by Tirzah Walker, correspondent
On Jan. 3, 1987, John Sidney McCain took office as U.S. Senator of Arizona. On Aug. 25, 2018, John Sidney McCain left that seat vacant after his death at the age of 81.
Most Americans do not know McCain for his 30 years as a senator; rather, he is known for his presidential runs. He ran for presidential office twice, once when President George W. Bush was re-elected, and again when President Barack Obama was elected in 2008.
Both President Bush and President Obama delivered eulogies at McCain’s funeral.
For Jakob Wilcoxson, sophomore communications major and Arizona native, McCain was something more than a presidential candidate.
“John McCain was a hero to me, my home state, and to the entire country,” he said. “He actively laid down his life in Vietnam and faithfully served Arizona for a little over thirty years. When I was in elementary school, our class took a trip to the Arizona State Capitol building in Phoenix. McCain was there. I remember him being larger than life, but so personable to us as kids. That experience solidified him, in my mind, as one of my role models.”
McCain served during the Vietnam War and became a prisoner of war; he was tortured and left for dead.
Many media outlets, such as the Washington Post and CNN, have been focused on President Trump’s absence from the funeral. He was not invited and has received criticism for going golfing.
Ivanka Trump and her husband were welcomed, however, by McCain’s family. Meghan McCain, Senator McCain’s daughter, mentioned the famous Trump tagline in her eulogy.
Wilcoxson also found McCain’s Christianity inspiring.
“John McCain should be remembered, above all things, for his dedicated fight for Christ’s Kingdom,” he said. “He fought for the lives of millions in Vietnam and he fought for millions in the political arena. And though he will be mourned, I rest in the knowledge that John is now serving the Father in his Heavenly Kingdom.”
This fight for the oppressed was described by Bush as a commitment McCain felt, “in his bones,” and “a tribute to his moral compass that dissidents and prisoners in so many places—from Russia, to North Korea, to China—knew that he was on their side. And I think their respect meant more to him than any medals and honors life could bring.”
McCain had a few words he wanted to leave in a final letter to “my fellow Americans” and “Especially my fellow Arizonans.” He expressed his gratitude in being an American leader, according to the heritage of the founding principles of the nation:
“To be connected to America’s causes—liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people—brings happiness more sublime than life’s fleeting pleasures. Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves.
“’Fellow Americans’—that association has meant more to me than any other. I lived and died a proud American. We are citizens of the world’s greatest republic, a nation of ideals, not blood and soil. We are blessed and are a blessing to humanity when we uphold and advance those ideals at home and in the world. We have helped liberate more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history.”
McCain closes his final letter to America with a blessing: “Farewell, fellow Americans. God bless you, and God bless America.”