More from Mark Shriver's book about his Dad

Mark Shriver writes in A Good Manout this June from Henry Holt — that he applied to the Peace Corps in his senior year at Holy Cross College.  “After waiting months to hear — no one [in our family] from my generation had yet been accepted into the program — I learned that I would serve as an English teacher in Paraguay.”

He then went with his Dad to the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Peace Corps held under a enormous tent on the Mall in Washington, D.C..

Sargent Shriver with Peace Corps Director Loret Ruppe under the big white tent.

Sargent Shriver with Peace Corps Director Loret Ruppe under the big white tent.

This was the famous reunion organized by the Returned Volunteer of Washington, not by any national group of RPCVs, nor by the Peace Corps agency. The Peace Corps, as we know, never organizes anything for RPCVs. “Dad . . . gave a terrific speech with a rousing finale,” Mark writes.”I was sitting in the front row, proud of him and motivated to serve.”

Mark goes on to quote from the closing of his father’s speech that warm September afternoon.

Peace Corps volunteers come home realizing that there are billions of human beings not enraptured by our pretensions, or practices, or morals . . . billions of human beings with whom we must live in peace. PCVs learn that there’s more to life than money, more to life than the latest styles in clothes, cars, or cosmetics.

Suddenly I realized I do have a response to the original title given me for my speech. They asked me to talk about “the challenge of the Peace Corps.” The challenge is simple to express, difficult to fulfill.

PCVs, stay as you are . . . be servants of peace . . . work at home as you have worked abroad, humbly, persistently, intelligently. Weep with those who are sorrowful, rejoice with those who are joyful.

Teach those who are ignorant. Care for those who are sick. Serve your wives . . . serve your husbands . . . serve your families . . . serve your neighbors . . . serve your cities . . . serve the poor. Join others who serve.

Serve, serve, serve! That’s the challenge.

For in the end it will be the servants who save us all.

good-manThe place went crazy with applause, Mark Shriver writes in his book.  And “A few minutes after his speech, the emcee announced that I was joining the Peace Corps. He asked me to stand, and everyone clapped. I was the first of my generation to enroll in my father’s creation.”

Mark Shriver never did serve at a PCV English teacher in Paraguay.

He decided a month after his Dad spoke to thousands of RPCVs on the Mall that he couldn’t spend, as all of us did, two-and-a-half-year in a developing country.

As the end of the day, Mark Shriver became a  VISTA volunteer, another agency that his father’s had created, and was sent to rural Maryland where he writes in his book he “would help the poor right in his own backyard.”

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  • John, Why Mark Shriver never joined the Peace Corps often puzzled me. Your follow-up to your preview of Mark’s upcoming biography of Sarge explains why. Mark opted to join VISTA and work in rural America instead. There’s a world of difference between VISTA and the Peace Corps: think of the “Three Goals” set by the Peace Corps.

    But at least Mark took seriously his father’s plea that all of us serve others in need. As someone who scrapped an old idea of starting Ph.D graduate studies in English and, instead, returned from PCV service to labor in the War on Poverty in the South Bronx, I can appreciate Mark’s answering the call for work to be done in “our own backyard.”

    BTW, re your Feb. 22nd preview of the upcoming bio and Haile Selassie, did you know that the largest community of Ethiopians outside of Ethiopia itself is here in D.C.?

  • with all due respect to all thr work done by rpcv/washington, i think
    nan gear of pc/washington, lorette ruppe, and dozens of other donors large and small would dispute the cllaim tht the 25th
    anniversary had no support other than the local returnees. simply
    not true!!! if you’d like a copy of the final accounting of funds and
    expenditures, please refer to the 25th memorial reoprt…
    venceremos…

  • John, again re Mark Shriver’s “A Good Man: Rediscovering My Father, Sargent Shriver,” the book was released today, and Mark introduced it on cable TV this afternoon.

    In D.C., on Sunday, June 10th, Mark will present and sign his published memoir at Blessed Sacrament Church’s Library, 3630 Quesada Street, N.W. (near Chevy Chase Circle), starting at 11:30 a.m.

    In the same location a few years ago, Sarge himself signed Scott Stossel’s biography, “Sarge: the Life and Times of Sargent Shriver,” for me and others. Also at the Library several months ago, RPCV Chris Matthews presented and signed his book, “Jack Kennedy, Elusive Hero.”

    For sure, Mark will soon be on the road with “A Good Man . . .”, and hopefully at a bookstore near you.

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