On August 25, 2018, the nation lost one of its greatest patriots when Arizona Senator John McCain died of a malignant brain tumor at the age of 81.
Since that time, the tributes to the great man have been pouring in from dignitaries and politicians alike, making up all walks of life, each communicating their respect and love for John McCain. Perhaps, the most eloquent of these came from former President George W. Bush.
“Some lives are so vivid, it is difficult to imagine them ended,” the former president said. “Some voices are so vibrant, it is hard to think of them stilled. John McCain was a man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order.”
It is a rare person who will have those whom have opposed him praise him, despite their previous competition. However, this is exactly what happened with McCain. Even though he went head-to-head against both President Obama and Bush in presidential campaigns, McCain asked them to deliver eulogies at his funeral. Both former presidents were honored, and are planning on speaking at the senator’s funeral. The fact that even those whom he has opposed are willing to stand up and speak on his behalf in such a way is evidence of the immense respect he has garnered from his colleagues.
It’s not only former presidents and colleagues who have spoken out about McCain, but various publications as well. The Wall Street Journal called him “a principled leader” and CNN eulogized him as a “War hero. Statesman. Maverick. One of the leading voices in American politics.”
Though Senator McCain’s lengthy career and work as a politician is admirable, it was prior to his work in the U.S. Armed Forces when he earned his reputation as a patriot. It occurred in October 26, 1967, when McCain’s Skyhawk dive bomber was shot down over Hanoi during the Vietnam War. During the crash, McCain’s right arm was broken in three places, his right leg was broken and his left arm was fractured.
Without the use of novacain, Vietnamese doctors attempted to set the bones of his right arm. He ended up in a chest cast because there was no way for doctors to repair the damage. He then endured torture from his communist captures until the end of the war, including two years in solitary confinement. His only means of communication was tapping codes through prison walls.
McCain’s father was serving as the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific. This meant camp officials offered him release at one point, but McCain refused to be set free before others who were imprisoned before him. Throughout his imprisonment, he was often tortured and he dealt with the ravages of dysentery for over a year. He was finally released in 1973 but was left with lifelong, permanent injuries, due the mistreatment he received during his time as a prisoner of war.
Sacrificial courage is what made John McCain such a unique individual. His remarkable willingness to sacrifice for his country and his fellow soldiers is remarkable, especially in today’s “me first” society. After all, human nature is self serving, making McCain’s willingness to sacrifice for his country for decades that much more courageous and admirable. His willingness to remain in confinement during his prisoner-of-war time is an example of this sacrificial courage. However, the fact that he stood up against others, even in his party and when his health was failing, is yet another example of McCain’s courageous, self-sacrificial spirit.
God be with the Senator’s family as they lay him to rest.
~ 1776 Christian