Last night, the nation received news that God gained an angel who was the true embodiment of an American hero and patriot. As the country mourns the loss of John Sidney McCain III, we celebrate his life, his achievements, and his unending service to the United States of America.
Senator McCain, son of four-star Admiral John McCain Jr. and Roberta McCain, was born in the Panama Canal Zone on August 29th, 1936. He was a wonderful father to seven kids, and was married twice, first to Carol Shepp, and then to Cindy McCain (Hensley), whom he was happily married to until his last day.
The grandson of Admiral John McCain Sr., a four-star admiral, he was born to a military family with deep ties to fighting for our nation. Senator McCain, a man of unparalleled honor who was filled with a love and belief in our country and its principles, followed in his family’s footsteps upon graduating from the United States Naval Academy by enlisting in the Navy in 1958.
The former Republican presidential nominee finished flight school in 1960 and became a naval aviator. In the mid-1960s, he requested a combat assignment during the Vietnam War and was assigned to the USS Forrestal and flew an A-4 Skyhawk. McCain ascended to the rank of Lieutenant Commander and during Operation Rolling Thunder in 1967, a surface-to-air missile took down his A-4 Skyhawk and he suffered significant injuries by breaking both arms and one leg in the crash. He was subsequently captured by the Viet Cong and taken to the notorious Hanoi Hilton, where his nearly six-year torture as a prisoner of war (POW) began.
Before McCain’s first year as a POW was over, the Viet Cong became aware of his father’s capacity as Commander of the U.S. Naval Forces in the Pacific and continually offered him unconditional release. In spite of his serious injuries and the inferior medical treatment received for them, he repeatedly refused, adamantly. His captors told him that his refusal would be “very bad” for him, yet McCain, honorably, continued adhering to the military POW code and would not accept early repatriation and refused to leave until every POW before him left.
He credits his time at the Hanoi Hilton as where he truly fell in love with America. At his candidacy announcement for president in 2000, he stated, “It wasn’t until I was deprived of (America’s) company that I fell in love with America, and it has been my honor to serve her and her great cause of freedom.”
McCain never considered himself a war hero, but his actions during the Vietnam War, his commitment to the United States, and his refusal to leave his comrades regardless of the torture and his injuries, are of such a high-standard. It is hard to believe someone’s moral compass was so fine-tuned as Senator McCain’s was.
Senator McCain’s first experience in politics came during the late 1970’s when he was a liaison to the Senate. This position served, as the Los Angeles Times noted, like an “apprenticeship” and is where his lifelong civil service career was birthed.
In 1982, McCain moved to Arizona and became a Congressman by winning Arizona’s First Congressional District. He was labeled a “carpetbagger” and an “opportunist.” When faced with these allegations during a debate, he replied, with his stern, yet respectful charm and wit the nation would end up admiring him for, that as a twenty-two year veteran of the navy and son of a Naval officer, he moved around a lot and wished he had the privilege of living in Arizona his entire life. Further, he said, “…The place I lived longest in my life was Hanoi.”
McCain won re-election in 1984 and in 1986 was elected to replace the prominent and retiring Republican Senator, Barry Goldwater, in the Senate. McCain would continue to win every election as a Senator until his death.
Senator McCain will be remembered as the “Maverick” of the Senate. A transparent and honest man with the public who was never afraid to question Republican orthodox when he believed it strayed from a moral or logical path. History will tell his legacy as a veteran-turned-Senator whose advocacy for the military was unrelenting, and how he fought endlessly for the tradition of limited government and individual free will. He will be recognized as a patriot who always had America and her people’s best interest first, and who was not afraid to break the status quo for what he deemed paramount. He was also a politician who never played dirty and held himself to a higher standard, something that seems lost in today’s political landscape. Senator McCain was a true servant of the public.
I had the honor of working on his final campaign and being able to meet and speak to the Senator many times. It was my introduction to politics, and like most, I had the belief that politicians were somewhat devious. When I met the Senator for the first time, I was shocked by his energy, genuineness, and his good sense of humor. I am an avid gym goer and the first thing he said to me was, “looks like you should probably start hitting the gym more, your shirt looks too big on you.” We laughed and shook hands. Before I could respond, he told me how much it meant to him that I was working on his campaign, and if there was anything I needed, he told me to reach out to him.
I didn’t have any words. It was my privilege to work for him and it meant everything to me for the opportunity. Throughout the campaign, the Senator was in the Phoenix headquarters where I was, a lot. He made sure to say hello to everyone and thank everyone, especially volunteers, for their time and effort before he would start his meetings and before he would leave. He always made sure everyone was happy at the office and if there were any problems, he made sure it got solved. He cared deeply about everyone on the campaign and you could tell that he felt humbled and blessed to have us working to get him re-elected. His victory speech was full of thanks and praise for everyone on the campaign. I personally do not think that there was a bad bone in that man’s body, and his unfortunate death will leave a void in American politics for some time to come.
John Sidney McCain III will be missed, but his legacy will live on in America as a true hero and patriot. May he rest in peace. God Bless.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.