In his 1961 inaugural address, President Kennedy implored Americans: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” That same year, he founded the Peace Corps which, over the last four-plus decades, has supplied 190,000 volunteers to 139 host countries. Peace Corps volunteers work on projects that range from health and economic development initiatives to AIDS education and environmental preservation.
While the Kennedys have always encouraged service abroad, they’ve also demonstrated public service and charity at home: Within the late President’s own family, one brother served as U.S. Attorney General; another has been a United States Senator since 1962. One of the President sisters started the Special Olympics, which one son now runs, while a daughter serves as First Lady of California. Still another Kennedy served as ambassador to Ireland and founded Very Special Arts, a nonprofit that nurtures the artistic talents of children who are mentally and/or physically disabled.
In the following pages, we meet two members of the current generation of Kennedys who are continuing the family legacy of service:
Anthony Kennedy Shriver is the founder of Best Buddies, an international non-profit organization which enhances the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for friendships and employment. His cousin, William Kennedy Smith, MD, helms iCons, an organization that links a worldwide group of physicians and patients through the internet.
Clearly, the clarion call to public service that President Kennedy issued over 40 years ago still resounds.