John McCain: Not America’s first, last or Greatest Hero. Just the most important one.



This week many, not all, paid tribute to the live and times of John McCain.

In a nation of 325 million Americans it is clear that no consensus exists as to the importance of the life, and loss, of John McCain.

In a life lived in conflict, John McCain’s very funeral wasn’t exempt from the contentious and restless nature of a man who was felled, at 81, of cancer.

John McCain had a long life.  One I have no doubt he wished would have been longer.  One, I am certain, those who loved him the most and the hardest wish was longer, as well.

Yet, in 81 years John McCain left few stones unturned.

John McCain, like America, was not perfect.

Like every human being he had flaws.

Flaws that those who find him lacking have been quick to highlight over the past week.

That he had flaws is not remarkable.

In spite of those flaws John McCain, with his body deep in the ground, his soul set free, forces us to face the fact that we are all equally flawed.

If, in doing so, we become a better America, that is what will make John McCain far more remarkable.

Today, we live in a time of Donald Trump’s stolen valor.

A man who has seemingly convinced millions of my fellow Americans that he is just like them.

That he is the anti-establishment.  That he is the voice of their hopes, dreams and aspirations.

No greater fiction has been put upon the American people than the false pretense that Donald Trump stands for something that nobody before him ever did.

A man who spent his entire life doing everything he could not to be a common man, or to be in the company of common men, is now claiming that only he represents the voice of the common man.

Ironically, John McCain was no common man, either.

Born into a life of privilege, John McCain died surrounded by a life of privilege.

Yet, what John McCain showed us is that being a Hero and an American is not measured by your wealth.

Nor is it proven by bragging about it.

What he showed us is that despite all the benefits of his ancestry and lineage he was willing to put his life before others in the service of his nation.

He, not Donald Trump, climbed into a plane to serve his nation.

He, not Donald Trump, spent 5 ½ years imprisoned, tortured beyond measure, and willingly gave up his chance for freedom so that others might have it before him.

He, not Donald Trump, spent the remainder of his life doing what he could to make the America he was willing to lay down his life for an America that fewer Americans would have to do so in the future.

John McCain, if we were all telling the truth, isn’t a better reflection of who we are Americans.

John McCain, if we were all telling the truth, is a better reflection of what we used to be as Americans.

A week of eulogies and tributes to John McCain are, to be sure, a collection of words by those who loved him, admired him, opposed him, but all who came to honor him.

For those who have decided they are either for or against the man in the White House who is our President the die has been cast.

If you are for him, you found the celebration of John McCain’s life to be attack on Donald Trump.

If you are against him, you found the celebration of  John McCain’s life to be an attack on Donald Trump.

It is my hope, perhaps a naïve hope, that John McCain did not seek to have his funeral to be remembered as a collection of words spoken to celebrate him.

Rather, he wanted it to be a symbol of what makes America great.

John McCain’s body was surrounded all week by men and women who have deeply divided political, policy and philosophical beliefs and loyalties.

With few exceptions there is nowhere else in the world in which the critics, opponents, enemies and antagonists of a political leader of a nation would gather to honor him and what he believed.

Yet, those same men and women surrounded him remain loyal to what it was McCain cared most about:  America.

Not its land.  Its wealth.  Or the privilege we have as being in the greatest nation the world has ever known.

It is a loyalty to the idea of America.

Sometimes you can’t put words to it.  Our Founders did, at our beginning, and those words sprang forth into an idea that is America.

Yet, nothing written since then has done more to advance the cause of the idea of American than the action of those who have lived and breathed those words, or whose last breath was given to defending them.

Those like John McCain.

In a world in which great men and women are in short supply the demand for them has never been greater.

John McCain’s passing deprives America of a Hero.

Not our first Hero, or our last, or perhaps, not even our greatest Hero.

But, for this time, and our future, perhaps our most important Hero.

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