A Tribute to Senator John Sydney McCain III
I previously posted the beginning of this Tribute. The first part was not as short as I expected it to be. Remember the great moments when I regaled you with the tales of Boot Camp in Missouri at Fort Leonard Wood (we recruits called it Fort Misery. You can probably surmise why it gained that notoriety).
Introduction to a POW John McCain
Last time I was warming to my story of John McCain. As I left my tale of the Army in my rear-view mirror of life, I one day saw a news program. I watched in awe? horror? shock? I can't think of the word but it was probably all of them. On the news soon after March 14, 1973 I saw soldiers deplaning. The news anchor explained these men had flown in from Germany. They had been released from Prisoner of War Camps in North Vietnam.
You will remember it was only a few short months prior when I survived basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Our night on bivouac still weighed in my mind. It I took our two days on the miserable adventure and multiplied it by five years the result is 1,825, more nights that Mr. McCain spent in captivity with torture always as his companion.
Later, much later a more detailed account of the horrors of the Hanoi Hilton and other camps emerged. It wasn't until much, much later a complete story was let out of the bag. Now the story walks down the ramp, single file. A salute to the flag that they had served for such a long time in captivity (for John McCain it was more than five years!). I suffered thru 8 weeks of basic training. These guys numbered their suffering in YEARS! I could not have done it.
The Award Ceremony
On Monday, October 16, 2017. Senator John McCain of the great state of Arizona was awarded the Liberty Medal by the National Constitution Center and was presented to Senator McCain by a longtime friend former Vice President Joe Biden. This medal was awarded to Mr. McCain for his lifetime of sacrifice and service to his Nation.
Senator McCain's Remarkable Remarks
He began his remarks, after a short period of ribbing with Joe Biden (they had served in the United States Senate together), by recalling another Liberty Medal ceremony in 1991. He was attending the ceremony at the War Memorial at the USS Arizona in Hawaii. The recipient was former President George H. W. Bush. President Bush's remarks were emotional and heartfelt as he was a WWII pilot who had been to bail out from his aircraft over the Pacific Ocean. Mr. McCain related that Mr. Bush, who with a choked voice concluded "May God Bless them. May God Bless America, the most wondrous land on earth"
Mr. McCain then recalled the story I had heard such a young age. A story which shaped my life and my times indeed as his-story shaped these United States of America.
"We are blessed, and we are a blessing to humanity in turn. The international order we helped build from the ashes of world war, and we defend to this day, has liberated more people from tyranny and poverty ever before in history. This wondrous land has shared its treasures and ideals and shed the blood of its finest patriots to help make a new, better world. And as we do so, we made our own civilization, more just, freer, more accomplished and prosperous than the America which existed when I watched my father go off to war on December 7,1941.
Then Mr. McCain began the most telling part of his remarks. "To fear the world we organized and led for three quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain 'the last best hope of the earth' for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history. We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. Leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more shame on ourselves if we don't. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn't deserve to."
Now, dear reader, you may not know the spirit in which these words were given, nor the actions and words that led Mr. McCain to deliver them. I hope to address these issues in a future blog.
I will not take away one iota of the adulation due Mr. McCain. I would beg your patience with one more of my thoughts regarding Mr. McCain. He is not just a former POW or a six term Senator from Arizona. He is a Statesmen of this Country' The title of 'Statesman' is no granted lightly. Indeed it won't even be given in Mr. McCain's lifetime. There is no greater honor Mr. McCain lived for than the two great moments I was given the privilege to witness. The first was when, as the last Republican voting, he cast the vote to snatch the victory from the Republican's wicked attempt to disembowel the Affordable Care Act. The next were these words that will ring around the globe to face all of the wicked, evil and immoral attempts to change America from a leader to America that falls to its lowest common denominator.
This is the time to honor a great Statesman. We were honored, learning from and hopefully passing on to our children the sacrifice and service - the life of Mr. McCain. Undoubtedly, the brain cancer robbing him of years that should be devoted to peace and leadership will now be forsaken maybe before this year is out.
Images: Two of MY favorites. Monument Valley Arizona USA
I made a precarious presumption. I love these to photos. I presume Mr. McCain does also. However, if not... I can accept his apologizes later. Craig
© 2017 Craig Martineau