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George McGovern: A Man Dedicated to his Country

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The United States of America has lost a great man; a man whose perseverance is shown by his heroic deeds in serving in the Second World War and whose influence aided in drawing a close to the Vietnamese War. George McGovern served as a lieutenant in the US Air Force from 1943 to 1945 during World War II. He also served as a Congressman (both the House and the Senate) in the Democratic Party between the years if 1957-1981. Appointed by Bill Clinton in 1998, he was the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture until 2001. From this information presented, one would most likely conclude that George McGovern's life was dedicated to serving and bettering his country.

His story began in a town with a population of only 590 people according to the 2010 census called Avon, South Dakota. On July 19, 1922, page one of his story was written. McGovern attended elementary school in South Dakota. Eventually, he graduated from Mitchell High School in 1940. From high school, he went off to college at Dakota Wesleyan University. While attending this college, McGovern took flying lessons and ended up receiving his pilot’s license. Little did he know that his flying lessons would aid him immensely for what was going to happen that year.

On December 7, 1941, a Japanese fleet bombed Pearl Harbor. This tragic event encouraged thousands of Americans to enlist in the United States Military. Among these men was the skilled pilot, George McGovern. He took a leave from school and drove from his small town to Omaha, Nebraska to volunteer to join in the Air Force. He obviously began as a private, but quickly moved up to the rank of a First Lieutenant. McGovern eventually became a hero by the end of the war. He flew a B-4 in 35 combat missions over Europe, thus being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. By 1945, the war had ended, and his military duty had ended along with it.

When McGovern returned back home, he went back to Dakota Wesleyan to his wife (between his military service in 1943, he got married to Eleanor Stegeberg.) McGovern eventually finished his schooling in 1946. He was confused on a career choice, and he thought he wanted to become a minister. That being said, he and his wife left South Dakota for Illinois; where George could attend Garrett Theological Seminary. When discovering that being a minister was not the career path for him, he left the seminary. He decided to stay in Illinois, however, to attend Northwestern University. It was here where he received his Master’s and his Ph.D. in American History. In 1953 following his education, he began to teach history and political science at Dakota Wesleyan.

After three years of teaching, he decided to enter into politics. He ran for the House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1956 for South Dakota’s District 1. After experiencing success and popularity from his state, he won a second term in 1958 for the same title. Two years after winning his second term, he made the decision to run for Senator. While McGovern was triumphant, his attempt was unsuccessful. Despite this loss, McGovern showed resilience by running again in 1962 and he was victorious. He served as a US Senator from 1963-1981.

In between his long-time reign as a South Dakota Senator, he had two short runs for president. His first run was in 1968 and it proved unsuccessful. Success was gained, however, in 1972 when Democrat George McGovern ran against Republican Richard Nixon. George McGovern’s philosophy and his stance against the Vietnam War won him incredible fame. His focus was to bring American troops back home and to cut spending at the Pentagon immensely. Despite his peaceful efforts, McGovern fell greatly in the election to Nixon. It was that same year of 1972, that Nixon became involved in the Watergate Scandal.

After the election, McGovern returned to his duty as Senator. His career in the Legislative Branch was brought to an end in 1981. After that, he once again made a run for president in 1984. Unfortunately, he failed to make a good reputation early in the primaries, and he lost to be the Democratic nominee.

In July of 1991, he became president of the Middle East Policy Council. This was a non-profit organization in Washington, DC that studied and commented on the United States’ interest in Middle Eastern affairs. He served as president of this organization for 7 years, until he became United States Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture. He stayed involved with the UN even in 2001, when he was appointed the UN’s first Global Ambassador on Hunger.

McGovern spent his last days with his family in South Dakota. Eleanor McGovern (his wife), however, passed away in 2007. Despite this horrific tragedy, McGovern still had many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The time came though and at age 90, George McGovern’s life was brought to an end. The date was October 24, 2012 and the location was Sioux Falls, SD. He lived a full and accomplished life. Famed for his opposition to the Vietnam War, and for his courage in WWII, McGovern made a name for himself. He served his country since he was twenty years old and was a great man. He left an impeccable legacy and our nation mourns over his death. May he rest in peace.



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