In the years since then he has gone on with his life, sometimes in admirable ways and other times in not so admirable ways. Both the good and the bad have been chronicled.
However-- if I were a political columnist I am sure I would not subject myself to the vilification for saying this--I am not impressed with McCain’s subtle and not so subtle references to the ordeal he experienced as a POW. The oft repeated phrase …”and I have the scars to prove it” accompanied by his trade mark self-congratulatory smile, irritate me.
I want to yell at him “You can’t keep trading on that. Yes, you survived something terrible that many of us wouldn’t survive, but it wasn’t a heroic act." ...Let me clarify that I believe there is a difference between "hero" and "heroic act."
An heroic act is the deliberate action of aiding someone else while knowingly putting yourself in harm’s way. It is the fireman who enters a burning building; it is the soldier who falls on a grenade to ransom his comrades; it is the mother who falls under the wheel as she pushes her child to safety. It is a deliberate, although maybe reflexive, action. It is not an after the fact behavior.
I do believe that all of our nation's men and women in the armed forces are heroes in the sense that they serve to protect us. The most unrecognized heroes are the veterans who have no legs, no arms, who suffer from PTS, the ones who are never able to lead whole lives and who are ignored or occasionally receive generic recognition by people such as McCain who give tribute in speeches. These are people who are not welcomed back as heroes but are quietly shuffled to anonymity.
Barry Goldwater was different—not that I agree with him or would have voted for him—but he cared and was proactive in the lives of men and women at war. I remember when my in-laws one night answered the phone to find their son on the line, patched through by ham radio operator, Barry Goldwater from
A hero does not speak of heroism--unless it belongs to someone else.
So, John, I remember when you walked down the steps of that plane and came home. I remember the celebration and the awe of the Nation. But....that does not qualify you to be president of our country and should not have a place in what is to be evaluated as we select our next leader.
Your renowned temper, your erratic behaviors, your exchange of principle for ambition, your foisting on this country someone who is grossly unqualified to lead are not the actions of a hero. They are a mirror on desperation. Your scars do not compensate for wisdom and judgment no matter how often you tell us you have them.
My fervent prayer is that racism and scare tactics do not defeat the man who can lead this country to new heights and hope.