Sargent Shriver's Marching Orders: Four Steps to a Life of Public Service

Jan 18, 2011· 1 MIN READ
Salvatore Cardoni holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.
First Peace Corps Leader Sargent Shriver, seen here in 1964, dies at 95. (Photo: John Dominics/Time and Life Pictures via Getty Images)

Sargent Shriver, the first Director of the Peace Corps, has died of natural causes in a Washington, D.C., area hospital, according to multiple reports. He was 95.

In early 1961, Shriver was asked by his brother-in-law, President John F. Kennedy, to mold a new agency that would come to symbolize the idealism of the 1960s—the Peace Corps, an organization that has sent thousands of Americans into developing countries to volunteer.

"Over the course of his long and distinguished career, Sargent came to embody the idea of public service,” said President Obama in a statement.

Writing in The Atlantic, Shriver biographer Scott Stossel heaped praise onto the former Vice Presidential candidate and WWII veteran:

Shriver may have helped more people around the world than any twentieth century American who wasn't a president, politician, or Martin Luther King.

In addition to leading the Peace Corps, Shriver also:

— Launched Head Start, Legal Services for the Poor, VISTA, and many other programs essential to Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty

—Presided over the Paris Peace Talks on the Vietnam War

—Helped his wife Eunice found the Special Olympics in 1968

Arnold Schwarzenegger celebrates his election to Governor of California with his wife's parents, Sargent and Eunice Shriver, in October 2003. (Photo: Blake Sell/Reuters)

“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," Shriver once said, according to the Peace Corps website.

Here are four ways—some big, others small—in which you can act today to honor Shriver’s legacy to service:

Volunteer with the Peace Corps

Become a member of the National Head Start Association

Become a member of VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America)

Donate to the Special Olympics