The Story of the Ankle and Sargent Shriver

The Ankle.

Several centuries ago, when my Dad was around my age, he worked on the democratic campaign to elect the McGovern/Shriver ticket to the White House. On election day, his girlfriend at the time told him she had voted for Nixon. High treason.

My dad, screaming, leapt up onto a table to better illustrate his anger. He then proceeded to fall off the table, breaking his ankle.

Perhaps out of the fear for more bodily harm, or the scarier thought of losing his girl, My dad became a Republican. He proceeded to marry his girlfriend (the lovely Anne Waidmann) and got a job in Washington as a speechwriter/staffer for a Republican Congressman. The rest, as they say, is history.

Along the way he and my mother were blessed to raise three wonderful children and one unbelievably exceptional one. And in a cruel twist of fate, his one exceptional son has since worked for a Democratic Congressman, grown out his hair, and joined the Peace Corps.

Sargent Shriver

However, it was with bad news that this story was brought to my attention.

My good friend Connor Cain sent me a link the other day. The link was to an article describing the life, and recent passing of Sargent Shriver. I will paraphrase some of the things I’ve learned about a man my Dad once campaigned for.

Sargent Shriver was many things, and should be remembered today for all that he was and all that he did.

Shriver ran for president and vice-president. He championed the fight against poverty and promoted peace throughout the world. He and his wife, Eunice Kennedy, helped create the Special Olympics He helped advise JFK to pursue civil rights as part of his presidential campaign and platform. He was tasked with creating and running one of newly elected John F. Kennedy’s newly proposed programs. The Peace Corps.

So from 1961 to 1966, Shriver send 14,500 volunteers to 55 countries, traveling 350,000 miles to make sure that one of the boldest and most risky political programs got off to the right start. Asked by a reporter about the discomforts associated with his job, Shriver replied, “I have the best damned job in Government.”

50 years later, as we celebrate the day John F. Kennedy was inaugurated, the Peace Corps remains one of the most successful government programs. The Peace Corps has sent 200,000 volunteers to 139 countries.

President Clinton upon giving Sargent Shriver the Presidential Medal of Freedom Remarked, “In my lifetime, America has never had a stronger warrior for peace and against poverty than Sargent Shriver.”

So as I sit here under my mosquito net, planning an English lesson for 50 Kindergarteners tomorrow morning, and brainstorming ways to export honey and coffee to the United States, I know of one more person I can thank for this opportunity.

Because I have the best damned job in Government.



The information I used/article can be found here:



2 comments on “The Story of the Ankle and Sargent Shriver

  1. DIRK says:

    Good for you, Michael…

    I love your passion and your beautiful prose!
    I keep hoping you will send more pictures of you and your friends. Like you, being the exceptional one born to my parents of three children, I can identify with you. You are an old soul who is being replenished with energy and spirit by the wonderful people of Ethiopia. I do believe that you are blessed and that you are, in turn, a blessing to those you now serve. Best wishes to your kindergarten class…blessed are the children, for such is the kingdom of heaven.


  2. Mlou says:

    thank you for your wonderful stories and wisdom. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. Your photos and entries are wonderful. I’m JS mom and at least I can get a little more current info on bonga and perhaps dekka? can’t seem to get a hold of JS. Keep up the great work!!! I’m sure your folks are very proud of you! mlou

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