George McGovern, winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000, will speak and sign copies of his new book, The Essential America: Our Founders and the Liberal Tradition, Thursday at 7 p.m. at Thackeray's Books at Westgate, 3301 West Central Ave.
A lifelong public servant and liberal in the populist tradition, McGovern, 82, was the 1972 Democratic candidate for president and an early, vocal opponent of the war against Vietnam.
He was a United States senator from South Dakota from 1963 to 1981 and a U.S. representative from 1957 to 1961, when President John Kennedy appointed him the first director of the U.S. Food for Peace Program.
He was named to United Nations positions by Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton, and has worked for decades on behalf of American farmers and to alleviate world hunger. During World War II, he was a bomber pilot for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross.
The book, his ninth, includes the thoughts of several former presidents, including Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, and FDR.
"America has always needed the vitality and redeeming strength of the liberal spirit sharpened by the anvil of conservatism," he wrote.
At noon Thursday, he speaks at the University of Toledo's Law College auditorium. Both talks are free and open to the public.