An American Patriot

Every so often someone who embodies duty and self-sacrifice in service to their country enters public life, and we are all the better for it. Senator John McCain was one of those individuals.

McCain and I did not see eye to eye on a lot of public policy issues. However, John McCain’s service to this country will forever hold a special place in my heart. There were three events that solidified McCain’s position in history as a true US patriot.

The first came at a time when men of a particular status were doing everything they could to avoid their country’s call to serve in the Vietnam war. John McCain, however, was cut from a different cloth. When others ran away from the fight, McCain ran full speed ahead. He believed that it was his duty to fight for his country.

As a Navy pilot, McCain volunteered for combat action and flew 22 successful air missions. Then on October 26, 1967, his 23rd mission, he was shot down over Hanoi Vietnam. McCain fractured both arms and a leg when he ejected from his aircraft, and almost drowned after he parachuted into a lake. North Vietnamese soldiers dragged him ashore, and so began his time as a POW.

McCain suffered regular beatings and was subjected to torture at the hands of his captors for five and a half years. Then one day he was granted his freedom, on the condition that his fellow prisoners remain captives. His response was an act of courage that few would offer and one that will live in infamy. He turned the Viet Cong down, stating he would only accept their offer if all the prisoners who had been captured before him were also set free.

The second public display of Senator McCain’s unwavering service to his county occurred when he ran for president in 2008. I’ll let the clip do the talking.

In that moment McCain stood up to the racism and the dangerous brand of politics that had infected the Republican Party. He showed that he was a man of principles and he would not be compromised for a vote. It took political courage and leadership, the likes of which we have not seen from the Republican Party in a long time. Unfortunately for the nation, the Republican Party did not take the path of McCain; they choose the lady in the red.

The final moment in McCain’s remarkable life happened just last year. Republicans were in a battle to strip Americans of their healthcare. As Republicans jammed their bill through the Senate, breaking congressional norms to achieve their goal, Senator McCain chose principle over party. In the face of immense pressure, he cast the deciding no vote, and in so doing, killed the Republican’s attempt to take healthcare away from millions of Americans. The Internet can be a dark place, but it can also be a fantastic source of entertainment. Here’s a gem of a video capturing the moment McCain chose country over party with a fun little twist.

As we try to process the passing of John McCain, lots will be said about his imperfect voting record and inability to govern effectively at times. McCain didn’t live or govern perfectly. He would be the first to tell you he made plenty of mistakes along the way. One thing we know for certain about John McCain is that he tried to find the best in people, even when they disagreed. Above all else, he answered the call to serve his country honorably. Senator John McCain was a true patriot and will be deeply missed.

Thank you for your service Senator and may you rest in peace, Maverick.

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