Monday, October 22, 2012

George McGovern, 1922-2012

I cast my second presidential ballot for him; my first was for his fellow upper Midwesterner Hubert Humphrey. So, I began my voting career with two swings and misses, before I connected for a hit with Jimmy Carter in 1976. When the Watergate scandal broke in '73, I would occasionally see cars with bumper stickers that said "Don't blame me, I'm from Massachusetts" (the only state McGovern carried). I couldn't claim that; I voted for him by absentee ballot from Florida while stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana. The South was solid for the Trickster.

Later, I could claim an indirect connection (besides the voting one) to him: I had some brief but pleasant conversation with his sister, who was married to the minister of my parents' church.

He served in World War Two as an Army Air Corps bomber pilot, flying the B-24 Liberator, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for a safe emergency landing which he and his crew survived, despite the B-24's vulnerability in such situations because of its high-mounted wing.

He was brought up in the traditions of prairie populism and, through his Methodist minister father, the Social Gospel, both of which, along with McGovern, are eulogized in today's New York Times by Josh Garrett-Davis. Goodbye to a very good man.

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