I respected Senator John McCain. I loved him as a war hero and a fellow American who served his country in an astounding way. Few people in our country will ever accomplish all that McCain accomplished in his life. He served his country in the military, suffered as a prisoner of war and became one of the most respected United States senators in our nation’s history.
He also came to my hometown of Inez, Kentucky when he was campaigning for president in 2008. I am told the one sight he wanted to see up the road in our town of Martin County was the house that President Lyndon B. Johnson visited in 1964. Johnson put our county on the map and one of our families as the “poster child” of American poverty. He and his entourage visited a family with the promise of lifting them and all poor American families out of poverty. The man he visited died about as poor as or poorer than he was the day Johnson visited him.
John McCain had a good heart to come to Martin County. He respected our poor county enough to consider that our votes were important enough to extend some effort and energy our way. I have to appreciate anyone who shows this kind of respect for average folks.
I’ve been to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. It’s a stately, regal place and a national treasure. The campus is unreal and to be buried in that special cemetery is only a place where our nation’s most honored and respected will ever be buried.
I’ve never heard of a prisoner of war that wanted to be caught and tortured. All POWs are caught as best as I know. Being a POW is not a vacation or anything pleasant that anybody would ever want to endure from everything I’ve ever heard or read about.
My wife’s grandfather was a POW in the Philippines. He suffered at the hands of the Japanese for four very long years. He was forced with 80,000 others to walk the 65 mile Bataan Death march and barely survived it. Thousands died on that walk. All in some way were horribly abused. His imprisonment was something he couldn’t emotionally talk about. When he finally got back home to the United States he weighed less than 90 pounds. When he got home he was met by his wife and two daughters – one who was not quite four years old that he had never seen before. He moved his family to Long Island where he worked construction for a long time. He never received any parades. He was never elected to public office nor did he ever run for office. He lived a quiet life, died of lung cancer at age 65 and was buried by his family and friends who celebrated his life but without any national attention. His name was Lyle Harlow. He was a prisoner of war. He was an American hero.
If you watched Senator McCain’s funeral I strongly suggest celebration and admiration of a great American. May the celebration of his life be symbolic of Lyle Harlow and thousands of other Americans who suffered as POWs. Many never made it back to America alive. Or, they made it home and gave their lives building buildings, cars, farming or raising good and decent American families.
Possibly, for a little while, all of us as Americans could just shut up and stop insulting and hurting each other. I realize in political rhetoric it’s all about the Limbo, how low can you go it seems. It’s not making us better in America.
We will forever hear the sound bite that came from the lips of Senator McCain about President Barack Obama when one naysayer of Obama was critical and McCain corrected her saying, “No Ma’am he’s a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign is all about.”
Surely, heaven and earth all applauded and were astounded that day by John McCain. May it be that kind of speech and behavior that wows us and charts the course of this nation.
Glenn Mollette is the author of 12 books. His column is read in 50 states.