The Transylvania Times -

McCain: Great Public Servant


August 27, 2018

When U.S. Sen. John McCain passed away Saturday from his battle with brain cancer, America lost a great public servant. He had served the U.S. in some capacity for the entire 60 years of his adult life.

McCain was born at a U.S. naval air station in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936. His father, John S. McCain Jr., would later become commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command.

“I was raised in a military family. I was raised in the concept and belief that duty, honor, country is the lodestar for the behavior that we have to exhibit every single day,” he said on 60 Minutes earlier this year.

McCain’s most painful sacrifice came during the Vietnam War. On Oct. 26, 1967, his plane was shot down over North Vietnam. He ejected from his plane, but broke both arms and his right leg. He spent the next five-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war. He was offered early release from the “Hanoi Hilton,” but he declined. He refused to be a propaganda piece for the North Vietnamese and refused to receive preferential treatment. Due to his refusal to be released early and his father’s stature in the military, McCain was tortured and beaten by his captors, who rebroke one of his arms and broke his ribs. These effects of injuries were lifelong, as he was never able to raise his hands above his head.

After retiring from the military in the early 1980s, McCain was elected to serve in the U.S. House in 1982. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986, where he served until his death.

As a senator, McCain was his own man. He considered himself a conservative Republican, worked across the aisle and broke ranks with his own party when he thought it was best for the country. He often voted with his Republican peers but voted against the tax cuts of George W. Bush and strongly supported campaign finance legislation. Based partly on his experience as a POW, he opposed harsh interrogation tactics, such as waterboarding. His latest independent vote came just weeks after he was diagnosed with brain cancer when he returned to the Senate and provided the decisive vote that killed the bill that would have repealed Obamacare. Asked why he voted against killing Obamacare, he said, “I thought it was the right thing to do.”

Unlike many politicians, McCain put integrity, honesty and country above his own political aspirations. During his presidential campaign in 2008, a woman at one of his rallies criticized Barack Obama and called him an Arab. McCain responded, “No, Ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with.” And in his concession speech after the election, McCain said, “Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president.”

Like any human, McCain had his faults, faults he knew better than anyone else. In the 1990s, he was a group of five senators admonished by Ethic Committee for “poor judgment” for intervening on behalf of Charles Keating, a wealthy donor involved in savings and loan scandal. He acknowledged that his temper “does not always serve my interest or the public’s.”

As McCain said of himself, “I’ve been an imperfect servant of my country for many years, but I’ve been a servant first, last and always.”

His ability to judge every situation and person on their own merits extended to the very end of his life when he requested that former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, both of whom he campaigned against in seeking the presidency in 2000 and 2008 respectively, to speak at his funeral.

The respect of peers from both political parties was no more evident than immediately upon his death Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Jeff Flake (R.-Ariz.) announced their intentions to sponsor legislation that would rename Russell Senate Office Building in McCain’s honor. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said renaming the building in his name “would be a great tribute.”

Members of both political parties have stated that whether or not they agreed with McCain on certain issues, he was a man of courage, integrity and acted based on what he perceived was the good of the country.

Great nations are made of great people, people who, despite their faults, provide great service to their countries. John McCain was such a man, and his service to this nation will be greatly missed.


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