Senator McCain’s Last Words
Senator John McCain died last week. Make no mistake about it, McCain was an American hero. He served in the Navy as a pilot and his plane was shot down over Hanoi during the Vietnam War. During his landing, he broke both arms and a leg, almost drowning in a lake. He was captured by the North Vietnamese and was tortured (bound and beaten) three times a day, everyday. Because his father was an admiral, his captives offered to release him to look sympathetic. McCain refused release until his fellow prisoners were released. He served 5.5 years as a prisoner of war. McCain endured permanent life-long disabilities as a result.
McCain went on to be elected 6 times to the United State Senate. He even ran as the Republican Presidential Candidate against Barack Obama in 2008. He had a reputation as a Maverick. He worked across the isle and saught bipartisan solutions to America’s problems. Before he died, he asked presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush to give his eulogies. Even in death, he was sending a message that Republicans and Democrats should come together.
In the days before his death, he wrote a letter to all Americans. His words are worth reading. Hopefully, we will listen, and embrace the legacy of John McCain.
“My fellow Americans, whom I have gratefully served for 60 years, and especially my fellow Arizonans,
Thank you for the privilege of serving you and for the rewarding life of service in uniform and service in public office has allowed me to lead. I have tried to serve our country honorably. I have made mistakes, but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them.
I’ve often observed that I’m the luckiest person on earth. I feel that way even now as I prepare for the end of my life. I’ve loved my life, all of it. I’ve had experiences, adventures, friendships enough for 10 satisfying lives, and I am so thankful. Like most people, I have regrets. But I would not trade a day of my life, in good or bad times, for the best day of anybody else’s.
Fellow Americans, that association has meant more to me than any other. I lived and died a proud American. We are citizens of the world’s greatest Republic, a nation of ideals — not blood and soil. We are blessed and are a blessing to humanity when we uphold and advance those ideals at home and in the world. We have helped liberate more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history, and we have acquired great wealth and great power in the process.
We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals rather than trust them to be the great force for change they’ve always been. We are 325 million opinionated vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country, we will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do.
Ten years ago, I had the privilege to concede defeat in the election for president. I want to end my farewell to you with heartfelt faith in Americans that I felt so powerfully that evening. I feel it powerfully still. Do not despair of our present difficulties. We believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit, we never surrender, we never hide from history. We make history. Farewell, fellow Americans. God bless you and God bless America.”
Your Turn: I know many are not into politics, but his words are meant for you, the next generation. What message do you take from Senator McCain’s final words?