The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


Memories of McGovern and his work continue

As dignitaries and South Dakotans gather in Sioux Falls to remember former Sen. George McGovern, D-S.D., at a prayer service this evening and a funeral on Friday, the outpouring of tributes to him continues.

Roger Johnson<br />Roger Johnson

Roger Johnson
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said in a news release this week, “From his South Dakota farm roots, to the U.S. Senate, and later as ambassador of the United Nation’s agencies on food and agriculture, Sen. McGovern spent his life as a tireless champion of agriculture, nutrition and rural America.”

Noting that McGovern served as the honorary co-chair of the NFU Foundation and was recognized with NFU’s Meritorious Service Award for his humanitarian efforts in 2003, Johnson said, “Although he is gone, the senator’s inspiration and enthusiasm for improving the lives of working people, rural citizens and those in need will carry on for generations to come.”

Catherine Bertini

Catherine Bertini
Catherine Bertini, who was executive director of the World Food Program when President Bill Clinton chose McGovern as ambassador to the food agencies, said the appointment was “the most appropriate choice ever” for that post.

Recalling that McGovern had been instrumental in setting up WFP when he was head of Food for Peace in the Kennedy administration, Bertini noted:

“On the day he first arrived at WFP, its distinguished senior staff lined up with great excitement to meet him. After all, they were born between 1940 and 1960, but in Malaysia, Germany, Canada, Myanmar, Cameroon and elsewhere, and they were just as aware of the McGovern campaign and his anti-hunger legacy as their American contemporaries.”

“It was there we saw his vision,” Bertini continued. “ ‘We should have a world where every child has a meal at school,’ he told me early on. And he set out to achieve that.”

Bertini also noted that when McGovern stepped down as ambassador, he accepted her request that he become the first U.N. ambassador against world hunger and continued to travel around the world and the United States “to make a difference” for the rest of his life.

David Lambert

David Lambert

David Lambert, who served as counselor to McGovern while he was ambassador in Rome, reissued a tribute he gave when McGovern left Rome and a poem he wrote for McGovern’s 90th birthday this summer.

“George McGovern’s life is filled with so much giving, so much sacrifice, so much courage in adversity, and so much generosity of spirit, that it simply does not lend itself to a listing of accomplishments,” Lambert said.

“Because, you see, whether he is fighting evil regimes, shaping young minds, feeding hungry children, or advancing global peace, there is a thread that ties together George McGovern’s entire life — an undeterred devotion to enriching our common humanity. In these very difficult times — when agents of terror are attacking all that we hold dear — it is reassuring for us to remember that we have George McGovern, and that moreover — because of his influence and example — there will be more George McGoverns coming along.”

Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to to attend a prayer service in honor of McGovern this evening. According to a White House pool report, Biden will be accompanied by his son Hunter, who chairs the board of the World Food Program USA, a private group that raises money to fight hunger and annually. presents leadership awards named after McGovern.

Friday's funeral service at the Washington Pavilion of Arts & Science in Sioux Falls will be broadcast live on C-SPAN at 2 p.m. EDT, 1 p.m. CDT.