The Norman Transcript

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October 28, 2012

In remembrance

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 — who like McGovern all spent time in the Senate before unsuccessful runs for the White House — 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, particularly a demonized one.”

In a sign of McGovern’s stature in sparsely populated South Dakota, the service aired live on television in the state’s largest city.

As the final farewell to South Dakota’s native son, 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.

Larry Fuller, a retired newspaper publisher from Sioux Falls who became friends with McGovern, said it was a fitting tribute for the man who served the state in Washington for two decades. McGovern left office in 1981 after a losing a campaign for a fourth Senate term.

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