September 3, 2018

Last Words from a Daughter and Her Father

In this week's Sunday School post, I shared some of my favorite excerpts from the many eulogies of Senator John McCain, and promised today I'd share more from two final sets of remarks - those of Meghan McCain on her father, and those of the late senator himself, in a message to America.

#PromisesKept, as they say. Here are some of Meghan's comments:
"The world is a fine place and worth fighting for, and I hate very much to leave it."
When Ernest Hemingway's Robert Jordan, at the close of For Whom the Bell Tolls lies wounded, waiting for his last fight, these are among his final thoughts. My father had every reason to think the world was an awful place. My father had every reason to think the world was not worth fighting for. My father had every reason to think the world was worth leaving.  He did not think any of those things. Like the hero of his favorite book, John McCain took the opposite view: You had to have a lot of luck to have had such a good life. 
I am here before you today saying the words I never wanted to say, giving the speech I have never wanted to give, feeling the loss I never wanted to feel. My father is gone. John Sidney McCain III was many things. He was a sailor, he was an aviator, he was a husband, he was a warrior; he was a prisoner, he was a hero, he was a Congressman, he was a Senator, he was a nominee for President of the United States. These are all of the titles and roles of a life that's been well lived. They're not the greatest of his titles, nor the most important of his roles. 
...the best of John McCain, the greatest of his titles and the most important of his roles was as a father. 
Imagine the warrior of the night skies gently carrying his little girl to bed. Imagine the dashing aviator who took his aircraft hurtling off pitching decks in the South China Sea, kissing the hurt when I fell and skinned my knee. Imagine the distinguished statesman who counseled presidents singing with his girl in Oak Creek during a rainstorm to Singing in the Train. Imagine the senator, fierce conscience of the nation's best self, taking his 14-year-old daughter out of school because he believed I would learn more about America at the town halls he held across the country. Imagine the loyal veteran with his eye shining with happiness as he gave blessing for his grown daughter's marriage. You have to imagine that. I don't have to, because I lived it all. I know who he was; I know what defined him. I got to see it every single day of my blessed life... John McCain was defined by love...
Dad, I love you, I always have. All that I am, all that I hope, all that I dream is grounded in what you taught me. You loved me and you showed me what love must be. An ancient Greek historian wrote, "The image of great men is woven into the stuff of other men's lives."  Dad, your greatness is woven into my life, it is woven into my mother's life, into my sister's life, and it is woven into my brothers' lives. It is woven in the the life and liberty of the country you sacrificed so much to defend...
And finally, from John McCain himself; the full contents of his letter can be found here.
...I have often observed that I am the luckiest person on earth.I feel that way even now as I prepare for the end of my life. I have loved my live, all of it. I have had experiences, adventure and friendships enough for ten satisfying lives and I am so thankful. Like most people, I have regrets. But I would not trade a day of my life, in good or bad times, for the best day of anyone else's.
I owe that satisfaction to the love of my family. No man ever had a more loving wife or children he was prouder of than I am of mine. And I owe it to America. To be connected to America's causes - liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people - brings happiness more sublime than life's fleeting pleasures. Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by servicing good causes bigger than ourselves...
We are three-hundred-twenty-five million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometime even vilify each other in our raucous public debates but we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country we will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do...
Do not despair 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.