What does it take to create a better future for our children?
With the passing of Sargent Shriver yesterday, January 18th, we remember a leader with an inspiring vision for a better world, who strove to create opportunities where they did not exist.
A man who “came to embody the idea of public service,” as President Obama described him, Shriver was the first director of the Peace Corps during President Kennedy’s administration, turning the modest project into a respectable powerhouse of international volunteerism. Under President Johnson’s administration, Shriver created the Office of Economic Opportunity and is known as the ‘architect’ of the Johnson administration’s War on Poverty. He founded, among others, Head Start, VISTA, the Job Corps, Community Action, Upward Bound, Foster Grandparents, the Special Olympics, Legal Services, the National Clearinghouse for Legal Services (now the Shriver Center), Indian and Migrant Opportunities, and Neighborhood Health Services.
In thinking about the topics that The Future of Children seeks to address, it is difficult to imagine one that Sargent Shriver did not touch. Our volumes on The Next Generation of Antipoverty Policies and Opportunity in America, in particular, build on Sargent’s work.
His family remembers him as “a man of giant love, energy, enthusiasm, and commitment. He lived to make the world a more joyful, faithful, and compassionate place.”
Sargent Shriver’s values and life’s work provide an example for other visionaries who strive to create a more humane world for our children.
As Woodrow Wilson said, “you are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world.” Clearly, Sargent Shriver did.