Pollywood: Honoring Sarge

by Editorial

Mark Shriver reflects on his father’s legacy in a new book.

By Sarah Valerio, Photos by Kyle Samperton

Kathleen Sibelius with Jeanne and Mark Shriver.

Sargent Shriver was a larger-than-life figure in the pantheon of great figures in the 20th century.

A member of the Kennedy clan through his marriage to Eunice Kennedy, he started the Peace Corps, served as United States Ambassador to France, and ran for President.

After his death from Alzheimer’s last year, “Sarge,” as he was affectionately known, was hailed as a great man. Bill Clinton and other world leaders spoke at his funeral. “He was truly one-of-a-kind,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, who met Sarge in 1962 and spoke at his wake.

To his friends, family and those who knew him, Sargent Shriver was regarded simply and poignantly as something more personal and profound: “A good man.”

“I didn’t quite know what that meant,” said his son Mark Shriver. “I thought it was just something that people said to a son who had lost his father.” That statement and the questions it raised, inspired Mark to write his book, “A Good Man,” which recently had its coming out party at The Jefferson Hotel, hosted by Tammy Haddad and Allbritton Communications President & CEO Fred Ryan.

Kathleen and Hunter Biden with Jane Harmon

Among those attending were a passel of Washington’s political and media elites, including Hoyer, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, MPAA President Chris Dodd, Sen. Bob Casey, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Washington Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli, Fox News Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry, CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin, Politico Senior Editor David Mark, Hunter Biden, ABC 7 anchor Allison Starling, NBC National Correspondent Peter Alexander, CNN’s Congressional Correspondent Kelly O’Donnell, and The Washington Post’s Amy Argetsinger.

Speaking at the party, Shriver was reflective, having somehow found meaning from his father’s colorful and accomplished life.

“What made him ‘good’ was that he was married to the woman of his dreams for 56 years. He raised five kids, all of whom love him. He had a daily intense relationship with God (he went to Mass every day), and he had countless friends,” he said. “And I don’t mean senators and congressmen and governors and cabinet secretaries; he had those friends. But he also had the guy at the U.S. Air counter at National Airport and the two women who served him lunch at a restaurant for 35 years who literally waited in line and said to me, ‘Your dad was a good man,’ then turned around and walked out of the wake.”

Ed Henry and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer

Mark added that he hopes his book offers readers some of the benefits he’s gained from getting to know his father a little better.

“I hope this little book helps people deal with being a father or a mother better,” he said. “I hope it can help people live more fulfilling lives. I hope it helps my father make a few new friends and I hope you get a new friend by reading the book.”

See the Summer 2012 issue of Washington Life Magazine for full coverage.

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