The last time I cried when a politician died was, well, never.
I feel for Senator McCain’s family of course, but my true grief is for the American people who so sorely need his leadership now…as he has slipped away from us.
Today, in Berlin, I stood in front of the American embassy and saw our flag, my flag, the flag John fought for, served for and nearly died for, at half staff as his body lie in state in Washington. Being so far from home, in a foreign country, standing on land that had once been held behind a wall by the Communist Party, I openly wept.
The Brandenburg Gate, standing beside the American Embassy, divided Berlin into communist East and free West and stands as a historical reminder of the grimness of division. Bullet holes are still in evidence on the columns, standing in silent testimony to those who sought to escape to freedom – and failed.
The remnants of the Berlin Wall stand as silent witness to what humanity can never allow to happen again. How did humans ever hate this much? Ever sanction those atrocities?
As the graffiti on the wall asks WHY, I too wonder why, and how this atrocity ever came to pass. Why didn’t someone, many someones, step up and stop this train before it became an avalanche.
I was sorely reminded of why we so desperately need John’s vision to unite. To refuse to hate simply because villianization is easy.
He respected those with whom he had political divisions – as he did President Barack Obama when John was questioned on the campaign trail about then-candidate Obama’s religious affiliation. The easy answer and easy road was never the path John selected by default.
We need what John stood for. His dignity, his statesmanship, his honor and humanity. John McCain was a Maverick alright, standing tall when others failed to do so.
We need heroes to look up to.
We need hope that we as a nation, can heal. John gave us that.
I didn’t always agree with John.
I didn’t always disagree with John.
I always respected John.
A prisoner of war who was willing to lay his life down for America, every single day for many, many years, through unrelenting torture that surely seemed unbearable, through disfigurement, throughout every humiliation he endured.
For all Americans, of every color, faith, gender and every combination of all of those.
We are all diminished by John’s passing.
In John’s final statement that would become his legacy beyond the fact that he asked both Republican and Democratic former Presidents to provide eulogies at his funeral, he said this to the American people:
“Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.”
Now that John is gone, it’s up to all of us, personally, individually, to make it so.
Rest in Peace John McCain. You already saw Hell in Vietnam and deserve nothing less.
May each and every one of us carry your torch.
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