"The Peace Corps represents some, if not all, of the best virtues in this society. It stands for everything that America has ever stood for. It stands for everything we believe in and hope to achieve in the world."
In January, 1961, President Kennedy was sworn-in, and his inaugural address reverberated throughout the country and the world when he said, “Let the word go forth that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans…To those peoples in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves…”
The next day, President Kennedy called on his brother in law, Sargent Shriver, asking him to lead a task force to establish what we know today—50 years later—as the Peace Corps. Robert Sargent Shriver Jr. became founder and first director of the Peace Corps, and later the architect of President Johnson's War on Poverty. Since 1961, more than 200,000 Peace Corps volunteers and trainees have served in 139 countries—including the 8,655 volunteers serving today.
Sargent Shriver died on January 18, 2011 at the age of 95, following a years-long decline due to Alzheirmer's.
Shriver married John F. Kennedy's sister, Eunice Kennedy, in 1953. The two started the Special Olympics, which became a worldwide movement. She died at age of 88 in 2009.
"Our dad, Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr., lovingly known as 'Sarge,' today went to heaven to join the love of his life, our mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. He was surrounded by his five children, five children in-law, and his 19 grandchildren," the family said in a statement on the day of his passing.
"He was a man of giant love, energy, enthusiasm, and commitment. He lived to make the world a more joyful, faithful, and compassionate place. He centered everything on his faith and his family. He worked on stages both large and small but in the end, he will be best known for his love of others. No one ever came into his presence without feeling his passion and his enthusiasm for them. He loved God, he loved Eunice, he loved us, he loved anyone who was a servant of peace, justice or joy. He loved life."
In tribute to Sargent Shriver, in recognition of his accomplished leadership, immense skill, audacious vision and indefatigable energy, we dedicate The Living Village—the physical centerpiece of Engineering & Humanity Week 2011—to this outstanding American.
As you walk through The Living Village, where students will live, cook their meals, and sleep in temporary shelters designed to house people displaced by war and natural disasters, we urge you to reflect on the contributions of Sargent Shriver, whose legacy outlives him. Confirmed through the lens of a half-century's experience, Sargent Shriver's idealism, enthusiasm and commitment to service were essential to the success of the Peace Corps. The SMU hilltop shines a little brighter this week because of Sargent Shriver. We are honored to have Anthony Shriver speak at the dedication of The Living Village to his father.