Timely Reminders from John McCain

Photo: The Libertarian Republic

Photo: The Libertarian Republic

Lawrence Jia, International/National News Editor

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It has been a few months since Senator John McCain passed away after serving decades in public service. Although we, including I, may not agree with all his politics, it may be a good time to reflect upon his model of leadership and principle. A shining example of ol’ fashioned American politics, Senator McCain served as my personal example of how politicians should act. From his Navy pedigree as a son and grandson of four-star admirals in Washington, McCain was truly an all-American man with love of country and often abrasive integrity. His mark on American history is characterized by unbashful service and wise decision-making, although not always right. McCain’s personal grit and heart makes him a valuable example for kids like us because it shows us how to overcome the real obstacles we face as students, engaged citizens, or even just ordinary people.

McCain, a Navy brat, attended more than twenty schools and enrolled in the United States Naval Academy, following his father and grandfather. During the Vietnam War, McCain was a naval aviator shot down flying A-4 Skyhawks in bombing missions over Southeast Asia. Parachuting into a lake, McCain was captured by the Vietnamese and taken as a prisoner of war, where he was tortured at the “Hanoi Hilton” prison camp. McCain was offered release by the Vietnamese due to his father’s rank of admiral, but McCain refused to leave without the rest of his men. The violent experience in Vietnam left McCain unable to raise his arms above his shoulders for the rest of his life. John McCain is a man of outstanding bravery and righteousness. His sense of responsibility to his fellow soldiers in such a painful time exemplifies the commitment and honesty needed in today’s political atmosphere.

Back home again, McCain took an interest in current events and politics. He successfully won in a highly contested House Republican primary and eventually joined the United States Senate in 1987. During his tenure in American politics, McCain became known as a conservative “maverick” who was willing to stand up against his political party and vote across party lines. He held true conviction in what he believed and risked his political reputation to pursue it. McCain’s work in campaign finance reform, culminating in the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002, and advancements in foreign relations while overseeing the Armed Services Committee are examples in McCain’s dominant political career. True, he never climbed the highest political mountain to the presidency, yet he achieved greatness and an honorable legacy only surpassed by few.

More recently, McCain has been a harsh critic of President Donald Trump, sparring on Twitter saying, “The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naivete, egotism, false equivalence and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate.” Senator John McCain stood up for what he believed was right and held true to himself. As students, we should all strive to emulate those precepts: to always tell the truth, never compromise your principles, and to persevere through the toughest times, no matter how trying the circumstances. These are the fundamental principles that defined my favorite American generation. Whether we are simply trying to make it past Mrs. Reed’s next calculus exam or attempting to navigate this complex world, even kids like us can take a page out of John McCain’s book to understand  how true leaders act.

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