Republican Sen. John McCain died on Saturday at the age of 81. He served the United States for more than 60 years, first in the Navy and afterwards in Congress.
A statement from his office, given to the New York Times, indicates he passed at 4:28 p.m., following his decision to discontinue medial treatment for brain cancer. When the decision was announced, an official statement said: “Our family is immensely grateful for the support and kindness of all his caregivers over the last year, and for the continuing outpouring of concern and affection from John’s many friends and associates, and the many thousands of people who are keeping him in their prayers.”
McCain was born on August 29, 1936 at the the Coco Solo Naval Station in Panama. In 1954, he enrolled at the U.S. Naval Academy, graduating in 1958. McCain fought in the Vietnam War, where he was captured and kept prisoner in North Vietnam between 1967 and 1973.
After his release, he returned to the United States and retired from the Navy in 1981. The naval honors he received for his service include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
The Arizona Republican was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982 and after serving two terms, to the U.S. Senate in 1986. Through his career as a lawmaker, he was known as a “maverick” for being willing to disagree with the Republican party on the occasions he saw fit. He ran for president in 1999 and again during the 2008 presidential election, when he successfully earned the Republican nomination. However, he lost in the general election to President Barack Obama.
McCain’s long career has left an indelible mark in the country, but he truly soldiered on in the last 18 months. He has repeatedly criticized President Donald Trump for his close relationship to Russian President Vladimir Putin and helped stop the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
McCain was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain cancer, last summer. Despite his illness and the intense treatment to combat it, he returned to the Senate for some key votes in 2017. He didn’t return to vote in 2018, however. His family announced in late August that he was choosing to discontinue the treatment.
In his most recent memoir, The Restless Wave, McCain reflects on the words of Robert Jordan, the hero of the novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, and his final words: “The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for,” the character says to himself, “and I hate very much to leave it.”
In the memoir, McCain adds his own response: “And I do too. I hate to leave it. But I don’t have a complaint. Not one. It’s been quite a ride…I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times.”
McCain is survived by his mother Roberta McCain, his wife Cindy, and his seven children: Douglas, Andrew, Sidney, Meghan, John, James, and Bridget. May he rest in peace.
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