MITCHELL, S.D. (KELO) — If you grew up in South Dakota, you know the name George McGovern, who is touted as one of the great political figures of the 20th century by two speakers at the event.

McGovern Day at DWU celebrates his 100th birthday, 50th anniversary of when he ran for president and his work to alleviate world hunger.

“He’s a humanitarian. He ran President Kennedy’s program “Food for Peace.” And for a couple of years, traveled the world delivering huge volumes of our surplus agricultural commodities to feed malnourished children for instance in an international school lunch program,” said Thomas Knock, a history professor at Southern Methodist University.

Thomas Knock, a history professor at Southern Methodist University, has written biographies about McGovern.

“He’s also a very very important political figure when it comes to American agriculture. He very well represented family farms here in South Dakota. He was very strongly supported by most farmers in the state,” Knock said.

“His work fed a lot of hungry people throughout the world. I am just delighted that we’re coming together. People who knew him, people who had admired him, to celebrate his life today,” speaker Mark Lempke said.

Joel Allen, DWU professor and director of the McGovern Center, was an organizer of the event.

“I think especially in our day in age where there’s a real sense of loss of civility, a loss of kind of the ability to talk across party lines, an increasing rancor. I mean, George McGovern can be a little rancorous himself, too, sometimes, but he was always civil, always understanding and loved to have a really vigorous conversation,” Allen said.

“He should be remembered as really a great American, war hero, statesman, humanitarian. They don’t come any better than George McGovern,” Knock said.

McGovern graduated from DWU in 1946 and returned as a professor in 1950. He later served in the house and senate and died in 2012 at the age of 90.