Sen. John McCain represented the best of America, the finest of his breed, and the noblest of humanity.
His fortitude was undeniable. After being shot down on a wartime mission over North Vietnam the Navy pilot suffered brutally at the hands of his captors. For almost six years he endured excruciating pain from merciless torturers. From then on, until his sad passing, he was unable to raise his arms above his shoulders as a result of the savage blows to his body.
He withstood it all. Such was his valor.
Long after his release and repatriation he stoically objected to the use of torture, even against those committed to the demise of America.
No one but McCain could take such a principled stand because he knew from personal experience what he was talking about.
Deeply imbued with the military standing of his illustrious father and grandfather, McCain continued their role of service when called upon.
In civilian life he rose to eminence in the U.S. Senate. Though a Republican, his later years endeared him to people of opposing political beliefs because of his votes in the interests of all Americans. Few will ever forget his outspoken stand against the rising tide of intolerance within and without the hallowed chamber.
Before succumbing to brain cancer, McCain called for humility and cooperation between both parties, “to learn how to trust each other again. Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the Internet. To hell with them. They don’t want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood… We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle.”
Yes, he had his faults, like all of us. He could be prickly and curt at times. But I prefer to remember him as a courageous survivor of inhumanity, his valedictory to fellow legislators and the American people, his gentlemanly silence when the president indefensibly slandered him for being captured by the enemy, and his enduring stature, especially when I sometimes saw him alone, waiting for an elevator in the Russell Senate Office Building.
A good man has passed but the role model survives.