John McCain: A Life of Service, A Life of Integrity

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John McCain: A Life of Service, A Life of Integrity

Zach Foss, Senior Editor and Cartoonist

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A man of great strength, perseverance and honor: a service member. A man of great morals, high expectations and patriotic love for his country: a politician. A man of great heart, breathtaking verbal eloquence and a familiar presence: a father. A man of great respect, high regard and strong integrity: an American hero. For many reasons John McCain is revered as a true American patriot. He was a veteran who went above the call of duty and kept the face of his cherished country through the ordeals of tortuous captivity. While dealing with lifelong injuries he chose to continue his service with his patriotic optimism on the floor of the United States Senate for the rest of his life. He came from a proud family with strong morals. He led life in accordance to those morals and he was a beacon of unmatched integrity through the dirtiness of American politics. He apologized when he was wrong, like he did during the 2000 presidential election when he did not call for the removal of the Confederate flag from the Statehouse in South Carolina, and he learned from his mistakes. I believe John McCain is a symbol of what America is, was and will be and he was a true American.

John McCain will forever be admired as a loyal serviceman to this nation’s military. He served bravely through the Vietnam War and endured five and a half years of cruel captivity. His military service was never a talking point of pity, but rather one of pride and service to his country. His military serving continued a family legacy that spanned three generations. He took his personal encounters in the military and turned them into a life of continued service. Out of the ashes of captivity came a man changed, much like a phoenix. Instead of being a broken man subjected to a life of physical struggles he chose to rise above that torturous life and soar into a lifetime of service for his nation which he loved. John McCain never abandoned his roots in the military and, according to Hillary Clinton, “Seeing John with soldiers was really seeing him in his element. They knew his story, they respected him [and] he felt very protective of them.”

Perhaps John McCain’s biggest achievements for America are his gains in the United States Senate. He stood as a Republican, yet he reached across the aisle when he believed his colleagues were right because he saw them as people and fellow patriots fighting for the same cause. Through eulogies at his funeral procession, present speakers including Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Joe Biden told stories of a proud man that always held onto his beliefs while always respecting those he disagreed with. They spoke of his enthusiastically robust and blatantly blunt attitude. He was considered to be a man of morals, a man of integrity and a man of America. He earned a reputation for serving his fellow Americans rather than for his particular party. One example was when he flipped Republicans the bird, figuratively of course, and voted down the GOP effort to repeal Obamacare. He heard the last-minute pleas of partisan allies, the Vice President and even went across the aisle to entertain some Democrats. He heard the pleas of politicians all working for the same country, but McCain would not bow to partisan politics. He listened to what his gut said and did what he thought was right. This is the politician he was. He was the “Maverick” of his party and he didn’t owe anyone squat. The people he served were his fellow Americans and he was respected for his independent mind.

In his mind, John McCain’s greatest personal achievement was being a father. He was a family man and he treasured the life that he had with them. In Meghan McCain’s eulogy, one could hear the loss she felt with the void her father left:

“Dad, I love you, I always have. All that I am, all that I hope, all that I dream is grounded in what you taught me. You loved me and you showed me what love must be. An ancient Greek historian wrote “The image of great men is woven into the stuff of other men’s lives.” Dad, your greatness is woven into my life, it is woven into my mother’s life, into my sister’s life, and it is woven into my brothers’ lives. It is woven into the life and liberty of the country you sacrificed so much to defend”


That immense void is something only a family can feel, yet John McCain was in the home of many American, by way of television and news, for the better part of his life. His family will bleed the emotions of his loss at home. As for us as a nation, we will mourn the loss of a familiar voice from the contentious profession that is politics.

He was a man that had the look of grandfather, but the bite of a warrior. He was the man you’d want on your side and the enemy you did not want to see. Many believed he fought for them on the battlefield and saw him as someone who fought for their interests on the political battlefield. He cared about substance, not personal attacks. And in a fatherly way he would request apologies that he thought were needed. He also would give apologies when he believed he was in the wrong. He was the role model most men strive to be. He was a father to his family and he also embodied the family man that many in this country crave.

Being a veteran, politician, civil servant and father, John McCain lived a life that seem to  embody many of the ideals of Americanism. He had risen up from the ashes of captivity without losing his spirit of optimism and hope. He was a man of incredible morals, integrity and grit. He held the ideals of our 242 years of history as a nation. He held the hope of the founders for the true potential of this great American experiment. He had the adventurous spirit of the pioneers that went into the unknown under the understanding that their plights would benefit our posterity. He had the fighting spirit of our nation’s greatest generation, fighting in the most devastating war in history solely to preserve ideals many had believed in. He had the spirit that embodied the youth because his spark of optimism never faded. John McCain led a life of unhindered patriotism. As he fades from this life to go to the next he leaves behind a tremendous legacy that will be looked upon as to what much of America stands for. John McCain personifies and will always symbolize what America is, was and will continue to be. “Americans Never Quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We Make History” (2008 Concession Speech) this is the blueprint America is, this is the life John McCain led.


  1. “Meghan McCain’s Eulogy for Her Father John McCain – Full Transcript ….” 1 Sep. 2018, Accessed 13 Sep. 2018.