We, the people of America, lost a good one this past week in John McCain.
McCain was a longtime U.S. senator in Arizona. He died last Saturday at age 81 after battling brain cancer. He also served in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was a two-time presidential candidate. He was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He was a true hero.
But, he was so much more than that. In reading and watcher the memorials dedicated to McCain, two words popped out – dignity and class.
McCain had both – and he used both in most aspects of his life. In fact, in a statement released this week after his death, he said something you don’t hear from very many politicians these days.
“I've made mistakes, but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them,” he wrote.
Politicians do make mistakes, and there isn’t a single one who is perfect – McCain included. But what made him stand apart for so many years was his dignity.
He was dignified in 2008 when he ran as the Republican nominee for president – a race he eventually lost to Barack Obama. McCain would not pander to his supporters when they attacked Obama’s heritage. McCain defended Obama, and the rest is history.
Did he lose because of that? Who knows? But one thing was always clear with McCain – he was going to do things his way, which, for him, was the right way.
On Saturday, Obama and former President George W. Bush spoke at his formal funeral in Washington – at McCain’s request. Earlier this week, former Vice President Joe Biden was among the many men – Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Mike Pence and others – who spoke at services for McCain. Biden said McCain "could not stand the abuse of power wherever he saw it, in whatever form, in whatever country."
That alone says a lot about McCain – politicians from both sides of the aisle may not have agreed with McCain on anything or everything, but it is quite apparent that they respected the man. And, that’s not something that can be said for all of our politicians.
In his farewell statement, McCain wrote something that we think every American should take to heart.
“We are citizens of the world's greatest republic,” McCain wrote. “A nation of ideals, not blood and soil. We are blessed and 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. We have acquired great wealth and power in the process. We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with 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 have 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'll get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do.”
Amen. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Today, McCain will be buried at the U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland, but his memory shall always live on.
John McCain made this country a better place. Our world today is diminished without him, but we were lucky to have him. The world could use more John McCains
Thank you, Sen. John McCain.