The man, the warrior, the politician, the statesman was, like all of us, an imperfect human. Yet he remained true to the idea that we are better when we work for a greater good -- something …
The man, the warrior, the politician, the statesman was, like all of us, an imperfect human. Yet he remained true to the idea that we are better when we work for a greater good -- something outside our own individual, often petty concerns. McCain, the senior senator from Arizona, even left behind a final message to the nation promoting that goal.
Should we pay heed to his words, his final message could be one of his greatest legacies. Read his words, discuss them and perhaps most importantly, think of ways to turn them into action. His farewell message is short and to the point -- McCain was famously blunt -- and concludes: "I've loved my life, all of it. I've had experiences, adventures, friendships, enough for 10 satisfying lives, and I am so thankful. Like most people, I have regrets. But I would not trade a day of my life in good or bad times for the best day of anybody else's.
"I owe this satisfaction to the love of my family. One man has never had a more loving wife or children he was prouder of than I am of mine. And I owe it to America to be connected to America's causes: Liberty, equal justice, and respect for the dignity of all people brings happiness more sublime than life's fleeting pleasures. Our identities and sense of worth were not circumscribed, but are enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves."
The goal of a life well-spent then, is not accruing wealth or celebrity, but rather in doing for others, serving causes beyond the personal.
Contrast that to the sideshow in the days after McCain's death from an aggressive form of brain cancer. Leading the circus, as is his custom since being elected president, was Donald Trump.
It was Trump (who avoided military service because of bone spurs) who said this in 2015 about former prisoner of war McCain: "He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured."
Then, after McCain's passing Saturday, the president issued an antiseptic, impersonal tweet, sending sympathy to the family but saying not one word about McCain's service both in the Navy and the Senate.
For a time, the usual presidential proclamation was not issued. White House flags were flown at half-staff as a sign of respect over the weekend but returned to standard height Monday.
Normal protocol upon the death of a senator is to keep flags flying at half-staff until interment. (This is custom, rather than federal code, which only calls for lowering the flags on the day of death and the following day.)
Only after universal outrage did the White House lower the flags again, finally issuing the standard proclamation after a day in which the pettiness of this president remained in full view for the world to see.
Arms crossed, his expression petulant, Donald Trump revealed himself. Again.
What a contrast in two men.
McCain reportedly has asked former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to deliver eulogies at his service.
Both men defeated McCain to reach the White House; Bush in the 2000 GOP primary and Obama in the 2008 presidential election.
Trump, on the other hand, was not gracious enough to honor McCain in death, except reluctantly.
The rest of the country has united in honoring a faithful public servant. We recognize a hero, flawed but true.
We remember McCain's service, we honor his sacrifice and we send our prayers and condolences to his bereft family.
And, yes, we look to the senators and politicians who remain and ask them to keep McCain in mind as they go about the business of governing this divided nation.
What would John do? Ask that, then try and do the same. Serve a cause greater than yourself.
If that becomes John McCain's legacy, the United States will be a better nation.
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