His voice was Midwest reedy. Not monotone but lacking depth and power of great orators. His appearance lacked pretention, like the solitary guest at a cocktail party, silently leaning against the wall.
George McGovern didn’t so much run for President of these United States as he walked for it. His was the era of kissing babies and strong hand shakes. His campaign one of touting the message of we-are-in-this together.
Shaped by the boundless geography of South Dakota his liberal agenda was anchored by Midwest common sense. He, even in defeat, expedited the movement to remove our young men and women from harms way in Viet Nam.
A native of the state he so remarkably represented he was elected to both the house and the senate, the latter making him the first senator from the Mount Rushmore State since the Roosevelt presidency. Four years later he is defeated by incumbent Richard Nixon by one of the largest margins in history gathering only 37 percent of the public vote losing every state but Massachusetts.
For many, defeat would define the man. George McGovern, dead at the age of 90, was not just any man.
Like Herbert Hoover before him, McGovern’s greatest accomplishments came after leaving public office. Appointed by then President Bill Clinton as ambassador to the United Nations food programs, McGovern teamed up with former Kansas Senator Bob Dole to feed the world.
Political adversaries, the two shared Midwestern roots and ideals. They pushed to expand the US lunch program around the world, expanding its reach to more than 30 million children. The program had two ideals. The first was diplomacy was better served by sending food marked by the initials USA. The second was that by providing a market for agricultural surplus, the breadbasket of America would remain strong.
In these polarizing political times, this bipartisan effort by political rivals will stand as a testament to compromise.
Thursday, with the blue skies of South Dakota’s vast empty landscape as his blanket, George McGovern will be put to rest. America was a better place because of his actions.
* Beauty resides in Bartlett and if there’s any doubt just look at the list of royalty that has been crowned recently.
From Bartlett High School stands Brienna Wilkerson a special needs student who has proven herself special indeed. The daughter of Mandy Wilkerson, the senior is renowned for her always smiling demeanor as she greets friends and strangers alike at the school.
Then let’s point to Bolton High School graduate Courtney Roxanne Pearson, a senior at Old Miss. This year 21-year-old dynamo made history as the first African American homecoming queen in the Magnolia State’s history.
The daughter of Commander Kerri Pearson, her coronation aptly came on the school’s 50th anniversary of integration.
Finally, residing within spitting distance of Bartlett’s proposed annexation is Mrs. Tennessee International Traci Pangonas. The wife of an Active duty Navy officer, Ms. Pangonas represents suburban Memphis on a national scale.
Congratulations also go to Bartlett High School’s Volleyball program. Coach Sherrie Walker has her program heading back to Murfreesboro. And there’s hope for long term success. Two freshmen and three sophomores join three juniors and one senior as the backbone of this squad. The present is good and the future looks bright for Panther ballers.