George McGovern, the war hero who campaigned for peace, enters hospice care

George McGovern, '72.
The news that George McGovern, now ninety, is in hospice care stirred memories -- not just of his campaign for president, but of a night in Ovando, Montana. I was at Trixi's Antler Saloon when I started seeing familiar faces passing by: a man who looked like Dick Lamm, a woman who looked like Dottie Lamm. I had to see who was in the next room.

Yes, there was the former governor of Colorado and his wife, sitting at a table near the bar. And with them? George McGovern, the ex-senator from South Dakota. There was another face I didn't know, but it belonged to another famous name: author/historian Stephen Ambrose.

It was a remarkable gathering to encounter in this ramshackle bar in a tiny town that bills itself as the spot where Lewis was "Without Clark"

Turns out that Ambrose and Lamm had been friends in college, and their friendship had continued through the decades. The Lamms and McGovern were visiting Ambrose at his ranch outside of Ovando. A few years earlier, Ambrose had published Undaunted Courage, the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and he had a new project in the works: Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s over Germany 1944-45.That book would follow the crew of the Dakota Queen, a B-24 Liberator piloted by Lieutenant George McGovern -- a war hero who would later campaign for peace as the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate who took on Richard Nixon.

McGovern's long, remarkable life has been a continuous display of true, undaunted courage. And now he's preparing again to head off into the wild blue. Godspeed.

Dick Lamm has had a long, remarkable career -- one in which he's never been shy about speaking out. Learn more about his take on a current issue in our recent post "Aurora theater shooting: Dick Lamm not optimistic about reforms to gun policy."

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RobertChase topcommenter

George McGovern was nominated when I was in the eighth grade.  I was his only supporter in my class.  If only Americans had not been so stupid as to elect criminal Nixon!  That a man whose career began helping Joseph McCarthy persecute Americans for their political beliefs could win by such a margin over so intelligent, able, compassionate, and ethical man as George McGovern was my earliest indication of just how dark the heart of America was, and current evocations of his opponent having been more liberal than his Republican successors (including, of course, crypto-Republican Bill Clinton) emphatically limn our nation's decline into fascism.  I was able to cast a vote for George McGovern for President in 1986, when he ran again for the Democratic nomination.  He was and remains one of the last American politicians worthy of respect.

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