Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Eunice Shriver died today. Headlines read "sister of JFK, sister of Bobby Kennedy, wife of Sargent Shriver, sister of Teddy Kennedy." While the headlines are technically true, Eunice Shriver may well leave the greatest Kennedy Legacy of all.

In a time when women born to a privileged family life became debutantes, socialites, wives and mothers, Eunice Shriver wanted more. It's been said time and again that Joe Kennedy, patriarch of the Kennedy clan helped push his sons to achieve greatness. From what I see, Eunice Shriver didn't need any pushing. She just went out and got the job done.

She earned a sociology degree from Stanford University in 1943. She became a social worker at a women's prison in West Virginia and later in the 1950s worked with the juvenile court in Chicago. Following that she took over the foundation named after her eldest brother, a foundation founded with the goal of improving the treatment of the mentally disabled.

She married and raised five children with her husband. She has been dealing with the onset of Alzheimer's disease in her husband, and from personal experience (my beloved father had Alzheimer's) that itself is a personal journey only the strong survive.

Eunice Shriver's largest contribution, however, was that of organizing The Special Olympics. Every four years The Special Olympics hosts more than 6,500 athletes from over 150 countries that allows the mentally disabled to show the world they are more than capable of so much more if given the chance.

So I say thank you Eunice Shriver. Your legacy will go forward with your children and grandchildren and future generations yet to be born. We salute you for your contributions to the world. Surely your hard work and dedication are the true Kennedy legacy.

2 comments:

Don Didio said...

What a wonderful and well deserved tribute to Eunice Kennedy Shriver. I admired her so much. Thank you for your article.

Marge, Born Too Late Vintage said...

You're very welcome. When I was a teenager I worked on the weekends at the Hacienda De Los Angeles in Phoenix. I was an aide working with mentally and physically challenged children. My mom worked there full time. I loved those kids and they loved me. I learned so much more from those kids than they ever learned from me.

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