House of Representatives Honors the First Peace Corps Director for His Accomplishments

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 21, 2003 – As the first Peace Corps director, Sargent Shriver held as his motto that Americans should “participate directly, personally, and effectively in this struggle for human dignity.” Monday, the United States House of Representatives honored Shriver for his dedication to the Peace Corps and other service organizations by passing a resolution to show respect for his contributions to society.

The resolution honored Shriver “for his dedication and service to the United States of America, for his service in the United States Navy, and for his lifetime of work as an ambassador for the poor and powerless citizens of the United States of America, and for other purposes.” The House overwhelming passed the resolution by a vote of 325-3. The resolution was sponsored by Rep. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon of California and co-sponsored by 55 other representatives, including the five Representatives who are returned Peace Corps volunteers.

“Sargent Shriver rose to every challenge in taking the idea of Peace Corps and making that idea a reality. Thousands of volunteers and millions of people around the globe have been touched by the Peace Corps. Sargent Shriver’s impact on the Peace Corps made it the life-changing humanitarian organization that it is today,” said Director Gaddi H. Vasquez.

The House resolution paid tribute to Shriver for such accomplishments as his service in the Navy, his work as Ambassador to France, his contributions to the Special Olympics, and of course, his contributions to Peace Corps as the first director. The resolution also recognized the awards he received, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the country’s highest civilian honor, and honorary degrees from 24 universities around the world.

“As children, we all have visions and dreams of one day being able to change the world, to make a real difference to mankind, to be remembered,” said Rep. McKeon regarding the resolution. “But in reality, it is difficult to find a person who has actually done so. As an ambassador and advocate for the poor and powerless, as a man of strong conviction, faith, and devotion, as a man who genuinely loves his country and all that it stands for, it is safe to say that Sargent Shriver truly has made a difference in the world.”

Shriver served as the first director of Peace Corps from 1961-66. During his tenure, the Peace Corps opened programs in over 50 countries.

Since 1961, more than 170,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and awareness, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a two-year commitment.

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