Being from South Dakota, a state of only about 800,000 people, we have had our share of nationally prominent people. One of the greatest of those passed away this weekend, former Senator George McGovern.
Most people know McGovern as the candidate who was defeated easily by Nixon in the 1972 presidential election. However, he was much more than this.
I had the honor of meeting Senator McGovern three times in my life. The first time I met him was at a high school debate tournament in Mitchell, SD that is named in his honor - the Mitchell McGovern. At the tournament, McGovern spoke briefly to the students about the importance of debate and the impact that it had on his life.
Most recently, I got a chance to speak with him briefly at his 90th birthday party in Sioux Falls and he once again talked to me about how valuable his experience in debate was and how it impacted him. I always felt honored to be advocating something that such a great man valued and clearly took to heart.
Senator McGovern was much more than a politician; he was a statesman. He was a soft spoken man who stood up for what he believed was right: protecting the weak from the strong and advocating the end of hunger throughout the world.
McGovern proved with his work and his life that you don't need to be the greatest most powerful public speaker to make a difference. All you need is the willingness to speak and the courage to do so.
If you have a child, or nieces and nephews or grandchildren - try to encourage them to get involved in an activity that will challenge them and maybe push them towards something great. Maybe they too can make a difference and make the world a better place.
Here's to you Senator McGovern - thank you for your service and your contribution to the world.