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McGovern's Mitchell Legacy

October 22, 2012, 7:24 PM by Kelly Bartnick

McGovern's Mitchell Legacy
MITCHELL, SD -

The George and Eleanor McGovern statue stands tall outside the McGovern Library at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell as a reminder of South Dakota's pioneering liberal politician. Flowers at his feet Monday afternoon were a reminder that only memories live on.

McGovern died early Sunday morning surrounded by family at a Sioux Falls hospice. He only recently moved to Sioux Falls and Dakota Wesleyan University President Robert Duffett says prior to his move McGovern was often on campus.

“He came all the time to work, to write letters, to write books, to see students,” Duffett said.

Inside the library is a center chronicling McGovern's vast political life. From his hard stance on the War in Vietnam to his landslide loss to Richard Nixon in the 1972 election, nothing is left out of the center celebrating the South Dakotan’s global impact.

“He had the joy and the drive, if you will, and the desire of someone running for political office,” Duffett said.

The students at Dakota Wesleyan today weren't born when McGovern ran for office the first time. But they say his work has become theirs too.

“We have an organization called University Fighting For World Hunger. I believe that's inspired by him because that was his big focus,” freshman Lynzee Wobic said.

His commitment to feeding the world is widely considered McGovern's greatest achievement. It is on display with the rest of them in Mitchell where history teaches students every day that even those born of humble beginnings can do big things.

“You can make something of yourself, of your life,” Duffett said. “You can be part of the common good.”

McGovern is one of six United States Senators to graduate from Dakota Wesleyan University. He was also on the university’s faculty.

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