Mark Shriver ‘86 Remembers His Father, Sargent Shriver, in his Memoir
Published: Friday, November 9, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 9, 2012 17:11
On Thursday, November 2, at 7:30 p.m., Holy Cross Alumnus Mark Shriver ‘86 gave a talk in Hogan Ballroom about his new book, “A Good Man: Rediscovering My Father, Sargent Shriver.” After Shriver graduated as a history major from Holy Cross, he joined the Maryland Juvenile Justice Advisory Council. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Public Justice Center, the Maryland Governor’s Task Force on Alternative Sanctions to Incarceration, and the Maryland Governor’s Commission on Service. Shriver’s book is a memoir about his father, Sargent Shriver, who died in January 2011 after suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease for ten years. Mark Shriver accredits his own social justice involvement to the inspiration of one man: his father.
Shriver founded The Choice Program in 1988 to help at-risk and delinquent youths make choices to help their families and communities. In 1994 he was elected to be a part of the Maryland House of Delegates as a representative for Montgomery County and was re-elected in 1998. In 1996, he worked on both the Task Force on the Maryland Prepaid-Tuition Savings Program and the Task Force to Study Governance, Coordination, and Funding of the University System of Maryland. He also gave the commencement speech at Holy Cross in 2010. Mr. Shriver is currently the senior vice president for the U.S. Programs for Save the Children.
Mr. Thomas Landy, head of the Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture, welcomed everyone who had turned out for the evening, including Representative McGovern, Marybeth McMahon, Virginia McSwain, and CSPAN crew. This day in particular was the 169th anniversary of Bishop Fenwick opening the College of the Holy Cross to six students. Then Reverend Anthony Kuzniewski, S.J., professor of history at Holy Cross, gave an account of Sargent Shriver’s long and prosperous life.
Sargent Shriver was born to a Catholic family in 1915 and attended Yale Undergraduate University and Yale School of Law. He then served in the Navy during World War II. He was award the Purple Heart and then went on to work for Newsweek Magazine under John Kennedy Senior. He married Eunice Kennedy, who founded the Special Olympics. Sargent Shriver went into politics as John F. Kennedy Junior’s Chair for Civil Rights Management. Shriver was the one who convinced JFK to make a phone call to Mrs. Coretta Scott King, which incidentally helped Kennedy to become President of the United States in 1960.
Sargent Shriver then became the founding Director of the Peace Corps, and from 1961 to 1963 it rapidly grew. At the request of Jackie Kennedy, Sargent Shriver planned JFK’s funeral after his assassination. Shriver was also a candidate for President Lyndon Johnson’s running mate for 1964 election, but he lost and instead was a head figure for President Johnson’s War on Poverty. The war in Vietnam took away a lot of money from Johnson’s poverty plan, but Sargent Shriver still managed to help one-third of those in poverty move upward. In 1993, Sargent Shriver was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. “Sargent Shriver had the spirit of a devout Catholic and was an inspiring father,” observed Reverend Kuzniewski.
“I’m glad that my father’s campaign career is described as dismal and disastrous. It’s a great welcome back to Holy Cross!” laughed Mark Shriver. However, his father’s failure in politics did not show at home or in his work for social justice. Shriver was compelled to write about his father “not to describe his achievements, but I wanted to find out how he was happily married for fifty-six years with kids and a devout Catholic.” After his father’s funeral, Shriver reminisced about all the people who described him as a “good man”. Shriver was awestruck that his father could make all people feel the same, from one-on-one to national levels. He wrote the book not only for himself but for people who wanted better relationships and faith.
“My father was willing to work with anyone, and I think that is what made him do exceedingly well,” stated Shriver. He also received help from his friend, Greg Jordan, with writing and researching for this memoir about his father. This book helped them both in different ways and they are very grateful.
Sargent Shriver seems to not only have impacted his son and immediate family, but the rest of the country. During the question and answer session, multiple people stepped up to tell Shriver how thankful they were for his father. Mark Shriver’s book will help a lot more people get to know Sargent Shriver.