah" of the JFK administration more than Sargent Shriver, the first director of the Peace Corps. I was inspired by his enthusiasm and his book about the Peace Corps (though it was apparently written mostly by a future PA Senator, Harris Wofford.) He gave substance to the Kennedy emphasis on idealism and service, and many in my generation answered the call. Shriver not only built the Peace Corps, but as the first head of the Office of Economic Opportunity which ran the LBJ War on Poverty, he supervised the invention of Head Start and VISTA, the domestic Peace Corps. With his wife Eunice Kennedy Shriver, he started the Special Olympics, and together they championed the cause. Even when he himself succumbed to Alzheimer's Disease, his prominence enabled his family to help bring this condition out of the shadows.
Here's his obituary at the Washington Post, and an article about him, the Peace Corps and Martin Luther King at the New Yorker. Here's a tribute in Vanity Fair, and one by Bono.