The Trailblazer

Senator John McCain Loses His Battle Against Cancer

Matthew Wikfors

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John McCain was known as many things.  He was a naval pilot, a prisoner of the Vietnam War, a presidential candidate (twice), and an outspoken conservative who worked on bipartisanship.  He was also a cancer patient since 2017 and ultimately lost his battle. He passed away on August 25 in his Arizona home at age 81.

“His ferocious tenacity for his country was unmatched. America has lost one of its greatest patriots, said Jeff Sessions, the current Attorney General and someone McCain had served with on the Senate for over two decades.

Throughout his lifetime, McCain’s patriotism shone both in the Senate and outside of politics.  During the Vietnam War, he was shot down in Hanoi and remained in captivity for five and a half years.  Even after he was offered early release, McCain refused the offer to keep his honor and to avoid enemy propaganda.  Once he was finally released, he returned home battered and broken, but his courage made him a hero, ultimately earning him a Prisoner of War Medal and two Purple Hearts for his service.

Within the ranks of the Senate, McCain was a champion among the Republican party and a well-known political figure on both sides.  Although he lost the presidential election twice, he held a great amount of influence and met with Obama multiple times during his presidency, fashioning deals like immigration reform.  

“Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did,” former President Barack Obama said.   “But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own.”

Even after McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2017 and withdrew from the Senate to receive treatment, he still placed the state of the nation over his own health.  Throughout the past year, McCain was an outspoken critic of Trump for his actions, going so far as to say that the meeting with Russia was “”one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory”.  McCain even walked into the Senate during the vote on the Affordable Care Act last September to deliver a thumbs down and cast the vote that put a temporary halt to the Affordable Care Act.

“America will miss John McCain. The world will miss John McCain. And I will miss him dearly,” said Joe Biden.

During the last few months of his life, McCain reflected on his life and what he has accomplished.  He even planned his own funeral, inviting the Bushes and the Obamas, but refusing to invite Trump. His memoir, which was published in May, said that he had no complaints about dying, but hated to leave the world.

I’ve known great passions, seen amazing wonders, fought in a war, and helped make peace.  I’ve lived very well and I’ve been deprived of all comforts. I’ve been as lonely as a person can be and I’ve enjoyed the company of heroes,” McCain wrote in the memoir.

On Wednesday,the day McCain would have turned eighty-two, his body was taken to the Arizona Capitol to honor him in the state he represented in the Senate.  On Thursday, he will be brought to Washington and honored in the Capitol on Friday. His funeral ceremony will be held in the National Cathedral in Washington on Saturday.  His body will be subsequently laid to rest in Annapolis, Maryland.

“I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times,” McCain said about the ultimate conclusion he came to about the impact of his life.

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