As a young boy, I always remembered there were two groups of men that my father always held up to me as heroes: the “Mercury Seven” and the POWs from the Vietnam War. In fact, I still have copies of newspapers and news magazines from the POWs returning home in 1973 in almost mint condition that he purchased for me to keep. Not worth anything monetarily but they always served to remind me of something greater during my years in uniform when on occasion I would see them in my box of youthful memorabilia.
As I grew older and more aware of politics, Senator John S. McCain became a politician whom I followed and as a young man admired. He was of course a notable POW and a Naval Aviator. And I too was on a path into Naval Aviation following in the footsteps of my grandfather and other family members, so I could also relate to Senator McCain taking part in the “family business.” And he had a sense of humor; a very good one. Something else I inherited from my father and certainly something that seems to run through the blood of Naval Aviation. Simply put, I always felt that I could relate to Senator McCain at some level.
Now this is not to say that I think every political position taken by Senator McCain was the right course of action. Indeed, later in life, I would disagree much with some of his political stances, and I will admit that as I became more interested in breaking out of the two-party political system, I never voted for him in a Presidential election. (I didn’t vote for his main opponent either to be clear.) But even with that, I never lost respect for his sense of service to our Nation.
Senator McCain chose to serve. Whether in Vietnam, in Congress or in trying to reach the White House, he served, and I think for all of the right and noble reasons. Again, like us all he was far from perfect both personally and professionally. But still, he chose to serve. And if anything, perhaps that is a key takeaway for everyone in his passing. We are all called to serve.
So, may we also all make that choice to serve our fellow man and country in some way, and may we also recognize that sense of service in others even with how imperfect they might be.