Remembering Sargent Shriver

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Sargent Shriver, famed Kennedy in-law and founding director of the Peace Corps died on Tuesday at the age of 95. A vocal champion of humanitarian causes, Shriver was also the 1972 Democratic nominee for vice president. Here's how friends, Kennedy scholars and reporters are remembering him:

  • A Generous, Energetic Soul, observes Maureen Orth, a former Peace Corp volunteer, writing in Vanity Fair: "He laughed so easily and so frequently, and he had such enthusiasm and energy, that he made the idea of service pure fun. And he was right about where he stood with so many of us former Peace Corps volunteers—he was our founding father, an icon. All you had to do was utter his name—Sarge—and it immediately stood for giving your all and being your best."
  • Religion Used Him, writes Kennedy family biographer Laurence Leamer at The Huffington Post: "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."
  • A Compassionate Hero, writes Claudine Ebeid, a friend of Shriver's who traveled with him abroad to support the Special Olympics: "Throughout our trip Sarge maintained that same enthusiasm. Whether he was talking with a Special Olympics athlete or meeting with a government official, he gave each person his rapt attention. In my short trip with Sargent Shriver I learned an important lesson, that to touch the lives of many you must first begin by touching the life of just one individual."
  • 'One of the Major Figures of the Second Half of the Twentieth Century,' writes Shriver biographer and Atlantic deputy editor Scott Stossel. Stossel ticks off a list of Shriver's accomplishments:
-His pivotal role in getting John F. Kennedy elected President in 1960;
-Leading JFK's "talent hunt," staffing the cabinet and the upper levels of the Administration;
-Founding and leading the Peace Corps;
-Launching Head Start, Legal Services for the Poor, VISTA, and many other programs critical to the War on Poverty;
-Presiding over the Paris Peace Talks on Vietnam;
-Helping his wife to found the Special Olympics;
-Cultivating a generation of public servants who will continue to exert a powerful influence on American history for years to come.

“It helped and it hurt,” Shriver said. “Because you’re the president’s brother-in-law, you’re diminished for yourself. People think of you as, quote, ‘only the president’s brother-in-law.’ Even after Jack was killed, I was the brother-in- law of the former president of the United States or the brother-in-law of the attorney general or the brother-in-law of the senator. You’re always devalued. There were times I’d say to myself, Wouldn’t it be great if I could just get out from under and be myself?”

  • Shriver's Pitch for the Peace Corp  In this 1960s broadcast, Shriver describes the early days of the Peace Corp and how it defied expectations:

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