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Remembering John McCain 

A wounded warrior comes home

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I watched you walk with difficulty down the aisle to the podium in the Senate chambers last year, your face, scarred by past and current surgeries, now confronting brain cancer. Formally recognized, you held up your arm, and with a fist and thumb, motioning downward, voted against the Republican attempt to amend the healthcare program, then quietly returned to your seat.

We have been at the opposite ends of the political spectrum for most of our lives: you, a naval aviator from a military family; I, an anti-war activist, with deep left-wing roots. But in that moment of truth, when you voiced your independence from your own party, a bond was forged between us, and many others across the political landscape.

People viewed you politically as a maverick, a rebel. I did not. I saw the wounded warrior who had come home—a humane, honest and compassionate person who had shed his armor and led not with sword, but with decency and heart. Your thoughts and feelings and actions that day spoke volumes to the basic belief that all Americans have regardless of party affiliation. Americans do not like being cheated and lied to; nor do they appreciate being ignored and kept in the dark on issues impacting their lives.

Make no mistake, Sen. McCain: Despite derisive comments about your past military status, you were and are a war hero. You nearly gave your life for our country some 50 years ago, serving our country in an increasingly unpopular war that took an exacting toll on your mind and body, whose scars, both visible and not, you carried with you.

It's abundantly clear when a human being faces his mortality, the ascension up the mountain summit grows steeper with every exhausting step; time and breath become more precious commodities to savor. But looking down, Senator, over the landscape of your life, will afford you a grand view.

E. G. Singer lives in Santa Rosa.

Open Mic is a weekly feature in the 'Bohemian.' We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write openmic@bohemian.com.

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