George Stanley McGovern was an American historian and South Dakota politician who was a U.S. representative and three-term U.S. senator, and the Democratic Party presidential nominee in the 1972 presidential election.
McGovern grew up in Mitchell, South Dakota, where he became a renowned debater. He volunteered for the U.S. Army Air Forces upon the country's entry into World War II. As a B-24 Liberator pilot, he flew 35 missions over German-occupied Europe from a base in Italy. Among the medals he received was a Distinguished Flying Cross for making a hazardous emergency landing of his damaged plane and saving his crew. After the war he earned degrees from Dakota Wesleyan University and Northwestern University, culminating in a PhD, and served as a history professor. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1956 and re-elected in 1958. After a failed bid for the U.S. Senate in 1960, he was a successful candidate in 1962.
As a senator, McGovern was an example of modern American liberalism. He became most known for his outspoken opposition to the growing U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.