A true American hero

Michele Barnum, News Writer

Throughout history there have been many examples of true American heroes. They stand for what it means to be an American, defending and protecting the United States of America. Senator John McCain died at the age of 81 and will be remembered as a true American hero.

McCain was born at Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936. There he was raised with his military family leading him to join the United States Naval Academy. In 1960, he completed flight school and was assigned to the  A-1 Skyraider Squadrons in the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas.

Seven years later McCain was shot down, captured and taken as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. He was severely injured and was refused treatment, until the North Vietnamese discovered his father was an admiral. McCain was kept in a hospital where he was given insufficient care and then transferred to a cell with two other soldiers. Three months later, he was placed into solitary confinement where he stayed for two years.

The North Vietnamese offered McCain early release after his father was named commander of all United States forces in Vietnam. He did not accept this offer because he wanted to be released with his fellow soldiers. In August of 1968, McCain was subjected to severe torture, including being beaten every two hours, which led him to a failed suicide attempt. He was released five years later on March 14, 1973. The injuries he sustained during his captivity left him permanently disabled and unable to raise his arms above his head.

“He was a lot of trouble to them and he fought them tooth and nail,” fellow prisoner of war, Captain Render Clayton said.

He was tough and took a strong stance, yet he did not hold a grudge and helped contribute to the development of Vietnam-United States relations.

“John never took the easy path in life – and through sacrifice and suffering he inspired others to serve something greater than self,” former Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin said.

The memorial was held August 29 through August 30 in Washington D.C., where he was laid to rest in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Friday, August 31. The next day, his casket was brought to the Vietnam War Memorial, while a service was held at the Washington National Cathedral. Finally, on Sunday, September 2, he was buried at the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis.