(The CNN videos are great eulogies at the Funeral, especially Clinton’s)
Archives for Peace Corps staff
A spokesperson for the Shriver Family suggested that the best place to send a note or card to the family would be:
1133 19th Street
Washington, D.C. 20036
[If you could, please forward this address onto RPCV friends. Not everyone checks this website (well, it is an imperfect world).]
Speaking at the wake this afternoon/evening will be Bill Moyers, first Deputy Director of the Peace Corps; Maureen Orth (Colombia PCV); C. P. Lucas (CD Niger, and African Regional Director 1962-67); Colman McCarthy, and others.
OPEN TO PUBLIC
Friday, January 21
4:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Holy Trinity Catholic Church
Colman McCarthy, a former Washington Post columnist, directs the Center for Teaching Peace and teaches courses on nonviolence at four Washington area universities and two high schools. He is a long time friend of the Peace Corps, and, of course, Sargent Shriver.
Sargent Shriver: A life of grace
by Colman McCarthy
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
IT TOOK ONLY A WALK with Sargent Shriver to learn how deeply loved and loving he was. Former Peace Corps volunteers, from the early days of the program that he began in 1961, or ones just back from stints in Third World outposts, would stop Sarge to thank him, embrace him and tell him stories about their life-changing service.
Countless others approached him on airport concourses, city sidewalks and elsewhere: people whose lives were changed because of the anti-poverty programs that Shriver started in the Johnson administration - Legal Services, Head Start, Job Corps, Community Action,VISTA, Upward Bound. Or the parents of children in Special Olympics, the program began by Shriver and his wife, Eunice, that revolutionized the way we treat those with mental disabilities. Occasionally, it was someone from Massachusetts who voted for the McGovern-Shriver ticket in the 1972 presidential campaign - Massachusetts and the District being the only places they won while the rest of America, narcotized, backed the soon-to-be disgraced Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.
In the three years - 1966-69 - that I worked as Sarge’s speechwriter, traveling companion and suitcase carrier, I saw hundreds of these random moments. Hale and always effulgent, Sarge gave full attention to each greeter. It was a style of honest generosity that came naturally, a pole removed from the grip-and-grin fakeries of American politics.
At his death Tuesday, after years of Alzheimer’s disease, the legions with whom Shriver had shared himself were no doubt recalling those chance run-ins as encounters with grace.
It was certainly that way for me. In the summer of 1966, I was roaming the country writing freelance articles about the civil rights movement: a week in Cicero, Ill., where Martin Luther King Jr. was trying to integrate housing; a week in Mound Bayou, Miss., an all-black Delta community scraping by. I sold a story to the National Catholic Reporter, a nascent liberal weekly already on its way to becoming a beacon of conscience-based journalism.
Sarge happened to read it. He tracked me down, not to jab back about the program of his I had criticized but to say that he had a staff opening for “a no-man, because I already have enough yes-men.” He was running the newly created Office of Economic Opportunity and needed help with speeches, he said. He invited me to Washington for an interview.
I thought my chances were nil. Months before, I had emerged from a Trappist monastery in Georgia where strictly cloistered priests and brothers were God’s inmates. Five years with no newspapers, magazines, television or other damnable frivolities, I’d been bricked out of secular society. Why would Shriver hire me?
For the make-or-break interview, we went to dinner. For four hours, the talk was not about pending legislation, Lyndon Johnson’s White House or Republican attacks on the Peace Corps. Instead, it was theology and spirituality, the turf on which I been trodding, however unsteadily.
Shriver, amazingly, wanted to discuss Thomas Merton, Flannery O’Connor, Hans Kung, Tertullian, Leon Bloy, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and others. He told of inviting Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker to speak at Yale during his student days. A couple of times I couldn’t keep up, as when he riffed on the differences between the early, middle and late writings of Saint Teresa of Avila.
At dinner’s end, Sarge hired me - a flashpoint moment in my life. A spirited public orator, he needed a speechwriter like Stradivari needed help stringing violins. Once at work, I learned that I wasn’t the only one with a background in religion. He was hiring so many former nuns and priests that OEO could have stood for Office of Ecclesiastical Outcasts.
Sarge’s Catholicism ranged from ordinary pieties — a rosary was always in his pocket — to mindfulness of the church’s teachings on social justice and nonviolence.
It infused his thinking, as when he said in 1981 at a 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!”
For four decades, Sarge was my closest friend outside of my family. I said goodbye to him a few days ago during a visit at his apartment. I thanked him for everything. He had difficulty speaking, so he communicated by reaching for my hand. He kissed it and held it for half an hour, without a word between us. None was needed. He was saying that he loved me, the way he told all those people at airports and byways that they, too, were lovable.
Public Funeral Mass, Saturday, January 22
The funeral Mass will be held at Our Lady of Mercy in Potomac, MD on Saturday, January 22, and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington will be the principal celebrant and homilist. Due to the overwhelming outpouring of condolences and public sentiment regarding the impact of Mr. Shriver’s life–and to honor the spirit of their father–the family has decided to open the funeral Mass to the public with the hope that his life’s work will inspire others to continue his legacy of service.
Address: Our Lady of Mercy, 9200 Kentsdale Drive Potomac, Maryland
Sargent Shriver, the Peace Corps, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Posted by Peter Hessler
Sargent Shriver and John F. Kennedy greet Peace Corps volunteers, 1962.
R. Sargent Shriver died today, just after the holiday to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., and not long before the fiftieth anniversary of the Peace Corps’ founding. Shriver would have had something to say about both occasions. One of his defining moments occurred in 1960, when he worked on the Presidential campaign for his brother-in-law, John F. Kennedy. Initially, Kennedy avoided expressing support for King, because he worried about losing white votes in the South. In October of that year, King was arrested after an Atlanta sit-in, and he was threatened with a jail sentence on trumped up charges. Coretta Scott King was terrified that her husband would be murdered while in custody-she was pregnant at the time-and she telephoned Harris Wofford, a law professor at Notre Dame University. Wofford called Shriver, who said, “Give me her number and get me out of jail if I’m arrested for speeding.” He knew that Kennedy was at an airport hotel in Chicago, preparing to leave for another campaign stop.
But once Shriver got to Kennedy, he was smart enough to wait. Realizing that the candidate’s advisors would oppose any gesture of support, he kept silent until Kenneth O’Donnell, one of the top aides, went to the bathroom. “Why don’t you telephone Mrs. King and give her your sympathy?” Shriver said, when he was alone with Kennedy. “Negroes don’t expect everything will change tomorrow, no matter who’s elected. But they do want to know whether you care. If you telephone Mrs. King, they will know you understand and will help. You will reach their hearts and give support to a pregnant woman who is afraid her husband will be killed.”
“That’s a good idea,” said Kennedy. “Why not? Do you have her number? Get her on the phone.”
By the time O’Donnell made it off the toilet, the damage was done. Bobby Kennedy later yelled at Shriver for taking such a risk, but even he followed through on his brother’s gesture, calling key officials in Georgia. Within a day, King was released, and he told reporters that Senator Kennedy deserved full credit: “For him to be that courageous shows that he is really acting upon principle and not expediency.” It proved to be a crucial moment in a close campaign, as black voters turned out in large numbers to support Kennedy. (This story is recounted in Stanley Meisler’s new book about the Peace Corps, “When the World Calls,” to be published next month.)
Shriver was a deceptively effective politician. He never won an election, and he was overshadowed by the Kennedys, who discouraged him from seeking office at key moments. Certainly he made an unusual figure in that family. “We’re nicer than the Kennedys,” Shriver’s mother once told a reporter. According to Shriver’s biographer, he was still a virgin when, at the age of thirty-seven, and after five long years of courtship, he married Eunice Kennedy. Bobby Kennedy referred to him as a Boy Scout. Others in the family called him the House Communist. When Kennedy appointed him as the first director of the Peace Corps, many believed it was a sure ticket to obscurity. But Shriver built the agency with remarkable speed; less than six months after the Peace Corps was founded, it sent its first volunteers to Ghana. Shriver proved to be even better at getting publicity. Volunteer assignments were announced in newspapers across America, and even minor staff positions were noted in The New York Times. In 1961, the agency’s first year, The New Yorker published no fewer than five cartoons about the Peace Corps.
Nowadays, former volunteers tend to be wistful about those early days. Shriver left the Peace Corps after only five years-he had instituted a rule that nobody should exceed that span of time at the agency-and he went on to help shape a number of other prominent organizations, including the Special Olympics, Head Start, and VISTA. Meanwhile, the Peace Corps lost popularity during the Vietnam years, and it’s never fully recovered. Today there are barely more than half as many volunteers worldwide as there were during Shriver’s final year. Recently there’s been a successful push for more funding (I wrote about this in the magazine last month), but even the Peace Corps’s staunchest supporters tend to believe that the agency needs major reform. Other programs like Teach for America enjoy much more attention, and despite a half century of work, it’s hard to define exactly how the Peace Corps has affected both the world and American society. In a nation that tends to celebrate momentous events and sweeping change, the Peace Corps has usually been about quieter, more personal interactions. But this was something that Sargent Shriver always understood. As director, he sent writers all around the world to create detailed reports about the various Peace Corps programs, and at bedtime he loved reading about the experiences of individual volunteers. These moments can be hard to capture and communicate; they have a quicksilver quality and sometimes they’re tinged with sadness. In 1963, the day after the funeral of President Kennedy, a beggar approached Donna Shalala, who would someday become the secretary of health and human services, but who at that time was a Peace Corps volunteer in Iran. “No, I don’t have any money,” Shalala said, preëmpting the request.
“I don’t want money,” the beggar said. “I just want to tell you how sorry I am that your young president died.”
Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2011/01/sargent-shriver-the-peace-corps-and-martin-luther-king-jr.html#ixzz1BaxOuqVY
[This blog was posted this morning by RPCV writer Larry Leamer on Huffington Post website. Larry's most recent book is Madness Under the Royal Palms: Love and Death Behind the Gates of Palm Beach.]
When I joined the Peace Corps in 1964, Sargent Shriver was my hero. I was stationed two days from a road in the mountains of the Himalayan kingdom and I never met the director of the Peace Corps. But he inspired me. He was “Sarge” to all of us, and we often talked about him. He visited Nepal once, this exuberant, inspiring presence who believed that the only thing higher than Mt. Everest was the human spirit. He thought people were capable of anything, even me. We just had to do it.
When I started my trilogy on the Kennedy family in the late eighties, I got to know Sarge, and I realized it was not easy being married to a Kennedy. Sarge was a Shriver, scion of a distinguished old Baltimore family, but once he married Eunice Kennedy, he was a Kennedy. He wanted to run for governor of Illinois in 1960, but his brother-in-law was running for president, and the Kennedys always came first. When Sarge ran for president in 1976, his brother-in-law Senator Edward Kennedy was less than helpful. The presidency was for a “real” Kennedy not a mock one.
Sarge was an elegant man. His liberalism was passionate and sincere but he lacked the common touch. He was profoundly and authentically religious. Unlike many politicians, he did not use religion. Religion used him. He had serious religious studies on his bed stand and he went to mass every morning. I asked him once why he did so and he said it was because he needed God’s help so much to get through the day. That was not a Sarge most people saw.
Sarge was ninety-five and lived an incredibly rich and productive life, and much of my sadness today is about his greatest creation, the Peace Corps. In 2003, Sarge gave a speech at Yale University in which he said, “We didn’t go far enough! Our dreams were large, but our actions were small. We never really gave the goal of ‘World Wide Peace’ an overwhelming commitment or established a clear, inspiring vision for attaining it. If we had, the world wouldn’t be in the mess we are in, and what could have been should have been.”
The truth is that the organization he founded is in every way diminished. Two years ago I volunteered with a program of the National Peace Corps Association of returned volunteers to try to get Congress to raise the Peace Corps budget dramatically pushing toward President Obama’s announced goal of doubling the corps by the fiftieth anniversary this year. As I got into it, I saw that it wasn’t just the numbers that needed to be increased. The organization needed to be reformed, torn apart and built anew the way Sarge would have done it.
After 9/11 the Peace Corps had lost its way, concerned more with security than change, pulling out of a number of crucial countries, building high walls behind which the directors lived in almost as exalted a fashion as the ambassadors. The attrition rate was horrible, many of the programs deeply flawed. And the bureaucrats in Washington went home early and did not listen to the volunteers.
People like Senator Chris Dodd, himself a returned volunteer, and Senator Patrick Leahy, knew that there were serious problems but they did nothing. Dodd backed off a bill that would have begun the reforms. NPCA took money from the Peace Corps to publish the volunteer magazine and was hopelessly compromised. I coined the slogan “Bold New Peace Corps” to suggest that it was not just money that was needed but change. I called all kinds of national media trying to get them to do a story on what was wrong. Nobody would do anything. A political editor at NPR was at least honest. He said, “Nobody cares.” I kept pushing at NPCA. I upset too many people and nobody at the organization cared about reform. I was pushed out of having any further involvement with the campaign.
Last Friday, in the biggest story the Peace Corps has had in years, ABC’s 20/20 did a devastating report on the 1,078 female volunteers who have been sexually assaulted or raped during the past decade. If I extrapolate correctly from these figures, that means that a woman has roughly a one in twenty five chance of being attacked. These are the Peace Corps figures and one would assume that many women remain quiet. The ABC story reported by Brian Ross and produced by Anna Schecter had six brave women on camera talking about how their abuse did not end once their attacker or attackers left them. In several cases, the Peace Corps shuttled them out of the country and forget them.
ABC also interviewed Chuck Ludlum, a vociferous critic of the Peace Corps who has done prodigious work documenting all kinds of problems. That was clearly not as intriguing a subject to 20/20’s viewers, and his segment was cut. But that story is out there waiting to be done, and 20/20 was only a beginning.
I know that some of my fellow returned volunteers are reading this and thinking, “Why does he write this now on the very day Sarge died.” I write it now because on this evening I remember Sarge as he was and I remember his dream and I know how far away from that we have come.
As many of you did, I watched the ABC 20/20 program last Friday night that included a segment entitled “Scandal Inside the Peace Corps: Investigation into whether the Peace Corps puts women into dangerous situations.” I felt a great deal of sympathy for those involved - Katie Puzey, who was murdered March 12, 2009 in Benin, her family, and the RPCV women who stepped forward to tell their stories of being attacked while serving overseas.
And to see Katie smiling out from the past in a homemade video shot by her cousin who visited her site only months before the brutal murder was breathtakingly sad.
I also felt very sorry for the Peace Corps’ new deputy director, Carrie Hessler-Radelet, who endured endless 20/20 questions: “What did the Peace Corps Administration know? When did they know it?” Carrie was unable or unwilling to answer anything. It appeared by the end of the long interrogation that the Peace Corps Deputy Director was a woman who had been left to hang out to dry by the agency. I know Carrie was interviewed for two hours, but only snippets of her answers made it to the final edit. Nowhere was it mentioned that Carrie, too, had served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, or that she has devoted her life to raising a family while working internationally in the non-profit world.
The Deputy Director has a difficult job, but unlike others top administrators of the agency, she stepped forward to be interviewed about events and circumstances that took place 15 months before she was appointed to the position. She played the best hand she could.
Indeed, this wasn’t Carrie’s finest moment with the Peace Corps. Nor has the handling of Katie Puzey’s murder been the finest hour for the agency.
The Peace Corps screwed up in Benin, and in Washington, D.C (both in handling Katie’s murder and in handling this interview). It isn’t the first time the Peace Corps has screwed up administratively, as well we know from our own experiences, and it certainly won’t be the last. But what is most troubling is that a PCV died because of the carelessness of agency employees who were responsible for her wellbeing.
Let me also say - and all of us RPCVs know - that, in the Peace Corps, Volunteers are for the most part on their own. It is what the Peace Corps is all about. We live with the host country nationals, obeying the rules and regulations and customs of the host country. It is not easy. And at times, as it was in Benin, it can be dangerous and deadly. That is why being a Peace Corps Volunteer is the toughest job you’ll ever have - and at times it is without the love.
[End of Part One]
TODAY the beloved architect and first Director of the Peace Corps Sargent Shriver died. Peace Corps Worldwide invites you to leave your comments and remembrances of Sarge.
For those living in the Washington, DC area, Peace Corps Headquarters has a book of condolences available for the public to sign for Shriver’s family. It is located just within the entrance to the building at 1111 20th Street, N.W.
(Photo by Rowland Scherman)
People are still asking that question as we approach the half century of the agency. Back in May of 1966, Joseph Colman, who was then the Acting Associate Director of the Peace Corps for Planning, Evaluation, and Research, published a paper in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences. I tracked down a copy of Colman’s paper that reports on several studies of motivation for joining the agency.
One was done in 1962 of 2,612 applications’ replies to a motivational question on the application form; another in a 1963 interview study of why people who apply later decline a specific invitation to enter training; and the third was a 1964 interview study of college seniors and their interest in the Peace Corps. Colman’s paper concludes [not surprisingly] that Volunteers can be successful in the Peace Corps with a variety of motivations for joining.
In 1960, before the Peace Corps was started, Maurice Albertson at Colorado State University investigated motivation for Peace Corps-type service came up with a desire to broaden personal background and experience ranked; it ranked first. Concern for people in developing countries was a close second, and value to career and adventure ranked last.
Colman–looking all all these studies–found that the reasons for joining the agency changed in respect to the predominantly heavy weight given to the service nature of the Peace Corps, the “giving” dimension. He sums up his paper: “Some reasons [for joining the Peace Corps] probably dip into the unconscious; others are only reluctantly discussed or admitted; still others are too multidimensional to sort out.”
He states six psychological factors which are behind the desire to apply. In short, they are:
2) Independence from parents
3) Search for one’s own values
4) Worth-while service goals
5) Desire to be need and recognized
6) Chance for a ‘political’ experience
In the mid-’90s when I was managing the New York Recruitment Office I would ask Apps why they were joining the Peace Corps. There were two basic reasons. Older Volunteers, i.e., anyone over 30 said something like this, “I always wanted to join the Peace Corps since I first heard about it and now I’m going to do it!”
With I asked recent college graduates why they were joining, they would invariable say, “I had this teacher in middle-school and one day he/she brought into class slides of being in the Peace Corps, and I thought: I’m going to do that when I grow up!”
The Jesuits are famous for saying: give us a boy by the age of 8 and he’s ours for life. If the Peace Corps agency thought long-term (which they never do) they would start visiting middle-schools and leave colleges and universities alone.
About John Coyne Babbles
John Coyne Babbles is a collection of comments, opinions, musings, and outrages from this RPCV who served with the first group (1962-64) in Ethiopia.
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