A Good Man by Mark Shriver
I know what you are thinking: “another book about the Kennedys.” But A Good Man: Rediscovering My Father, Sargent Shriver is so much more than that. Mark Shriver was moved after his father’s passing by a recurrent theme he heard in letters and conversations about his father: that he was a “good man.” In today’s world, we aspire to greatness, but are we missing the boat by not striving for continued goodness, where we are not going for the next goal, but working to help our fellow man.
This is an extremely well-written story of a man who is rediscovering his father. How many of us have had family members we don’t appreciate until their gone? Shriver struggled with this as many of us do and he weaves his own story in with the story of his father. I knew Sargent Shriver had started the Peace Corp and was aware of his failed election bid, but didn’t realize all of his other great work, including his role in Johnson’s War on Poverty, which spawned many things we take for granted today, such as Head Start and Legal Aid, his long work with the Special Olympics and many other great endeavors.
Mark also deals with being the sandwich generation, as he cared for his once vibrant father suffering from Alzheimer’s. He talks about walking through that journey. He speaks of Sargent Shriver as a father, who unconditionally loved his children no matter their success or failure. One of the anecdotes that stood out for me was Mark was attending a game of one of his children, while his father was suffering from Alzheimer’s. Mark was acting as a side-line coach and Sarge looked at him and said, “Did I yell at you like that?” When mark didn’t answer, Sarge asked again in an even tone, “Did I?” Once Mark let him know he didn’t, Sarge answered, “Good” then proceeded to continue to watch the game. Mark reflected on how his father had never been negative and how when we won there had been joy, but that sports weren’t the most important thing in life.
Mark let us know that Shriver’s faith, hope, and love are his enduring legacy, not just of his family, but of millions of people around the world. Sargent Shriver wrote a statement when he was 87, and the last part seemed to embody his life. “…I believe in faith, hope and love. I believe they have power.” Shriver was undoubtedly part of the greatest generation, who saw many financial hardships and war up close and personal.
This book is a great reminder of the good men and women who’ve went before us and the legacy they’ve left. Their stories are powerful. I would order this for your shelf today.
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