Senator John Thune
When I walked into the Newseum in Washington, D.C. in July, I was not surprised to see the large gathering of South Dakotans who had come out for a 90th birthday party – although they may have been surprised to see me. The room was filled with a lifetime of friends, family, and admirers of former Senator George McGovern. McGovern carried on throughout the evening, telling stories and sharing wisdom with those of us who were fortunate enough to be a part of the event. That’s why the news that Senator McGovern was entering hospice care came as such a shock after seeing him so recently and knowing firsthand how well he looked at his birthday party just a few short months ago. Despite our political differences, George was a statesman and I was proud to call him my friend.
During World War II, McGovern led his countrymen with his brave service in the flak-filled skies of Europe. After the war, McGovern served as a guide to the young souls of South Dakota, teaching history at Dakota Wesleyan University. In the 1950s, a young McGovern entered the rancorous arena of electoral politics, serving his state in Congress for over two decades, and becoming the only South Dakotan to ever receive his party’s presidential nominee.
Throughout his post-political life, McGovern dedicated himself to the service of his fellow man in his crusade against hunger, both at home and abroad. McGovern also remained a committed historian, dedicated to penning books which reached deep into our republic’s history and speaking to audiences around the world.His legacy will live on through the leadership program created in his name at Dakota Wesleyan, through those who continue his crusade against hunger, and through the students of his writings. Kimberley and my thoughts are with his friends and family as they celebrate the life of a man who touched so many.