John McCain was a war hero who transcended political parties. One may not have always agreed with the man, but there was no denying that he was a true American hero. After 81 years on this earth, five of which were spent in a Vietnamese prison camp, Senator John McCain passed away yesterday, surrounded by loved ones and, as his wife Cindy put it, “on his own terms”.
Following his death, American presidents, past and present, began issuing statements depicting the man for who he really was, a hero, statesman and an incredibly talented politician.
His former opponent in the 2008 Presidential race, Barack Obama wrote:
”John McCain and I were members of different generations, came from completely different backgrounds, and competed at the highest level of politics. But we shared, for all our differences, a fidelity to something higher – the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed. We saw our political battles, even, as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those high ideals at home, and to advance them around the world. We saw this country as a place where anything is possible – and citizenship as our patriotic obligation to ensure it forever remains that way. Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did. But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own. At John’s best, he showed us what that means. And for that, we are all in his debt. Michelle and I send our most heartfelt condolences to Cindy and their family.”
Former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote:
“Senator John McCain believed that every citizen has a responsibility to make something of the freedoms given by our Constitution, and from his heroic service in the Navy to his 35 years in Congress, he lived by his creed every day. He was a skilled, tough politician, as well as a trusted colleague alongside whom Hillary was honored to serve in the Senate. 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. I will always be especially grateful for his leadership in our successful efforts to normalize relations with Vietnam. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Cindy, his mother, Roberta, his children, and his entire family.”
Former opponent in the 2000 Republican Primary, President George W. Bush wrote:
“Some lives are so vivid, it is difficult to imagine them ended. Some voices are so vibrant, it is hard to think of them stilled. John McCain was a man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order. He was a public servant in the finest traditions of our country. And to me, he was a friend whom I’ll deeply miss. Laura and I send our heartfelt sympathies to Cindy and the entire McCain family, and our thanks to God for the life of John McCain.”
Former President George H.W. Bush wrote:
“John McCain was 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. Another American maverick and warrior, General George Patton once observed: We should thank God that men such as these have lived.” To that I can only add my gratitude to John’s wife Cindy, his wonderful family, and the people of Arizona who permitted this great and good man to serve with such distinction in the world’s greatest deliberative body.”
Former President Jimmy Carter wrote:
“John McCain was a man of honor, a true patriot in the best sense of the word. Americans will be forever grateful for his heroic military service and for his steadfast integrity as a member of the United States Senate. Rosalynn and I extend our sincere condolences to Senator McCain’s family and to the people of Arizona whom he represented so forthrightly for so many years.”
Current President Donald J. Trump had the shortest and most generic of the sympathy messages. He wrote:
“My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!”