Senator George McGovern was my hero, mentor and friend. He was a principled and prophetic political leader who courageously spoke truth to power while fighting to end the carnage and stupidity of the Vietnam War. McGovern was denigrated and vilified by many on the right who never served in the military. But McGovern was a highly decorated war hero who served as a B-24 bomber pilot during World War II. He was a civil, soft-spoken combat veteran who knew the horrors of war. His opponents knew only character assassination. Senator McGovern spoke on the Senate floor in 1970:By the way, Susan and I were in the Senate Gallery that day as the McGovern-Hatfield amendment to end war came for its floor vote.
"Every senator here is partly responsible for that human wreckage at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval (hospitals) and all across our land. ... There are not very many of these blasted and broken boys who think this war is a glorious adventure. Do not talk to them about bugging out, or national honor, or courage. 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."
There was stunned silence in the Senate. The right never forgave McGovern for telling the truth.
George said "this chamber reeks of blood."
The moment was unforgettable.