Katherine Pecora, Staff Writer
The United States is experiencing an upheaval of civility and common decency. But, what divides us is so much less than what unites us. That is what the life of Senator John McCain will go on to teach generations far after ours. We were so lucky to live in a time where one of our leaders in this wonderful country was John McCain.
McCain followed in the steps of his father and grandfather attending the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. After graduating fifth from the bottom of his class, he went on to graduate from flight school in 1960. As the Vietnam War started, McCain volunteered for combat duty and flew carrier-based attack planes. On Oct. 26, 1967, his plane was shot down over Hanoi, Vietnam. When his captors learned of his lineage, the son of a high-ranking officer in the U.S. Navy, he was offered an early release. McCain refused; he would not let the North Vietnamese use him as a piece of propaganda. McCain was a true American patriot, putting his country first. He bled and suffered for this country. He spent five and a half years in prison camps and over three years in solitary confinement, where he was tortured and beaten. He earned the Silver star, Bronze star, Purple Heart and Flying Cross.
In a letter read by longtime aide Rick Davis, McCain stated “We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal 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.” McCain was mocked by a coward, Donald Trump, the President of the United States “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured,” said Trump. Nonetheless, McCain continued to work hard for what he believed in, he was not a man that would be bullied.
His political ascension began in 1976 when he was assigned as the Navy’s liaison to the U.S. Senate. He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1982, then re-elected in 1984.
In 1986, the door was opened by the retirement of Arizona Senator and former presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, to run for the Senate. McCain earned the reputation as a conservative but one that was not afraid to question the “group think mentality” that can often consume politics. A pivotal moment was McCain’s thumbs down for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act on July 27, 2017. He called for a correction of the legislation rather than a full repeal. John McCain saved the healthcare of many Americans that day.
In July of 2017, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. On Aug. 24 2018, his family released a statement that he would be discontinuing his treatment. On Aug. 25, McCain passed away. Though not broken, the foundation of the United States has cracked with the death of McCain. We have truly lost a remarkable human being. It is the duty of those in elected office to follow his morality, kindness and decency. Regardless of party, they must do what is morally right and will make this country better for all, not just for some. For the lessons that we all learned from Senator McCain, a true American hero, thank you. Rest in peace.