Senator John McCain

Senator John McCain

A final salute to US Senator John McCain, who died August 25 in Arizona at age 81 after a lifetime of service to his country.

The son and grandson of four-star US Navy admirals, McCain himself went on to serve as a naval aviator in the Vietnam War. He recounted the five and a half years he spent as a prisoner of war then, as well as his relationship with his father John S. "Jack" McCain Jr. and grandfather John S. "Slew" McCain Sr., in his 1999 book “Faith of My Fathers.”

“Glory belongs to the act of being constant to something greater than yourself, to a cause, to your principles,” McCain wrote of his grueling Hanoi Hilton imprisonment. “No misfortune, no injury, no humiliation can destroy it. This is the faith that my commanders affirmed, that my brothers-in-arms encouraged my allegiance to.

“It was my father and grandfather's faith. A filthy, broken man, all I had left of my dignity was the faith of my fathers. It was enough.”

A 1958 graduate of the US Naval Academy, McCain retired from the Navy as a captain in 1981, was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1982 and to the Senate in 1987. He was the Republican nominee for US President in 2008.

With Gary Sinise and Hank Greenberg, McCain received the American Spirit Award, the Museum’s highest honor, in June 2018. Meghan McCain, his daughter, accepted for her ailing father.

“This museum was built to honor the sacrifice of the millions of Americans who fought together to save the world from tyranny,” she said, before recognizing the service and sacrifice of members of her own generation fighting in the continuing post-September 11, 2001, wars across the world. “After such a long period of war small and large, it makes sense that Americans would naturally want to draw back from engagements that put the lives of their sons and daughters at risk. And we have seen what that has done to our domestic politics.

“Today, I want to say to you what I believe my father would say about this if he were here. It is a reminder of responsibility, and a message of hope.”

The National WWII Museum sends condolences to Senator McCain’s family and friends. Our gratitude and respect for his legacy survives him always.