On August 25, 2018, 81-year old John Sidney McCain III died in his home in Cornville, Arizona. And as a nation mourns, it also remembers the accomplishments of his life.
John McCain was the son and grandson of four-star admirals, whose footsteps he followed as he graduated from the United States Naval Academy and became a Naval aviator. In his military career, he is most remembered for being a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War for five and a half years. Although he was tortured and pressured to release anti-American statements, McCain constantly resisted against camp authorities and even refused to be released earlier than his fellow prisoners after his captors found out that his father was an admiral.
After briefly pursuing to become a full admiral in the Navy, McCain decided to run for Congress saying that he “could do more good there.” He then retired from the Navy as a captain with many decorations and awards including the Silver Star, two Legion of Merits, two Purple Hearts, and the Prisoner of War Medal.
McCain would then run for and win the seat as Representative of Arizona’s 1st Congressional District in 1982 and be re-elected in 1984. In 1986, McCain decided to run for Senate and won.
Throughout his career in both the House of Representatives and Senate, McCain was often known as a “maverick,” as he was unafraid to question the Republican Party leaders. In the middle of his third term as Senator, McCain announced his candidacy for president for the 2000 election and was the solid challenger to George W. Bush for the Republican presidential nomination. Although he lost to Bush, McCain ran again in 2008, this time securing the Republican nomination.
It was during this election when McCain showed the U.S. perhaps his most memorable moment of respect and civility. During a campaign rally, he was approached by a supporter who told him that she could not trust Obama because “he [was] an Arab.” To which he responded: “No ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.” McCain lost the election but he continued on to finishing his fourth term as Senate and continued on to his fifth and sixth.
For the remainder of his career, he resumed his position as the “maverick” of the Republican party, especially in regards to the recently elected President Trump. McCain continuously voiced his disapproval of potential Russian involvement with Trump during the 2016 election.
Amidst his political career, McCain was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in 2017 during an operation to remove a blood clot above his eye. He announced that he would continue to serve as he received chemotherapy. However, on August 24, 2018, the McCain family announced that he would do without further treatment for his cancer and passed away the next day.
McCain’s office released a posthumous letter in which he implored Americans to unite with one another in a world full of troubles. “We weaken… 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 always have been,” he wrote. “We never hide from history. We make history.”
Eve Itaya, an AP Literature and Composition teacher at Valencia High School shares her thoughts on McCain with JSR. “Politically, there were many things that I disagreed with [John McCain] on. But, I cannot disagree with anyone who says that McCain was a national role model and leader who lived a life full of valor, honesty, and respect. He was in all aspects, a good man.”
Although it is too soon to tell whether or not the American citizens will follow through with McCain’s posthumous request, there is no argument that America has come together to honor and respect the values, beliefs, and life that John McCain had.
Evan Kim, Grade 12
Valencia High School