Today is September 1, 2018. Arizona Senator John McCain’s body lie in state in the Washington National Cathedral. Since 1852, only thirty-three persons have been honored this way. The American flag was draped across his cold coffin. The temperature began to climb into the high eighties as the sun peaked through cloudy skies.
If someone argues that being a prisoner of war for five and a half years would not justify the title of American Hero, it may be necessary to add that McCain was held in solitary confinement for two of those years and he refused to be released because he was the son of a notable Navy admiral. Instead of complying to be set free, he subjected himself to torture.
“I just knew it wasn’t the right thing to do,” (McCain) said. “I knew that they wouldn’t have offered (my release) if I hadn’t been the son of an admiral.I just didn’t think it was the honorable thing to do.”[The Arizona Republic] 2007.
The love contained in John McCain’s heart was not transformed during his capture. He maintained his sense of humor and seldom complained about his physical condition. If one ever wondered why he made unusual movements and never seemed to offer a full salute, it must be known that McCain’s limbs were pulled from their sockets from being hung by his arms. After McCain was released, he would no longer be able to comb his hair.
The story of John McCain does not end with his release. His experience of being a captive in Hanoi only heightened his sense of duty and honor to his country.In 2008, McCain received the GOP’s nomination for president. During his speech at the Republican National Convention, he recalled that his love for the U.S. grew while he was in Vietnam:
“I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else’s. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasn’t my own man anymore. I was my country’s.”
Being released as a captive was just the beginning of McCain’s journey in his quest of serving his country. McCain served since 1983 in the U.S. House and Senate, including being elected to six Senate terms and rising to be a senior voice on defense and foreign policy.9/1/2018. Fortune.
On July 15, 2015, while appearing at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, presidential candidate Donald Trump made an outrageous statement about McCain that seemed sure to be the death blow of his candidacy:
“He’s not a war hero,” said Trump. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”At a press availability following his remarks, Trump continued his attacks on McCain, saying, “I think John McCain’s done very little for the veterans. I’m very disappointed in John McCain.”
Regardless of Trump’s crass comments, he would later shock the nation by becoming the 45th president. For the next fifteen months, up until McCain’s imminent death from brain cancer, Trump would never apologize for his cruel words about McCain.
This brings us back to the beginning of the story on September 1. In preparation of his death, McCain invited two former presidents to speak at his memorial. Strikingly, Barrack Obama and George W. Bush both bitterly rivaled McCain for the highest title of the land. McCain refused to invite the sitting president. The wound never healed between Trump and McCain.
Without mentioning his name, the veiled swipes at Trump were obvious to the mourners in the cathedral:
“John understood …that part of what makes our country great is that our membership is based not on our bloodline, not on what we look like, what our last names are, it’s not based on where our parents or grandparents came from, or how recently they arrived, but on adherence to a common creed: that all of us are created equal, endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights.
“…John understood that our security and our influence was won not just by our military might, not just by our wealth, not just by our ability to bend others to our will, but from our capacity to inspire others with our adherence to a set of universal values, like rule of law and human rights, and an insistence on the God-given dignity of every human being.”
“So much of our politics, our public life, our public discourse can seem small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insult and phony controversies and manufactured outrage. It’s a politics that pretends to be brave and tough, but in fact is born of fear. John called on us to be bigger than that. He called on us to be better than that.
That’s perhaps how we honor him best, by recognizing that there are some things bigger than party or ambition or money or fame or power. That there are some things that are worth risking everything for: principles that are eternal, truths that are abiding. At his best, John showed us what that means. For that, we are all deeply in his debt.”
McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain:
“We gather here to mourn the passing of America greatness. The real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly. Nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who live lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served.
“John McCain was not defined by prison, by the Navy, by the senate, by the Republican Party or by any single one of the deeds in his absolutely extraordinary life.
“John McCain was defined by love…..
“I was a small girl thrown from a horse and crying from a busted collarbone. My dad picked me up, he took me to the doctor and got me all fixed up. Then he immediately took me back home and made me get back on that very same horse. I was furious at him as a child, but how I love him for it now.
“My father knew pain and suffering with an intimacy and immediacy that most of us are blessed never to have endured. He was shot down, he was crippled, he was beaten, he was starved, he was tortured and he was humiliated. That pain never left him. The cruelty of his communist captors ensured that he would never raise his arms above his head for the rest of his life. Yet he survived, yet he endured, yet he triumphed. And there was this man who had been through all that with a little girl who simply didn’t want to get back on her horse. He could have sat me down and told me all of that and made me feel small because my complaint and my fear was nothing next to his pain and memory.
“Instead, he made me feel loved.
“‘Meghan,’ he said, his quiet voice that spoke with authority and meant you had best obey, ‘get back on the horse.’ I did and because I was a little girl, I resented it. Now that I am a woman, I look back across that time and see the expression on his face when I climbed back up and rode again, and I see the pride and love in his eyes as he said, ‘Nothing is going to break you.’
“For the rest of my life, whenever I fall down, I get back up. Whenever I am hurt, I drive on. Whenever I am brought low, I rise. That is not because I am uniquely virtuous or strong or resilient. It is simply because my father, John McCain, was.
“That is what love meant to John McCain. Love for my father also meant caring for the nation entrusted to him.
“The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great.”
During the memorial Donald Trump would be golfing at his property in Virginia. At 4PM, almost precisely the same time McCain’s daughter would be giving a tearful testimony about her father, Trump would prepare his final jab with smart phone in hand. From the twisted mind of a pathological narcissist, a lonely leader would once again attempt to crush his perceived enemies.
Remorse shows weakness. Toughness shows strength.
Through the silent darkness of space as the White House flag fluttered at half staff and McCain’s body was yet to be buried, Trump finally tweeted-
“MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
– by Diamond Mike Watson.