Who Was John McCain?

by Celina Simmons

A few weeks ago, the nation lost a faithful American. Senator John Sidney McCain served our country for 60 years in the Navy and as a strong political leader. On August 25 this year, McCain passed away from cancer at 81 years old. He suffered from a malignant brain tumor called glioblastoma, which he had been receiving radiation and chemotherapy for since the tumor was discovered in 2017. The day before his death, McCain opted out of treatment. His second wife, Cindy McCain, wrote, “He passed the way he lived, on his own terms, surrounded by the people he loved the most, in the place he loved the best.”

In his early life, McCain enrolled in the U.S. Naval Academy following his father’s footsteps as a Navy man. He was dispatched to Vietnam as a Navy Lieutenant Commander and was there captured as a war prisoner after the plane he was piloting got shot down.

He was tortured for five and a half years, from 1967 to 1973. McCain became the most famous prisoner of war due to the fact that at the time his father was Commander of all American forces in the Pacific. In captivity, McCain was sentenced to two years of solitary confinement, was beaten frequently, and attempted suicide twice. The torture was so severe that he dropped to 105 pounds. On March 14 1973, he was released and received a Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.

After nine months of painful rehabilitation, McCain returned to naval duty. It was soon noted that his injuries suffered would not allow him to advance in the Navy. Even after rehab, he could no longer raise his arms above his head, and suffered many years of trauma.

Unable to proceed in the Navy, McCain decided to take a political turn with his career. He was first elected in the House of Representatives in 1982, and was reelected in 1984. He found his place as a Reagan Republican, but would later move right or left in the political spectrum.

In 1986, McCain was elected to the U.S. Senate; he would spend six terms there. He earned a reputation as a maverick, or an independent-minded person, who would defy his republican party leaders and compromise with Democrats.

In 2000, John McCain ran for the presidential election against George W. Bush. After the Super Tuesday in March, McCain withdrew, as he was well behind in delegates, and endorsed Bush, who would later win the election.

McCain ran for president again in 2008, this time against Barack Obama. With a growing financial crisis in the U.S., voters worried about his vice-president option, Sarah Palin, and whether or not she qualified for the position. At one of McCain’s rallies, a woman commented on how she didn’t trust Obama and he On election day, Obama won with 57 percent of the popular vote and 365 votes in the Electoral College, but this was not the end of McCain’s political career.

By 2013, McCain had become a crucial figure in the Senate. He would meet with Obama and would frequently devise deals with him although he was an outspoken critic of the president. He joined what was called the “Gang of Eight,” which was a bipartisan group of senators that would collaborate on immigration reforms. In 2015, he achieved a longtime goal of becoming Chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

Senator John McCain was an honorable man who was not afraid to stand against what he believed was wrong. After the 2016 election, he was one of the few Republican voices to speak up against Donald Trump’s inappropriate statements. The nation will forever remember the sacrifices McCain made for our country and continue to be inspired by his bravery and ability to fight for what was right.

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