When you hear the name Shriver many images come to mind – The Kennedy legacy, illustrous families, commitment to civic service, American royalty and bold face print. All true, but when this is your family, what comes to mind? Especially upon the passing of your famous patriarch. Those questions and more are the ones that Mark Shriver graples with in his new book, A Good Man: Rediscovering My Father Sargent Shriver.
During his recent popcorn trip to Dallas, I had the pleasure of chatting with Shriver about his book, Dallas, and what he thinks made his father an amazing man.
History tells the story of Sargent Shriver, and it reads as almost more myth and legend than that of a man — founder of the Peace Corps, Head Start, Job Corps, Upward Bound and the crafter of the “War on Poverty”. He was also a human rights activist, American statesman and active in the Special Olympics, founded by his wife Eunice. Shriver, the son, mentions these, but his focus seems to be on what kept his father going in the midst of a public and active life. He thoughts were on his search, his quest for the essence of what it meant to be a good man.
He notes that his Father’s commitment to his faith, family and his uncanny ability to communicate to people across culture and color lines and make people feel comfortable in his presence. He remembers fondly that Sargent Shriver made no distinction between the person making his lunch and those that he interacted with as Ambassador. He saw value in people and their work and used his life toward reinforcing that idea that through “integrity and compassion” we can do so much to make the lives of those around us brighter, lighter and more full of grace and by the same token begin to alleviate the burden of poverty on those that have been touched by it. As a result of this interactive life experience, I gathered from the conversation, that Sargent Shriver found joy and brought that joy to those around him. Listening to Shriver, the son, talk about Shriver, the father, made me wish that I could’ve met him and spent a few minutes witnessing an American legend in the flesh and inspired by the lessons passed from father to son.
In an intimate and moving testament to a son’s love and quest to deal with the grief of losing a fatherly mentor, as well as a detailed essay on man’s ability to be more than just a man, Mark Shriver conveys the message that “a good man” is one that lives fully, is generous, kind and that one leaves an intentional impact on his world and thereby making this world a better place for having been a part of it.
A Good Man: Rediscovering My Father Sargent Shriver is available in on line here and in bookstores nationwide.