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Russell Simmons

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Eunice Shriver: The Goddess of Giving

Posted: 08/17/09 11:25 AM ET

There has been much love and appreciation given to the service to America from the Kennedy family. I would venture to say that they are known as the most liked, iconic, social and premier political family in the history of this country. They were a huge sense of pride and motivation for many immigrants, especially the Irish, who came to America looking for a better life. They pushed forward the idea that if they could do it so could you, so quit complaining and make yourself useful. The Shriver family is obviously a big part of that history, but their contributions are not as widely appreciated or known. For those that do not know, Eunice Kennedy, sister of John, Bobby and Ted, married Sargent Shriver, and became Eunice Shriver.

I am privileged to say that I know most of the living members of both families and knew some of those who passed. I was introduced to this family over 20 years ago through one of my best friends, Bobby Shriver, the son of Eunice and Sargent and brother of Maria Shriver, the great journalist and wife of Gov. Schwarzenegger. Eunice raised all beautiful children. Each one of her children has become well known for their philanthropic and social GIFTS to Americans in need.

A few days ago, I was one of the lucky few, along with: Vice President Joe Biden, Oprah Winfrey, Jon Bon Jovi, Stevie Wonder and many other politicos, celebrities and cultural heroes to witness the funeral of Mrs. Eunice Shriver, which was an amazing celebration and display of love. The funeral was relatively short with family members all making loving, heartfelt statements. I even witnessed Maria, who is much like her mother, talking about letting go. Which if you know Maria, who like her mother, letting go or giving up is a challenging action to take. Those two women are amongst the fiercest fighters I have ever met. Both of them make Arnold look like a soft-ass yogi. Anyhow, the point of this blog is to remind all who read this what America lost when Eunice Shriver passed.

She was in my eyes, the goddess of giving. Working side by side with the person I consider to be the most inspiring American, her husband Sarge Shriver, on the now famous "war on poverty," which he began many years ago, is something that we should all be very thankful for. Her most memorable contribution is the founding of the Special Olympics, which has given hope and dignity to millions of disabled people from around the world. I do not think that anyone would deny that Eunice kept all this in order with a firm, but loving and graceful hand. I don't cry much but I'm crying as I type this on my blackberry...

Goodbye, Mrs. Shriver. I love you. Hope to live up to the promise that was clear to me, that all who you touch, follow your lead.

Eunice Shriver, "the goddess of giving," may she rest in peace.

 

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