40 years ago, George McGovern (1922 - ), decorated World War II combat pilot veteran, theological seminary graduate, and eventual three-term Senator from his native state of South Dakota, accepted his party's nomination for presidency at the Democratic National Convention in Florida with the following words:
Together we will call America home to the ideals that nourished us from the beginning.
From secrecy and deception in high places; come home, America.
From military spending so wasteful that it weakens our nation; come home, America.
From the entrenchment of special privileges in tax favoritism; from the waste of idle lands to the joy of useful labor; from the prejudice based on race and sex; from the loneliness of the aging poor and the despair of the neglected sick -- come home, America.
Come home to the affirmation that we have a dream. Come home to the conviction that we can move our country forward.
In 1972, as an outspoken opponent of the war in Vietnam who supported a calling for a complete troop withdrawal, McGovern's 'Come Home America' plea resonated on several levels then, as it does now.
I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.
McGovern of course was proven right about Vietnam, and indeed many of his philosophies seem borne out of common sense and pragmatism, yet "McGovernism" to some still brings to mind an ultra-liberal leftist ideology out of step with mainstream America. It was a political tactic (used against him by Democrats and Republicans alike) that worked well: he lost the election to Richard Nixon by a landslide.
Every Senator in this chamber is partly responsible for sending 50,000 young Americans to an early grave ...
It does not take any courage at all for a Congressman or a Senator or a President to wrap himself in the flag and say we are staying in Vietnam, because it is not our blood that is being shed.
Following the loss, McGovern returned to the Senate. He was appointed UN Global Ambassador on World Hunger in 2001, a position he currently occupies. In 2006 he co-authored the book Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal with foreign policy analyst William Polk.
The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of one's country deep enough to call her to a higher plain.