In Memoriam: John McCain

It’s hard to write an eloquent memoriam of McCain when many an author have captured McCain’s and eloquence so much better. Yet, as my friends would note, my view of McCain is complicated. Writer Jeff Barker captured my thoughts perfectly:

“But he [McCain] once told me that Udall naturally possessed something McCain had to continually strive for — grace. McCain could be engaging and jocular but also temperamental, sometimes holding years-long grudges or allowing his passion for a pet cause to override his better instincts.”

Yeah. Been there myself. Truth be told, we all hold grudges.

Still, in the spirit of love, while walking my parent’s dog on the outskirts of Tucson, AZ, I calmly listened to many a resident openly admiring the man who represented the state. However, when querying about what McCain had done for them in the last 5 years, not one could answer. Statisticians could claim McCain was no Maverick, for he voted along party lines approximately 94% of the time. Yet I will focus on McCain, the hero.

I was seven years old when McCain’s Skyhawk dive bomber was shot down over Vietnam. While I played ‘Army’ in the backyard, McCain spent five and a half years in North Vietnam being tortured. He refused to leave the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ without fellow POWs’. Thus, when I think of the rift between a current leader and McCain, I remember Khizr Khan directly addressing a political candidate, “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”

McCain’s worldview can be paraphrased from his last words to America:

And I owe it to America. To be connected to America’s causes – liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people – brings happiness more sublime than life’s fleeting pleasures. Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves.

But the uniqueness of John McCain are echoed in Meghan McCain’s tribute.

“In the … years we shared together, he raised me, taught me, corrected me, comforted me, encouraged me and supported me in all things. He taught me how to live. His love and his care, ever present, always unfailing, took me from a girl to a woman — and he showed me what it is to be a man.”

… the task of my lifetime is to live up to his example, his expectations and his love.”

Ponder Ms. McCain’s note“He showed what it is to be a man.”

I was in the military and received medals. But I’m no hero. Borrowing from the Bible,  I am not worthy to untie the strap of McCain’s shoes. Dale Carnegie once wrote, ” The ideas I stand for are not mine. I borrowed them from Socrates. I swiped them from Chesterfield. I stole them from Jesus.”  McCain is a true ‘once in a lifetime real deal.’ We will miss him dearly.

So my friends … live to his example.



Categories: Life Lessons, Social Justice

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