John McCain Prisoner of War

John McCain waiting for the rest of the group to leave the bus at the airport after being released as a Prisoner of War.

Over two weeks after Election Day, Arizonahas been called by the New York Times for President-elect Joe Biden. It is the first time a Democratic presidential candidate has won the state since 1996 and there is one reason for this stunning victory: John McCain. 

If you know me well, or if you’ve ever talked to me in passing, you probably know that McCain is my hero. 

McCain led a life worthy of admiration. Growing up in a military family and being the son of a highly distinguished Navy admiral, McCain’s future seemed to be sealed. Following in his father’s footsteps, McCain attended the U.S. Naval Academy. After his time at the academy, he was one of the many brave Americans that went on to fight in the Vietnam War. 

During his time in Vietnam he served as a successful fighter pilot. Unfortunately, his success in the war was short lived. On Oct. 26, 1967, McCain was shot down by the North Vietnamese over Hanoi lake. He was taken into custody and brought to the notorious Hoa Lò prison, or as the American prisoners called it, the Hanoi Hilton

“No American reached Hoa Lò in worse physical condition than McCain,” according to John G. Hubbell, a prisoner at the Hanoi Hilton when McCain arrived. For days, he refused to give any information to his captors despite their offering to give him life-saving medical care. McCain would spend the next five and a half years of his life in that prison. He finally returned to the States in 1973 after being released from Hanoi and retired from the Navy in 1981. Nonetheless, McCain’s service to his country was far from over. 

Following his retirement from the Navy, McCain moved to Arizona to begin his career in politics. He served two terms in the House of Representatives and would go on to serve in the Senate for three decades. To say he had a distinguished career in public service is an understatement. To this day, people on both sides of the aisle show admiration for him because of his service and character, including his dear friend and now President-elect Joe Biden.

Unfortunately, not every politician is like McCain. 

If you want to find Donald Trump’s polar opposite, look no further than McCain. McCain was a man who carried himself with dignity and respect, had an open relationship with the media and was always willing to work with the other side of the aisle.

One of McCain’s most famous moments occured when he was running for president in 2008. He was holding a town hall forum when a man said he was afraid of then Senator Barack Obama becoming president. McCain’s response was, “First of all, I want to be president of the United States and obviously I do not want Senator Obama to be. But I have to tell ya, I have to tell ya, he is a decent person and a person you do not have to be scared [of] as President of the United States.” The next question asked was even more noteworthy. A woman said, “I can’t trust Obama, I’ve read about him...he’s an Arab.” McCain respectfully shook his head and said two simple words: “No ma’am.” He went on to say “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.” Moments like these are what make McCain such a beloved American icon. 

 

Trump, however, was never a fan. He made many absurd, cruel attacks on McCain. One of his most notable remarks regarding McCain is when he said, “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” Even after McCain died from brain cancer, the attacks continued. These attacks are what made me, a proud Republican, despise Donald Trump. This election proved that many people in Arizona feel the same way.  

McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, endorsed Biden during his presidential bid. She is a Republican, but recognized that she could not support a man who had been so terrible to her husband. I am 100 percent confident that if McCain were alive today, he would endorse Biden just as his wife did. 

Cindy McCain’s campaign effort in Arizona is one of the reasons Arizona went blue this election cycle. That and Trump’s relentless attacks on the former Senator and American hero. McCain is often referred to as “Arizona’s son” because of his long, dedicated career in public service representing the state. Arizona, loud and clear, said “Don’t mess with our guy” and the results of this election prove that. 

 

If there ever was a clear example of poetic justice, this is it. One can’t help but think that McCain, a man of great integrity who millions love to this day, is smiling somewhere at the outcome of this election.

Sam Somogye is a political science senior and columnist for The Battalion. His column is typically published online every other Monday when not in the Thursday newspaper.

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