Famous U.S. Senator John McCain died Saturday at age 81 after a battle with brain cancer that robbed America of a revered statesman, proud patriot, and self-sacrificing warrior, his daughter, Meghan McCain, said in a statement.
Shortly after McCain’s death was announced, President Donald Trump tweeted his condolences, saying: “My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!”
Best known for having survived as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam and winning the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, John Sidney McCain remained an ardent and unapologetic believer in American exceptionalism.
“We are blessed. We are living in the land of the free, the land where anything is possible,” McCain said in October, months after his cancer diagnosis, at the National Constitution Center, where he received the Liberty Medal. “We are blessed, and we have been a blessing to humanity in turn.”
In the same speech, he also warned of the perils he saw in the era of President Donald Trump.
“To refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain the last best hope of earth for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems, is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history,” the senator said.
“John McCain represented public service,” American University political historian Allan Lichtman said. “He was a genuine American hero, not a phony, hyped-up media hero.”
The son of a U.S. admiral, McCain became a Navy aviator and flew bombing missions during the Vietnam War. Shot down and captured by the North Vietnamese in 1967, he endured more than five years of torture and depravation as a prisoner of war.
Decades later, as a Republican senator, McCain would return to Vietnam and champion the restoration of ties between Washington and Hanoi and, as he told VOA, leave the past behind.
•Adapted from a VOA report.