John McCain: An American Hero

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John McCain: An American Hero

Erick Bojorquez, Advoctate Writer

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John McCain was a true American hero and a Vietnam war veteran. On Aug. 25 at 4:28 p.m. McCain died due to a malignant brain tumor at the age of 81. He will be remembered as a war hero, politician, and Congressman.

McCain served as a naval aviator during the Vietnam war, where his plane was shot down over Hanoi on Oct. 26, 1967. He suffered from a broken leg and two broken arms. The Vietnamese soldiers then captured and took him to Hao Loa Prison where he was subjected to extreme torture. The Vietnamese quickly learned that his father was a high ranking military official and attempted to use McCain in their propaganda. The idea was to make the U.S look biased and class-based by releasing McCain, the son of an admiral, early. It would have also served as a way to demoralize other prisoners of war (POWs), by telling them that their lives were worthless in comparison to that of an admiral’s son. McCain, however, refused to leave early. This infuriated his captors, and they subjected him to further horrible torture as punishment. He was sentenced to Solitary Confinement for three and a half years and was constantly and brutally beaten. His weight dropped by 105 pounds, and he even attempted suicide twice. His captors offered him early release many times, but, in an attempt to spare his honor and to not demoralize his fellow prisoners, McCain continuously refused their offers. The torture proved to be too much for even him to handle, however, and he was forced to sign a confession, although not a single person believed it. Yet he felt as though he had betrayed the country he so loved, and he continued to carry that guilt with him for the rest of his life.

McCain remained a POW for five and a half years until he was finally released with his fellow American POW’s on March 14, 1973. His release came less than two months after the Vietnam ceasefire was put into effect. McCain returned to America as a war hero. A man who, many believed, embodied true American courage. Because of this courage, he was honored as a patriotic role model and given numerous awards including the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Heart, Silver Star, and Purple Heart.

Yet although McCain was an honored hero, he also returned a broken man. Due to the torture, he suffered from both physical and mental injuries. His injuries caused him to lose most of his physical strength and flexibility, forcing him to spend nine months in rehabilitation. He even needed someone to comb his hair because he could no longer lift his arms above his head. Yet his spirit was not crushed by this, and he attempted to return to service as a naval aviator soon after. However, his injuries quickly proved that his abilities were permanently impaired, and it quickly became clear to McCain that it was not possible for him to advance in the Navy.

And so, inspired by his mother, McCain decided to become a politician. He was first introduced to politics in the Navy where he was appointed as the Navy’s liaison to the U.S Senate in 1976. He soon quit the Navy and moved to Phoenix, AZ were he quickly established political connections. On November 2, 1982 John McCain was elected to the U.S House of Representatives. He was later re-elected in 1984, thus claiming his seat for two terms. He then went on to serve six terms in the Senate. Although he was conservative, he often  voted against policies that his own conservative party was attempting to pass, and he even compromised with Democrats. This earned him a reputation as a maverick.

McCain ran against George W. Bush for the Republican presidential nomination in the 2000 election. Unfortunately, McCain lost the primary election, but he went on to be a big supporter of George W. Bush. With the help of Bush, McCain ran for president and won the Republican nomination, but he ultimately lost the Election to Barack Obama.

McCain lived the life of an American hero who fought for the people. Although he has passed away, he will live on in our memory of him. And so, he shall be remembered for his numerous feats. He shall be remembered for his time in U.S Navy, and, most importantly of all, he shall be remembered as an American who demanded respect and recognition.