The “Veterans’ Veteran”
Days of mourning for the Arizona senator, including a lying-in-state in the Capitol Rotunda and the pomp of a service in Washington’s National Cathedral, are certain to become about more than simply honoring a singular political leader and national hero.
The ceremonies marking McCain’s passing seem sure to become more than a lament for a departed political giant. After two losing presidential campaigns, McCain never made it to the Oval Office — yet he is getting an emotional sendoff and assessment that might befit one of the men who did become President.
Weeks before the 2018 mid-term elections, and with the next presidential race already stirring, remembrances of McCain will showcase the kind of values and policies that the Republican icon shared with his establishment contemporaries, even across the aisle. Senator McCain was a “skilled, tough politician,” who was willing to work with colleagues from either party.
Tributes being paid to McCain in the United States by significant political figures and by foreign leaders highlighted his character, his courage, his willingness to find common ground, and above all his desire to serve a cause greater than himself.
Few of us have been tested the way Senator McCain once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did. But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own. At McCain’s best, he showed us what that means.
Senator McCain was a man of deep conviction, a “patriot of the highest order” and a “public servant in the finest traditions of our country.”
Leaders of foreign nations where McCain was a familiar sight during his frenetic decades of global travel noted his commitment to the Atlantic alliance, his support for human rights, and his unshakeable commitment to shared Western values.
Senator John McCain – soldier and senator, American, and world traveler. He will be remembered both in Europe and North America for his courage and character, and as a strong supporter of NATO.
But many of the tributes to McCain from the US establishment politicians with whom he felt comfortable can also be read as commentaries on the importance of character in public life and America’s mission and global role.
Few sacrificed more for, or contributed more to, the welfare of his fellow citizens — and indeed freedom-loving peoples around the world. Another American maverick and warrior, General George Patton, once observed: ‘We should thank God that men such as these have lived.’ To that, we can only add our gratitude to Senator McCain’s wife Cindy, his wonderful family, and the people of Arizona who permitted this great and good man to serve with such distinction in the world’s greatest deliberative body.”
Senator John McCain believed that every citizen has a responsibility to make something of the freedoms given by our US Constitution, and from his heroic service in the Navy to his 35 years in Congress, he lived by his creed every day. He frequently put partisanship aside to do what he thought was best for the country, and was never afraid to break the mold if it was the right thing to do.
McCain was a man of honor, a true patriot in the best sense of the word. Americans will be forever grateful for his heroic military service and for his steadfast integrity as a member of the United States Senate.
McCain is proof that some truths are timeless, character, courage, integrity, and honor.
Fighting for American Veterans
As a veteran himself, Senator McCain has long gone to battle with the bureaucracy at the Department of Veterans Affairs to reduce wait times and improve the care provided to our nation’s veterans.
Over his career, Senator McCain had successfully advanced numerous pieces of legislation to help veterans, including these recent examples:
VA Reform, Veterans Suicide Prevention, and Military Family Support
In 2014, Senator McCain led a bipartisan effort to address the scandal in delayed and denied care at the Phoenix VA Health Care System. He led a bipartisan effort with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to write and pass by a 93-3 Senate vote the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014, legislation that makes some of the significant reforms to the VA in decades.
Senator McCain was often contacted by veterans in need of assistance from across the country, not just Arizona. Most all other offices refer those out-of-state cases back to their home-state Senators, but Senator McCain’s office actually works cases for any veteran who contacts them. As a result, Senator McCain’s office still works far more veterans-related cases than any other office of the US Senate.
A life lived embodying those truths casts a long, long shadow. Senator John McCain will cast that long shadow. His impact on America hasn’t ended, not even close. America and Freedom have lost one of her greatest champions.
As you go through life, you meet few truly great people. Senator McCain was one of them. His dedication to his country and the military were unsurpassed, and maybe most of all, he was a truth teller — never afraid to speak truth to power in an era where that has become all too rare. The Senate, the United States, and the world are lesser places without John McCain.
McCain was a giant of our time, not just for the things he achieved but for who he was and what he fought for all his life. John put principle before politics. He put country before self. He was one of the most courageous men of the century. He will always be listed among freedom’s most gallant and faithful servants.
Compelled by his unshakeable faith and deep love of country, he dedicated his life to defending both America and the American idea — fighting tirelessly to ensure that our nation always remains a land of justice, freedom and hope.
Although McCain’s death was expected, the loss still hurts. America has lost one of the greatest patriots and public servants in our history. Senator McCain recently said “I want to live as long as I can but if my life ends soon as a result of this cancer, I will have been blessed to have lived a great life. So, I am going to go forward with a lot of gratitude and joy every day I can.”
“We have lost a man who steadfastly represented the best ideals of our country. As a Naval Officer and defiant prisoner of war, John McCain stood with his brothers-in-arms until they returned home together,” US Defense Secretary James Mattis wrote in a statement. “His was a life well lived, one whose actions epitomized the motto of his alma mater, the U.S. Naval Academy which advanced the slogan: ‘not for self, but for country.’ On behalf of all of the men and women of the Department of Defense, we will remain forever grateful for the life, the passion, and the example of Senator John McCain.”
Senator McCain was a shining example of what a modern leader should be. He represented Arizona and the United States with class and dignity, and the courage and incredible strength that he demonstrated, in every test a man could face, impacted everyone who simply heard his story. His love for life was contagious and his passion for his family, state, country, and all Arizona sports teams left you optimistic and energized.
When Senator John McCain died Saturday, August 25, 2018, 4 days short of his 82nd birthday, the tributes were quick to mention his family’s prestigious lineage within the American military. McCain’s father and grandfather — both of whom shared his name — were the first father and son in US Navy history to become full admirals.
But often overlooked is the influence McCain’s mother, Roberta, had on his upbringing and political life. Now, still living at age 106, she has outlived the child she still calls “Johnny,” whose death she faced once before when he was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967 and presumed lost during that war.
Prepared and presented by:
James Hulton III
USAF Vietnam Era Veteran Officer
The Write Stuff
North Wales, PA 19454