SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — George McGovern made history with his loss of the 1972 presidential election in a historic landslide, but he was praised Friday for galvanizing the Democratic party’s liberal wing and inspiring a new generation to take up his causes.
At his funeral, friends and colleagues remembered McGovern as an early critic of the Vietnam War, a tireless fighter in the battle to feed the poor around the world and a man who will continue to draw young people into public life.
“George McGovern’s voice is not gone. It is simply waiting new voices, new consciences that have the courage of their conviction,” said former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart, who was McGovern’s campaign manager in 1972.
Hart was one of three former Democratic presidential candidates who paid personal respects Friday to McGovern, who died Sunday at age 90 after a brief stay in hospice care. Hart, Walter Mondale and John Kerry led a crowd of hundreds of mourners. Hart was the only one of the three to speak at the funeral.
“George McGovern was a voice of conscience for our nation in our time,” Hart said. Those who were uncomfortable with McGovern called him a liberal as an insult to try to imply he was weak, Hart added, but “he was larger than any political label.”
The service aired live on television in the South Dakota’s largest city. As the final farewell, the funeral was filled with tender reflections and humorous tales from McGovern’s past. A bagpipe processional closed the service. A private burial for McGovern in Washington will be scheduled later.