“Thank you for the privilege of serving you…”
-Senator John McCain
The United States lost an iconic public servant with the passing of Senator John McCain this past Saturday. For over 60 years he served the United States; first in armed services and then in politics. Regardless of one’s political leanings, (I personally disagreed with most of his policy positions) there is no doubt that he was a man who sought to live by the ideals he believed transcended politics.
I recall a widely circulated video from the 2008 presidential race in which Senator McCain called for respect for his opponent and eventual winner of the campaign, Barack Obama. A woman told the Senator at a rally that she couldn’t trust Obama and that she believed he was not from America, and therefore people should be afraid of him. Rather than indulge in such divisiveness, Mr. McCain promptly shook his head, took the microphone and said that his opponent was a decent family man and a fellow citizen who he happened to disagree with on policy issues. He went on to say that is what campaigns are all about. He modeled that we can disagree without hurling personal attacks on others. Even as his supporters expressed surprise in the background, McCain continued to defend Obama, saying he respected him and wanted everyone to be respectful of one another, as well.
Knowing that he was close to making his transition, McCain wrote a letter to America with a message that is appropriate for all the world to heed. He wrote in part:
We are three-hundred and twenty-five million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete… in raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country, we will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do.
That small moment at that rally and these words he wrote to America give a glimpse of John McCain’s life message. Although a self-acknowledged flawed individual who made mistakes, he realized that it was a privilege for him to serve both in uniform and in public office. For that, he considered himself to be the luckiest person on earth.
Godspeed to you as you continue your journey, John McCain.
Peace and Blessings,