In two short sentences, our Quote of the Week reveals the major challenges that Sargent Shriver saw as being fundamental for world leaders to tackle. In a career that was shaped by efforts to build peace, expand opportunity and achieve justice for all, the message of working together to secure human dignity was a defining one for Sargent Shriver.
Sarge spoke these words on the day he arrived in Paris to accept the post of US Ambassador to France. He was therefore speaking as the lead diplomat for the United States during a violent and tumultuous time. Protests were occurring at home as well as on the streets of Paris, as people demonstrated against racial and class discrimination in both countries. The war in Vietnam was continuing to escalate. In this context of increasing frustration, rage, and violence, Sargent Shriver arrived in Europe with a simple message: that at a basic level, if leaders work together to preserve dignity for all human beings, we can tackle even our most overwhelming challenges. But these were not just words for Sargent Shriver: as the architect of the Peace Corps as well as the War on Poverty, he had seen first-hand how preserving human dignity through expanding opportunity and safeguarding justice could transform the world, one community at a time.