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Remembering John McCain

Graphic by Gelila Negesse

Graphic by Gelila Negesse

Gelila Negesse, Reporter

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John Sidney McCain III, an American veteran and politician, passed away on Aug. 25, 2018, after struggling with brain cancer for months.McCain, known as a hero to many, served the United States for 60 years as a military officer and Senator and has a special place in many American hearts.

The son and grandson of former U.S. Navy commanders spent his early life studying at the United States Naval Academy, leading to his service in the U.S Navy. While serving in the Vietnam War as a ground-attack pilot, his plane was shot down and he was captured by the North Vietnamese and kept as a prisoner of war. The North Vietnamese offered him early release. However, McCain refused to be released until all of his fellow American prisoners were released alongside him.

“He was one of the longest prisoner of wars,” AP World History teacher Christopher McMillan said.“He almost died. He had to be nursed back to health by the other prisoners. He could barely hold his head up.”

For five years, McCain suffered damage so severe that he never was able to raise his arms above his shoulders. After five years, he was welcomed home with service awards such as the Legion Merit Award.

“A family that has a long line in high ranking service in military is something that is less of nowadays,” sociology teacher Jess Collier said. “He gave an incredible amount of sacrifice while being a prisoner of war.”

In 1981, he retired from the U.S. Navy and jump started in his political career. A year later, McCain won a seat in the House of Representatives as a Republican. He later ran again in 1986, for the U.S. Senate, winning the seat he held up to his final days. Through his rise in American politics, McCain to announced his second run for president. He ran a competitive campaign but lost against Barack Obama in 2008.

“McCain was respectful during his race, even when his supporters began expressing fears of Obama being a terrorist,” McMillan said. “He would stop them and told them how those things weren’t true. McCain never trashed talked [Obama].”

After his loss, McCain returned to the Senate where he spent his time working on foreign policy and military such as visiting the conflict in Syria, the highest ranking elected official to do so as well as introducing bills to help veterans access healthcare benefits.

McMillan doesn’t agree with all of McCain’s views. However, he thinks McCain did a phenomenal job when creating compromises that would make everyone happy such as his stance to find common ground with the Affordable Care Act.

“McCain was the last of a dying breed,” McMillan said. “I think this nation is better off having him served.”

“Sacrifice is something we can all take from his time in the senate,” said Collier. “The spirit of serving a country for someone’s whole life has become more and more rare.”

Many of McCain’s close colleagues gave their condolences and expressed their deep connection to him.

Former President Barack Obama said at McCain’s memorial service that McCain made him, other former presidents, the Senate and the country better. He also expressed the long-standing admiration he had for McCain.

His family, a very important part of McCain’s legacy, gave their final goodbyes at his memorial service.

McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, said through a tearful eulogy how great of a man, warrior, American, and mostly father McCain was.

McCain leaves behind a wife, seven children and five grandchildren.

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