In Memoriam

Political topics usually find no place here, but today is an exception. It has been more than 50 years since the death of a public figure has affected me as profoundly as the news last night of the passing of Senator John McCain. The fact that this loss, unlike the one we experienced in November 1963, was not unexpected does little to lessen its impact.

It occurred to me last night, while watching the news coverage, that John McCain was the one unwavering constant throughout my life of political awareness which began in the 1960s as a Democrat. When I heard of McCain’s capture and his subsequent story, I regarded him as a hero because his courage and honor transcended the tawdry politics of war. When in later decades my disillusionment with party partisanship moved me to become an Independent, I continued to regard McCain as an example of what a politician should be – but sadly, so rarely is. I respected him, and that’s something I can say about precious few politicians throughout the past half century.

As an unaffiliated voter I have cast ballots for Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and a few write-ins when I couldn’t in good conscience choose a “lesser of two evils.” The 2008 presidential election presented a huge quandary because I intended to vote for McCain… until he announced his choice of running mate. If the Senator were a younger man or without his existing health history I might have cast that vote anyway, but not with things as they were and who his VP choice was. In his new book The Restless Wave McCain revealed that his first and preferred choice for VP had been Joe Lieberman – a senator whose political affiliations have paralleled my own and whose selection I’d have happily supported.  Could that unlikely bipartisan duo have captured the White House? Perhaps not, but it is an experiment in unity that I hope someone else will adopt two years from now. It would be a fitting tribute to the spirit of ‘country over party’ that John McCain always exemplified. He will be sorely missed and, to paraphrase Hamlet, we shall not look upon his like again.


…. and, when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.

Romeo & Juliet, Act III, Scene II

  7 comments for “In Memoriam

  1. August 26, 2018 at 11:28 am

    I mostly disagreed with McCain and thought some of his decisions were ill-considered, but I never discounted is basic decency and consider him a true patriot and exemplary public servant.

  2. August 26, 2018 at 11:57 am

    This is so well-said–thank you for this.

    I should hope that no matter how we feel, all of us mourn the loss of this principled war hero. He truly was one of the last great men of that generation.


  3. Karyl Yelverton
    August 26, 2018 at 12:41 pm

    What a lovely tribute to this courageous man!

  4. Adine Gnekow
    August 26, 2018 at 10:13 pm

    Another great person who just died today is playwright Neil Simon, Broadway’s master of comedy. Who hasn’t heard of “The Odd Couple” and “Barefoot in the Park” …leaving laughter and warmth in ones heart?

    Death of both men affected me the same: loss of two great people who unselfishly gave their natural born talents to mankind. It leaves an empty spot in my heart knowing that these two men will never walk this earth again. How fortunate I feel having “known” both of them. Both men exemplified the positive things in life… with patriotism and the other with laughter. God bless them.

  5. August 27, 2018 at 9:03 am

    Beautifully said! I agree even to the running mate choice! Joe Lieberman is a true statesman and not many know about his incredible accomplishments, coming from the small state of CT. And who can match them in all their fine qualities? Our brightest minds steer away from politics…look what they must go through and what a mess we are in with two sides that cannot be civilized.

  6. August 29, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    ‘Country over party’ is why I have nothing but respect for the late senator. He was always true to his principles and conscience, something in short supply today.

  7. August 31, 2018 at 10:26 am

    A beautiful and honest tribute. I always found myself drawn to him because he truly was unlike other Republicans — as others have said, he was country before party. Like you, I drifted away from him when he chose his running mate and he seemed to be swayed by the changes in the GOP, but once again found his footing when he corrected misinformation at one of his town hall meetings — and how refreshing to have a ticket bridging both parties!!! His passing is a great loss to this country.

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