I always feel saddened when a good person dies–man or woman, well-known or not. So I was saddened when I heard 90-year-old George McGovern was in hospice, non-responsive. Yet I reasoned that when one reaches 90, they have lived a full life.
My friend Margaret Ann Walsh knew him and his wife quite well, and she was indeed saddened, and felt she needed to share a couple of things she remembered, which I was happy to hear, and provide a story.
I think, no matter what one’s political persuasion, most people would acknowledge that Senator McGovern did many good, noble things during his years on earth…Peace Corps, Food for Peace, etc. I never got the feeling he was doing any of this for self-gratification, but rather because he believed it was the right thing to do.
I joked with Margaret Ann before he died that I was living in Minnesota when he ran for president, and Minnesota went for McGovern. I commented that I always thought Minnesotans were really quite intelligent…nuf said.
And aside from all the warm, glowing tributes, I was impressed with what Margaret Ann said, and what journalist Terry Wooster wrote about his experiences with him. For these people were not political…they simply felt they needed to tell about the good man they had known.
We also lost another notable this past week. Russell Means, 72, died October 22 at his ranch near Porcupine of cancer. Means also incited people to one side or the other, especially during his AIM involvement. But I always thought he was doing what he believed was the right thing to do. I was living in Minnesota during that period, too, and I heard a lot of comment…primarily horrified about the way the Native Americans were being treated.
A few years later, when we were living in Rapid, we were eating at Bonanza one evening and this tall, handsome person walked in. I couldn’t help but gasp, because he was, truly, “larger than life.” And he went on and made movies and appeared on TV shows, and moved beyond the AIM stuff.
And what I’ve always been impressed with, with both Senator McGovern and Mr. Means, is that they weren’t in the thick of things for the money or the glory, and they certainly made enemies. But they stood by their beliefs.
I am not comparing one to the other, but each man was controversial, and in his own way, each left a legacy that won’t be soon forgotten.
I hear a lot of postulating from politicians, and they always seem to say what they believe a particular audience wants to hear. And (gasp again) I don’t believe God is on one side or the other, and I really doubt He likes being used to make a point.
The people I have always respected are the men and women who forge ahead because they believe it is the right thing to do. Life would have been much simpler for them had they sat back and watched TV and complained about what “others” were doing.
It’s too bad that it takes death to bring on the accolades.
I prefer to hear the sincere thoughts of people who really knew them, and have nothing to gain from it.