Biden: "I don't know anyone who loved this country more than George McGovern"
"(McGovern) transformed the party. Unrelated to the war. He opened it to women, young people, minorities. He is the father of the modern Democratic party," Vice President Joe Biden said.
Vice President of the United States Joe Biden is in Sioux Falls Thursday. He was one of many speakers at a vigil for former South Dakota Senator George McGovern.
Whether they're people from just down the road or hundreds of miles away, people from all over the U.S. are paying their respects as they said their good-byes to the former presidential candidate.
A prayer service and vigil wrapped up just after 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the First United Methodist Church in Sioux Falls. It started at 6:30 p.m.
'America the Beautiful.' It's a song McGovern thought should be our national anthem so that's what was played.
Almost a dozen people spoke in his honor. Vice President Joe Biden made the trip from Washington D.C. He even said, "how could you not be here?"
"I kept in contact with your father and to my great fortunate he kept in contact with me," Biden said.
Biden and McGovern served in the Senate together. Biden said McGovern was someone he admired.
"His phrase in his speech, 'we do love this country.' I don't know anyone who loved this country more than George McGovern," Biden said.
Steve Hildebrand, a close family friend took to the podium. He was there Sunday when McGovern passed.
"I will never forget your invitation to the hospice facility, to be there next to our hero. He's all of our heroes," Hildebrand said.
A hero because he helped the middle class and so many others.
"It was George McGovern and his advocacy in which programs like Pell Grants, student loans, that allowed my family to go to school," Hildebrand said.
And among many things, what Hildebrand learned from him.
"What George McGovern taught me more than anything else is speak your mind," Hildebrand said.
And while there were a few laughs, it ended with Biden telling the McGovern family in an emotional statement how McGovern should be remembered.
"Your father had the courage to help people who didn't have the courage to speak up, to finally stand up. Your father took all of that beating. Your father who was characterized. Your father was a genuine hero," Biden said.
McGovern's mission was to fighter world hunger.
Before the prayer service you could have walked into the church to pay your respects. For 5 hours Thursday there was a public viewing. It was an open casket.
McGovern was guarded by a Sioux Falls police officer and a South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper.