Arizona Senator John McCain died from a year-long battle with an aggressive form of brain cancer on Saturday, Aug. 25. The memory of the one-time presidential candidate was honored by President Barack Obama on Saturday. Barack Obama's message after John McCain's death praised the senator's courage.
You'll recall that Obama and McCain battled it out on the 2008 campaign trail, as Obama was the Democratic presidential candidate and McCain won the Republican nomination. In a lengthy statement shared to both Facebook and Twitter, Obama remembered the senator — who spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam — with kind words and admiration for McCain's courage. The first part of Obama's statement on the passing of the McCain and the respect for his 60 years of civil service read,
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.
While McCain and Obama differed on politics in areas like healthcare, McCain was well-known for reaching across the aisle to work with his Democratic counterparts in Congress. Even though McCain didn't initially vote to pass the Affordable Care Act in 2010, his vote against replacing the ACA in July 2017 was a dramatic action against President Donald Trump's plans to repeal Obamacare.
It wasn't only McCain's actions in Congress that garnered respect from his peers, but McCain had previously demonstrated great strength when he was taken as a prisoner of war for five years in Vietnam, after his plane was shot down in October 1967, per Time. Speaking to that, Obama's statement continued,
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.
Obama even praised McCain for being a perfect example of courage, when Obama said, "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." While most people recognize the late senator as a war hero, President Trump famously knocked McCain for his time as a prisoner of war.
During a July 2015 rally, Trump said of McCain, "He's not a war hero," per Business Insider. "He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured," Trump continued. Obama's message on Saturday, on the other hand, recognized McCain for his strength and courage, and he cited McCain as someone who had "a fidelity to something higher – the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed."
McCain's "farewell statement'" in his book The Restless Wave seemed to mirror Obama's statement, per Politico. It read,
I’d like to see our politics begin to return to the purposes and practices that distinguish our history from the history of other nations. I would like to see us recover our sense that we are more alike than different ... I want to urge Americans, for as long as I can, to remember that this shared devotion to human rights is our truest heritage and our most important loyalty.
In the wake of McCain's passing, messages like Obama's — and even McCain's own words — serve to help the memory of the "maverick" senator live on.