To paraphrase the lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II, written for the musical South Pacific, in a song titled, A Wonderful Guy, John McCain was a: “Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, (deep breath) wonderful, wonderful guy.”
He was a graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, became a Navy pilot, landing and taking off 23 times from an aircraft carrier, on tarmac the size of a postage stamp, sailing in the middle of the China Sea. The landing after the 23rd take off? Not so good.
The not so good made McCain an American legend and respected throughout the world. The motto was: First in, first out. That is: first captured, first released.
Discovering McCain was the son and grandson of Admirals of the United States Navy, he was offered his immediate release from the Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam.
Who doesn’t try to sneak ahead of someone else at the DMV, or at Safeway, or pass up a slow walker anywhere? Some even use bribes to pass their children into Ivy League schools. Some Ivy League schools accept the bribe, wink, wink. The children are then given degrees. Another wink, wink.
McCain said no to an early release. His story became a legend, making him an admired hero, respected and loved by like-minded people. His core had a compass that was permanently fixed on true north. To denigrate his heroism was an announcement confessing their ignorance.
This McCain guy was made of something better. This better is given to everyone in different quantities. Sometimes it is called upon, sometimes not. It isn’t simply an American virtue, but part of the human condition.
So goodbye to McCain the man, and hello to McCain the legend.
Alan Jay Lerner wrote lyrics about a place called Camelot: Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, that was known as Camelot.
For one brief shining moment, don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a giant, flying skies, and sailing seas, ignoring aches and pain, who was known as John McCain.
A wonderful guy!