Senator John McCain Remembered for Courage, Service, Patriotism

U.S. Senator John McCain is being remembered for his courage, patriotism and service to his country.

McCain died Saturday at age 81 after a battle with brain cancer.

President Donald Trump tweeted, “My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!”

His campaign later issued a statement offering condolences and “urging all Americans to take the opportunity to remember Senator McCain and his family in their prayers on this sad occasion.”

The White House lowered the flag to half-staff in honor of McCain.

Leaders from around the world paid tribute to McCain . German Chancellor Angela Merkel called McCain “a tireless fighter for a strong trans-Atlantic alliance; his significance went well beyond his own country.” French President Emmanuel Macron called McCain “a true American hero.”

Vice President Mike Pence tweeted, “Karen and I are praying for Senator John McCain, Cindy and their family this weekend. May God bless them all during this difficult time.”

​Former presidents

Former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama issued a statement sending their “heartfelt condolences” to McCain’s wife, Cindy and their family.

Obama, who ran against the Republican senator in the 2008 presidential election and won, noted how despite their different generations, backgrounds and politics, “we saw this country as a place where anything is possible.”

Former President Bill Clinton and former Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton, who served with McCain in the U.S. Senate, said in a statement that he “frequently put partisanship aside to do what he thought was best for the country and was never afraid to break the mold if it was the right thing to do.”

Former President George W. Bush called McCain a friend he will “deeply miss.”

“Some lives are so vivid, it’s difficult to imagine them ended,” Bush said in a statement. “Some voices are so vibrant, it’s hard to think of them stilled.”

As he planned for the end of his life, McCain had requested Obama and Bush deliver eulogies at his funeral.

McCain’s body will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington as well in the capital of his home state, Phoenix.  A full dress funeral is planned at the Washington National Cathedral and his burial will be in Annapolis, Maryland, where he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy.

Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, called McCain “a patriot of the highest order, a public servant of rarest courage.”

“Few sacrificed more for, or contributed more to, the welfare of his fellow citizens — and indeed freedom-loving peoples around the world,” the elder Bush said in a statement.​

Former President Jimmy Carter called McCain “a man of honor, a true patriot in the best sense of the word.”

​Military career

The son of a U.S. admiral, McCain became a Navy aviator and flew bombing missions during the Vietnam War. Shot down and captured by the North Vietnamese in 1967, he endured more than five years of torture and depravation as a prisoner of war.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Vietnam POW “showed us that boundless patriotism and self-sacrifice are not outdated concepts or cliches, but the building blocks of an extraordinary life.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan said the McCain’s death marks a “sad day for the United States,” which has lost a “decorated war hero and statesman.”

“John put principle before politics. He put country before self,” Ryan said. “He was one of the most courageous men of the century.”

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said the “nation is in tears” and noted McCain’s “deep patriotism, outstanding bravery and undaunted spirit.”

“He never forgot the great duty he felt to care for our nation’s heroes, dedicating his spirit and energy to ensuring that no man or woman in uniform was left behind on the battlefield or once they returned home,” Pelosi said in a statement.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who served with the senator in Congress and is a fellow Vietnam War veteran, noted their differing views of the war and recalled a trip back to Hanoi with McCain, where the two “found common ground.”

“If you ever needed to take the measure of John McCain, just count the days and years he spent in that tiny dank place and ask yourself whether you could make it there an hour,” Kerry said in a statement. “John always said ‘a fight not joined is a fight not enjoyed.’ He loved to debate and disagree. But one thing John always believed was that at some point, America’s got to come together.”

McCain’s death Saturday also drew condolences from foreign leaders, with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani calling the U.S. lawmaker a great friend of the South Asian country.

“We will remember his dedication and support towards rebuilding AFG,” Ghani tweeted.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also offered condolences.

“People of India join me in sincerely condoling the loss of a steadfast friend,” Modi tweeted. “His statesmanship, courage, conviction and understanding of global affairs will be missed.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called McCain “an American patriot and hero whose sacrifices for his country, and lifetime of public service, were an inspiration to millions.”

​VOA’s White House correspondent Steve Herman contributed to this report.

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