WESTMINSTER — R. Sargent Shriver mingled his childhood memories with his perspective on the country's future as he spoke to members of the Carroll County Children's Fund on Monday.
"What Westminster taught me is just as relevant tonight as it was when I left here, still very much a child," said Shriver, who was born 76 years ago in a home on East Green Street. "I learned my values here."
His Carroll roots were planted deep and influenced a spectacular career in business, civic and humanitarian affairs, and politics, said Charles O. Fisher Sr., who introduced his old friend and "the city's illustrious native" to about 175 people at Martin's Westminster.
Fisher called Shriver "the architect of the Peace Corps, one of the greatest ideals of this century." A Democratic vice presidential candidate in 1972, Shriver is now chairman of the board of the Special Olympics, which sponsors sports programs for the developmentally disabled in 110 countries.
Shriver said he was honored to return home tospeak at the organization's dinner. Proceeds of the $25-per-person event will benefit the fund's medical assistance programs. Eileen Johnson, secretary of the fund, said the dinner should raise about $1,500for those programs.
Established in 1983 as the first group of itskind in the nation, the fund helps county families meet medical expenses for children younger than 19.
"The fund should expand and be copied everywhere," said Shriver. "This nation would be stronger if everyone conducted themselves as you do."
Relying primarily on donations from Carroll businesses, clubs and churches, the fund paid $13,693 for the care of 17 county children last year. Shriver said the volunteers are leaders who carry a morally good message to the community.
"There is nothing more important for our future as a nation than molding the character and spirit of the next generation through ourlove and support," said Shriver, citing the organization's "valiant efforts on behalf of children here."
He encouraged the volunteers to continue their work, and urged them to pressure elected representatives to change their priorities.
"Our children are more importantthan outer space, stealth bombers or aid to the Soviet Union," he said. "Changing our national priorities will strengthen the nation morally."
As a thank you, the group gave Shriver a picture, taken in 1904, of a Union Mills house where he spent many boyhood summers.
"1904. I wasn't even born then," he laughed. "But, I remember many stories the neighbors used to tell about the Civil War."
Paul H. Smith, a former radio announcer, gave the former ambassador tapes of speeches Shriver made here in 1964 and 1984.
Edward D. Leister, outgoing president of the fund, offered his thanks to the National Honor Society at Westminster High School for $1,588 donated through its 1990 Thanksgiving Project.
He also thanked George Trump, whose Opera House Printing donates stationery, and Glenna Lambert, whose "Dancing Made Easy School of Dance" has donated $5,180 in proceeds from recitals since 1988.