From the Sargent Shriver Peace Institute



Quote of the Week

“I recommend that we remember the beginning of the Peace Corps. We risked everything at our beginning in a leap of faith that the Peace Corps would succeed.  … We were a Corps, a band of brothers and sisters united in the conviction that if we worked hard enough to eradicate our fears, and increase the outreach of our love, we truly could avoid war, and achieve peace within our own selves, within our nation, and around the world.”

Sargent Shriver | Washington, DC | September 22, 2001

Our Quote of the Week honors two milestones we’re celebrating this month: the anniversary of Sargent Shriver’s tenure with the Peace Corps, and the birthday William “Bill” Josephson, our senior advisor and a close friend and colleague of Sargent Shriver’s.

On March 22, 1961, President Kennedy appointed Sargent Shriver to the post of Director of the Peace Corps. At the time, the Peace Corps was just an idea, and Sarge was tasked with turning that idea into reality. From working on Peace Corps legislation, to creating its organizational structure, recruiting the first volunteers, and placing those volunteers in countries around the world, Sargent Shriver was able to build an American institution driven by citizen ambassadors and dedicated to service and foreign policy.

March 22 also happens to be the birth date of Bill Josephson, a central figure for the Peace Corps, for Sargent Shriver, and for us at SSPI.

Along with Warren Wiggins, Bill Josephson was a co-author of The Towering Task, the strategic document that captured Sargent Shriver’s imagination in 1961 and that laid the groundwork for the building of the Peace Corps. Bill worked with Sargent Shriver at the Peace Corps until 1966, serving as Special Assistant to the Director and later as General Counsel.

The partnership that the two men forged in the 1960s would continue until Sargent Shriver’s passing in 2011. Bill served as a director on Sargent Shriver’s 1972 Vice Presidential campaign. Both men were partners at the same law firm, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. Last but certainly not least, the two were lifelong friends.

The Peace Corps milestones that motivated our Quote of the Week remind us that “peace and friendship,” to quote The Peace Corps’ mission, can be achieved through the efforts and creativity of people who dedicate themselves to collaboration and service.


Leave a comment
  • Thanks so much for this John. These are wonderful remembrances of those early times and those instrumental in the Corps’ creation. It was an inspiration and honor to serve under Shriver.

  • I think all of us early volunteers have been proud to have been a part of that time, belief, and effort. And hope that maybe a later generation will renew the thought and effort. John Turnbull Ghana-3 Geology and Nyasaland/Malawi-2 Geology Assignment.

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