John McCain was a monumental American. In our time of increased acrimony, he urged us to embrace our better angels and return to a politics of civil discourse—where your political beliefs were just an aspect of who you are, not an indictment of your existence. He wore his maverick moniker well in the Senate, at times shirking the barriers of party lines in his quest for a better America for all.
Few people could endure what Senator John McCain did and emerge with even a fraction of his grace. Famously refusing an early release from a Hanoi prison camp until his comrades who were captured before him were released, McCain would spend five-and-a-half years as a captive in North Vietnam.
His experience shaped his appreciation and understanding of the possibilities of America, and urged him to a path of public service. McCain would spend the next four decades in the United States Congress and Senate, culminating in a Republican presidential nomination in 2008. An election he would lose to Barack Obama, John McCain’s famous humility and decorum would not give way to resentment and bitterness.
In his courageous concession speech, McCain stated: “A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt’s invitation of Booker T. Washington to visit — to dine at the White House — was taken as an outrage in many quarters. America today is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African American to the presidency of the United States. Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.”
“Senator Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country.”
The politics of 2008 seem eons away from those of 2018. Senator John McCain represented the goodness of our country, and in the wake of his passing, we should remember a man who put the right thing over the expedient thing. We need more leaders like John McCain.