Sargent Shriver Remembered

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January 18, 2011; Source: Washington Post | We urge you to read the full text of Colman McCarthy's appreciation in the Washington Post of the life of Sargent Shriver who died Tuesday at the age of 95.

Many of us owe our lives and careers in the nonprofit sector to the programs Sargent Shriver started during the Johnson Administration. In his appreciation Tuesday in the Washington Post, Colman McCarthy recognizes Shriver's contribution to the creation of Legal Services, Head Start, the Job Corps, the Community Action program, VISTA, Upward Bound – and of course the Peace Corps. He and his wife Eunice also established the Special Olympics.

One doesn't do all of that out of resume burnishing. Shriver really cared, personally and politically. Working as his speechwriter for three years, McCarthy describes Shriver as a person dealing with people around the nation involved in his many landmark programs: "It was a style of honest generosity that came naturally, a pole removed from the grip-and-grin fakeries of American politics."

McCarthy's column includes one of Shriver's famous statements (from a Peace Corps volunteers reunion in 1981) that deserves to be quoted in full: "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 come through strength. Quite the opposite: Strength comes through peace."

In comparison to some of the phonies that spend their time doing notice-me, PR-oriented service projects and glomming on to whatever celebrities they can find in the worlds of sports, entertainment, and politics, Shriver was the real deal. For those of us, like this NPQ author, who started their nonprofit careers at Community Action programs, organized and testified alongside Legal Services attorneys, and learned about integrity in politics from working for the McGovern-Shriver ticket in 1972, we owe Shriver more than we will ever be able to say in words.—Rick Cohen