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Sunday, August 26, 2018

STRONGER IN BROKEN PLACES

A college degree takes four years. 
If you go to law school, like many readers of this humble blog, that's another three years. 

Time has meaning. To endure difficult times can build character. To avoid challenges and conflict creates the absence of character. 
How many of us look back on our three years of law school as …."torture?" 

John McCain was tortured. He didn't have to get up early, listen to ponderous lectures, and study bleary-eyed late into the night. He was captured and beaten by an enemy nation. His arms were broken. He was hung by his arms and tortured for years and made to "confess" war crimes. He was kept in solitary confinement for two and half years-almost the amount of time it takes to finish law school. When offered a blessed early  release before his comrades because his admiral father was commander of a Navy Fleet- McCain refused:  the code was you were released in the order of your capture. 

McCain was the bravest politician of our generation. He remains the one man we did not vote for who deserved to be president. An accident of history placed McCain in the general presidential election against the transformational figure of our time. But isn't that what really makes America great? That we could produce a McCain- a war-hero and man of exceptional character and an Obama- a  brilliant and transformational leader and then pick from between them? How could we have gone wrong?

In these dark times when no politician on the visible horizon  has a scintilla of the character and courage and love of country that John McCain had, we are left to comfort ourselves that we live in a country that produced a John McCain. 

John McCain. A man who would fight for his country. A man who had flaws for sure, but who in the end-time and time again-did what was right- party or politics be dammed. Heroes inspire us. They give us courage in dark times to carry on. Heroes don't live for ever. But their memory does. We think of our heroes and their moments of courage- when they were beaten and tortured but kept their code of honor. When they voted their conscience for their country ignoring  political expediency and peril. 

So in these dark times we carry on, warmed by the idea that we live in a country that produced John McCain. Fighter pilot. POW. Congressman. Senator. Candidate for President. Hero. 


The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there
will be no special hurry.

A Farewell to Arms, Ernie Hemingway. 

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have never voted for a republican.

I have never felt more respect for a republican than I feel for John McCain.

He is a hero. I did not always agree with him but, I am sure glad he was a senator.

I am so glad he was an American.

RIP, John Mc Cain.

Anonymous said...

John McCain is the reason I registered republican when I was 20 - because I believed in him and wanted to vote for him in the 2000 primary. I stayed a registered republican until earlier this year (I could no longer stomach the slime leading the party, and am now an independent). America needs more like him.

Milt Hirsch said...

From my Constitutional Calendar for December 9:

On December 9, 2014, Sen. John McCain broke ranks with his party’s leadership to commend the release by the Senate Intelligence Committee of its report on the use of torture by the CIA in the “war on terror.” Himself a former prisoner of war and torture victim, McCain concluded his speech with these words:

But in the end, torture’s failure to serve its intended purpose isn’t the main reason to oppose its use. I have often said, and will always maintain, that this question isn’t about our enemies; it’s about us. It’s about who we were, who we are and who we aspire to be. It’s about how we represent ourselves to the world.
We have made our way in this often dangerous and cruel world, not by just strictly pursuing our geopolitical interests, but by exemplifying our political values, and influencing other nations to embrace them. When we fight to defend our security we fight also for an idea, not for a tribe or a twisted interpretation of an ancient religion or for a king, but for an idea that all men are endowed by the Creator with inalienable rights. How much safer the world would be if all nations believed the same. How much more dangerous it can become when we forget it ourselves even momentarily.
Our enemies act without conscience. We must not. This executive summary of the Committee’s report makes clear that acting without conscience isn’t necessary, it isn’t even helpful, in winning this strange and long war we’re fighting. We should be grateful to have that truth affirmed.
Now, let us reassert the contrary proposition: that is it essential to our success in this war that we ask those who fight it for us to remember at all times that they are defending a sacred ideal of how nations should be governed and conduct their relations with others – even our enemies.
Those of us who give them this duty are obliged by history, by our nation’s highest ideals and the many terrible sacrifices made to protect them, by our respect for human dignity to make clear we need not risk our national honor to prevail in this or any war. We need only remember in the worst of times, through the chaos and terror of war, when facing cruelty, suffering and loss, that we are always Americans, and different, stronger, and better than those who would destroy us.
Thank you.

Fair winds and following seas, John McCain.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post. Captures my feelings so eloquently. Thank you for honoring a man I so respect but did not vote for.

His concession speech to Obama still brings tears to my eyes. But I will forever love him for how unselfishly he answered his supporter at a town hall meeting who called Obama an "Arab". How easy it would have been to have said, "I dont know about that" and moved on. Instead he choose to not only deny it but tell her what a good and decent man Obama was although he did not always see eye to eye with him.

RIP Senator McCain. You are now immortal. History will honor you forever. I am privileged to have lived in your era and bear witness to your bravery, heartbreak and courage.

earl rogers said...

One of my favorite trivia facts about John McCain is that he is a distant relation of George Washington--I saw this on one of the genealogical shows. Hopefully, his passing is not symbolic for the passing of American democracy itself.

Anonymous said...

One can only hope and pray that some folks entering politics will understand the principles that the Lt. Commander held so dearly throughout his life. Semper Fi my Navy friend and true American hero. I go into battle with you. Our country is better because of you. Thanks
SAO5