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Tag: May 17 1961

Sargent Shriver and his Peace Corps guerrillas

I am convinced that if, in the future, our country is to meet the unparalleled opportunity to win friends and advance the cause of peace and freedom, thousands of additional Americans will have to step forward and say, “I will serve.”
—from the statement of Robert Sargent  Shriver, given in Chicago, IL, on May 17, 1961

Sargent Shriver and President Kennedy greet Peace Corps Volunteers to Ghana and Tanganyika in the West Wing Collonade at the White House, August 28, 1961.

Sargent Shriver and President Kennedy greet Peace Corps volunteers to Ghana and Tanganyika in the West Wing Collonade at the White House, August 28, 1961. (Kennedy Library; ARC 194174)

Robert Sargent Shriver (1915–2011) lived a long and full life, fighting in World War II as a gunner on a Navy boat during the the Battle of Guadalcanal, serving as the ambassador to France in the late 1960s, and joining the extensive Kennedy clan when he married Eunice Kennedy in 1953. He also ran as the vice-presidential candidate with George McGovern against Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew in 1972.

But in the National Archives, Sargent Shriver’s legacy is the Peace Corps. Shriver served as the first Director of the Peace Corps from 1961 to 1966. A search in the OPA database yields numerous Peace Corps documents, including the statement below, describing Shriver’s trip to eight countries to speak with heads of state and the men and women on the street about the possibility of Peace Corps volunteers coming to live and work there.

Sargent Shriver … [ Read all ]