In the most divisive time in history, two complete opposites will give eulogies at his funeral. That says something.

Alex Whitcomb
Aug 26, 2018 · 3 min read
US Senator John McCain served the country he loved with honor and respect, but he continues to serve now. Even after his death.

When the history books write about John McCain, they will be documenting one of the most fascinating figures of American life. A former prisoner of war—with two failed bids for president—who gained respect on both sides of the aisle, he is the antithesis of 2018, and 2018 was when we needed him most.

For me, John McCain is best summed up by this video, where a woman calls Barack Obama—McCain’s competition for president at the time—an Arab that she doesn’t trust.

We talk about 2018 like this kind of volatility and hate has never been here before, but it has. Respected, moral politicians like John McCain just tempered it. They protected us from it. They taught us how to temper it ourselves. He competed, voraciously, but he never crossed the line.

He understood—in the way only a former prisoner of war truly can—that we’re all on the same team.

He signed many bills I didn’t agree with. I was vocal about how I felt when he didn’t stand up for healthcare in the way I thought he should. But he constantly reminded us what politics are supposed to be about: people on the same team, with the same problems, debating about how to get to the same solution. He wasn’t shouting or slinging insults, he wasn’t disrespectful. This is a man who was willing to go to war prison for his fellow countrymen, he wasn’t about to call them losers.

But this particularly struck me. John McCain requested that George Bush and Barack Obama deliver eulogies at his funeral. About the only thing those two men have in common is that they both beat him for the presidency. There are two things that really stand out to me about this.

  1. The difference between these two men shows the gamut McCain was able to cover, more than almost any politician in our lifetimes. Things may be as divisive ever—making McCain stand out more than ever—but he has always stood out in party politics. There isn’t another politician walking the earth right now that would have these two men in the same room delivering their eulogies. It says something.
  2. John taught the rest of us—who haven’t had to literally sit in prison for our country—what it means to live your life with a love of your country, but also a love of your countrymen. He didn’t call the media fake, he didn’t call other candidates losers. Why? Because they were all Americans. They were who he suffered for. And now, even when his life is over, he continues to teach that lesson. Bringing parties together, putting integrity, loyalty, and love over all things. Even his funeral will carry the banner of bipartisanship, camaraderie, and respect.

John McCain is one of the few politicians I loved even though I didn’t agree with him on so many things. He made it that way. By the way he lived, by the way he debated, he defined respect in Washington. There wasn’t a man like him before him, and there won’t be after. But his life, and his legacy, can continue to show us the way in the way only he can. We may have lost the life of Senator John McCain, but his mark on America is etched in its history forever. All John McCain ever wanted was to be known for serving his country, and for that we say mission accomplished. Thank you, John.

Now the burden is on us. John showed us how to be Americans, it’s time for us to show him what we’ve learned.

This piece is the personal opinion of the writer, and doesn’t reflect the opinions of WIRED or any former employers.

Alex Whitcomb

Written by

Journalist, writer, bud. Vermont heart, San Francisco brain. Twitter: @AlexWhitcomb

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade