Chuck Ludlam and Paula Hirschoff talk with Brian Ross about the Peace Corps.
Archives for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Chuck Ludlam and Paula Hirschoff talk with Brian Ross about the Peace Corps.
Congressman Garamendi Joins 13 Colleagues Introducing Resolution Honoring Life and Legacy of Sargent Shriver
WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek, CA), who served as a Peace Corps volunteer with his wife Patti Garamendi in Ethiopia, introduced a resolution honoring the life and legacy of Sargent Shriver, the first director of the Peace Corps. House Resolution 64 is supported by 13 original co-sponsors: Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-CA), Education and Workforce Committee Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA), Natural Resources Ranking Member Edward Markey (D-MA), Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI), Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA), Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), Congressman James Langevin (D-RI), Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN), Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA), Congressman David Price (D-NC), Congressman Jose Serrano (D-NY), and Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA).
“Sargent Shriver was a true American hero, a selfless humanitarian, and a firm believer that America’s best days are still ahead. He was also a trusted friend and mentor. This resolution honors his storied life and legacy,” said Congressman Garamendi. “President Kennedy had the big idea, but it was Sarge who had the vision and drive to make the Peace Corps a remarkable success. His enthusiasm motivated Americans to join the Peace Corps and serve men, women, and children in every part of the globe, including Patti and me.”
Sarge’s profound dedication to improving the lives of others took many different and important paths, from leading the effort to end segregation in the Chicago public school system to the founding of the Peace Corps. Sarge’s work on the War on Poverty included the creation of Head Start, Job Corps, VISTA, Neighborhood Health Centers, Legal Services to the Poor, and Foster Grandparents among others.
“Sargent Shriver was a tireless crusader for peace and justice, willing to lend a hand wherever one was needed, and building institutions that could carry on the work into the future. His legacy - the children given a head start, the volunteers whose lives were changed and who changed lives in service around the globe, and the individuals with disabilities now treated with the dignity and respect they deserve - will continue for years to come,” said Congressman Chris Van Hollen.
“For fifty years, the programs Sargent Shriver helped to create have lifted millions of people out of poverty and provided thousands of Americans with once in a lifetime opportunities to serve their communities, gain the invaluable satisfaction that comes from helping others, and take the lessons learned to continue their service to others throughout their lives,” said Congressman Howard Berman. ”As a VISTA volunteer myself, Sargent Shriver’s compassion and vision inspired me, just as it inspired generation of Americans to answer the call to serve.”
“Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr. was a public servant in the truest sense of the word, promoting human dignity and peace throughout the world during his extraordinary and distinguished career,” said Congressman Edward J. Markey. “As the first director of the Peace Corps, a US ambassador and founder of such organizations as Head Start and Job Corps, he embodied a commitment to action spurred by a spirit of compassion, justice and excellence that Americans continue to follow to this day.”
“Sarge Shriver embodied the incredible, relentless spirit of public service that makes America great; and will forever hold a special place in our country’s history,” said Congressman Sam Farr. “As the first Director of the Peace Corps, I first met Sargent Shriver in 1963 in small town in Questa, New Mexico, when I was Peace Corps Trainee. Then and now, his commitment to peace building has touched millions of lives, both of the Americans who served and those they served with in communities around the world.”
“Sargent Shriver was the ultimate public servant,” said Congressman Jim Moran. “He supplied the inspirational energy and leadership that drove so many public initiatives, especially the Peace Corps, that served to make the world a better place.”
“Sargent Shriver was the best personification of President Kennedy’s call to serve our country,” said Congressman Jose Serrano. “His achievements were not a resumé but rather the story of a life of selfless service and patriotism. My life was most directly touched by Sargent Shriver’s efforts as director of the Office of Economic Opportunity under President Johnson. His efforts in creating Head Start, VISTA, the Community Action Program, and Legal Services for the poor helped lift many in my community in the Bronx out of poverty, and provided them with opportunities they would not have otherwise had. Many of the programs started by Sargent Shriver are today important parts of our social safety net, and continue to provide economic and social justice opportunities.”
“Sargent Shriver was a true American original,” said Congressman Jim McGovern. “He was a man of peace and a man of conscience. I’m pleased to join Rep. Garamendi and my other colleagues in paying tribute to him.”
Dorothy Hamilton, founder and CEO of the International Culinary Center (which includes the French Culinary Institute and the Italian Culinary Academy), will this coming April introduce a new course: the Estate Management Studies program. Its purpose is to ‘train a new caliber of household staff.’
As Dorothy recently told the Wall Street Journal, “I have a couple of homes and a few people who worked for me. It always fell to the wife to run the home. I thought there are a lot of women in my position, who were looking for a chief of staff.”
To ‘run’ this course, Dorothy has found perhaps the perfect person. Christopher Ely!
Who you ask is Christopher Ely? Well, he has to be English, and indeed he is. Ely started his career when he was 18 as a footman at Buckingham Palace, working for Prince Charles and Princess Diana in the good (and bad) old days. Most recently, and most famously, he worked for Brooke Astor, and it was Christopher who gave enough testimony at the trial of Anthony Marshall–Astor’s son–that the son was convicted in 2009 of defrauding his mother’s estate .
If you are, however, schooled by Ely in Dorothy Hamilton’s new school, you will focus on 20 skill sets within ‘the framework of household cleaning and organization.” You learn how to polish silver, for example, and organize closets (where can I sign up?) and how to really make a bed and keep the pipes from freezing over the winter at the family country estate. Each unit will take a week, it will cost in the range of $1,700, but you’ll earn a certificate that is suitable for framing!
Dorothy is setting up classrooms now for the spring program at her Center on the corner of Broadway and Grand, downtown in Manhattan. Apply early. Tell her Hudson sent you.
[Dennis Grubb (Colombia 1961-63) send me these notes from the Wake and Mass]
At Holy Trinity Church , Georgetown ( JFK’s neighborhood church) along with several hundred “Shriver friends, exPCV’s, Special Olympics staff , exOEO staff “” 5 children, 19 grandchildren, the ex Governor of California . Along with many RPCV’s ( Jerry Critchley, Georgina McGuire, Maureen Carroll) and I attended the wake and eulogies for Sarge. Barney Hopewell and Dan Wemoff of my Group were cited in the early condolence line and before the official program began at 6:45
C-Span was there and if you are interested in the eulogies delivered by Bill Moyers, Chris Dodd, Maureen Orth ( Colombia XIII), Steny Hoyer ( D-MD) ,C.Payne Lucas (PC Director-Africa),and Washington Post columnist Coleman McCarthy check the C-Span achieves.
At the unique mass for Sarge at Our Lady of Mercy in Potomac , Maryland about 10 miles from downtown Washington Sarge family. friends and apostles were the feature of the day. Anthony Shriver opened the gathering by welcoming everyone on behalf of the family . He conclude his remarks by asking the congregation ,which include President Clinton, VP Biden, Michelle Obama Nancy Pelosi , the Maryland Senators and Congressman, the Governor and hundreds of friends including ex Peace Corps Volunteers, Head Start parents, Special Olympic athletes to read aloud and affirm a pledge to Sarge , and to ourselves to be his Apostles. The Mass of Christian Burial and Holy Communion officiated by Washington’s Cardinel Wherl ( Sarge was baptized , married and buried by a Cardinal) followed.
The pledge: I hope you remember to believe in things until you die. I hope you remember to be guided by beliefs powerful enough to change the world. I hope you remember the example of the Peace Corps volunteer, The Head Start parent, the Special Olympics athlete. They each in their own way, are waging peace. Maybe you will even remember me and my family. Remember the importance of family of giving and receiving of love. You have such a Chance! Oh, how, I wish I were you!!!!
Yale University Class Day
A Reception attend by 500 at the Congressional Country Club in Potomac followed with 500 friends and notables in attendance. Peace Corps types included Chris Dodd (DR 6), Pat Wand ( Colombia 8), Maureen Orth (Colombia XIII), Chris Matthews ( Malawi), Bill Josephson ( PC General Consul), Rossie Drummond , Wendy Grieder ( Recruiting), and , of course many I couldn’t identified.
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.
[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.
Thomas Tighe (Thailand 1986-88; PC/HQ 1995-2000) is now CEO of Direct Relief International, biggest medical supplier to Haiti (directrelief.org): As quoted in Politico Playbook this morning: ”One year ago tomorrow [Jan. 12] in Haiti — a country the size of Maryland — more people died in a matter of minutes from the earthquake than have been killed by all the natural disasters in the history of the United States. The scale of human tragedy caused by Haiti’s earthquake defies comprehension: 230,000 people killed, 1.3 million people displaced, and 194,000 injured. Those who survive now carry the hope and challenge of rebuilding a country. Of course help is still needed to get through and get better. The health challenges alone are steep and threatening, from the systemic level all the way down to very basic access to things like a health professional, medicines, IV solutions, and even soap. Long after the headlines have faded, the recovery work is being fueled by the generosity of so many.”
And Thomas Tighe might also asked, “And where in the hell are the Crisis Corps Volunteers?” (a.k.a. Peace Corps Response Corps)
As of today, January 11, 2011, according to the Peace Corps Response Office, “no plans to send PCVs.”
A New York Times op-ed column this morning (Tuesday, January 11, 2011) by David Brooks entitled “The Politicized Mind” focuses on Jared Loughner and the shooting rampage in Tucson and quotes from a book by Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, a research psychiatrist, who wrote (among other books) The Insanity Offense. Torrey was a Peace Corps doctor (Ethiopia 1964-66) and is married to an RPCV, Barbara Boyle (Tanzania 1963-65).
The Brooks column is generating a lot of ‘heat’ for statements such as “..the political opportunism occasioned by this tragedy has ranged from the completely irrelevant to the shame irresponsible” and slamming such noted liberals as Gary Hart, Keith Olbermann, Daily Kos, and the Huffington Post.
Torry’s book is the calm center of today’s op-ed piece. Quoting from it, Brooks uses Torry’s research to show that about 1 percent of the seriously mentally ill (or about 40,000 individuals) are violent. They account for about half the rampage murders in the United States. Brooks ends his column by quoting again from Fuller’s book, writing, “Torry’s book describes a nation that has been unable to come up with a humane mental health policy–one that protects the ill from their own demons and society from their rare but deadly outbursts.”
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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