Martin Luther King Day got me to thinking about how one person can change the world; they really can. He did. So did plenty of other people, all in their own way, some great, some small. Some I don’t know the name of, I know what they did, like the guy who invented a screen to use in the rainforest that collects the water at the top and it drips down and provides clean water. Anyone who invented a vaccine. But, one of my favorite people that changed the world is Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
While her brothers, President Kennedy and the Senators Kennedy and even Joe, a pilot who died in WWII, often held the spotlight, she was the one, in my opinion, who had the most impact on the world stage. She, along with her family, championed the rights of the disabled. The beginnings of the Special Olympics began her backyard. She fought tirelessly to bring the rights of the disabled to the forefront; she saw past the “dis” right to the “ability”
I saw her once, getting into her car after mass. I was attending a funeral and she walked out. A marvelous woman, frail and tired, stepping into her car. I could see her face in the window. I’m certain she saw recognition in my face. And we two women, worlds apart, spent a moment staring at each other. I hope she read the “thank you” in my face, heard it from my heart. Not long after, I attended her funeral- well I stood on the street like thousands of others, who stood in hushed silence, quietly acknowledging every celebrity, some who would look at the crowd and nod their heads, and you could see the multitude return this “thank you for coming to honor our mother, grandmother, friend.” When really we were all there to say “thank you.”
So many “one person’s” have changed the world, it’s hard to imagine how that’s possible, but still it happens everyday. One person stands in front of a tank; an Italian soldier defies his executioners and throws off his hood; a mother donates her child’s organs, or starts a Rett Syndrome fundraising organization. Each act of kindness, courage, conviction touches lives, generation upon generation. What an amazing world it would be if we could each be such a light. And they don’t know it yet, but whoever is the final vote in the FDA that (hopefully) gives NNZ approval, they’ll be changing the world, too. How grand a thing.
For more information about this phenomenal woman see www.http://shriver.umassmed.edu/ and http://www.specialolympics.org/eunice_kennedy_shriver_biography.aspx
Lady Liberty (Eunice Kennedy Shriver)
There stands a woman on the shore,
steadfast, sure and tall,
and in her hand she holds a torch
that lights the way for all-
For all those less fortunate,
dealt a harsh hand by Fate,
and leads them down the path of Hope-
her footsteps mark the way.
She hands it to the blind man
so he may have his dreams in sight
and to the woman who cannot walk
so she may stand and fight.
She lifts the little children
who cannot get there on their own
and carries them with tenderness
so they may know a loving home.
Like many of her family,
whose own torches lit the night
for the multitude of millions
who could not find the light,
she sent a “message of Hope”,
a “message of Victory”,
and brought to the disabled
deserved Human Dignity.
In homes across America,
in countries ’round the world,
a mother may hope her child
is not forgotten, is not scorned.
So, fare thee well then on your journey
let the stars now light your way,
let a warm wind fill your sails,
and cause you no delay.
While here on Earth we raise our own
hands up to the sky
and with grateful hearts say thank you,
rest easy and goodbye.