John McCain was born on August 29, 1936, and first entered the public spotlight as a Navy fighter pilot during the Vietnam War. During the war, his plane was shot down, and McCain was taken as a prisoner of war. He would spend the next five and a half years suffering through torture and confinement, before finally being released in 1973. The wounds he suffered during that time would leave him with lifelong physical disabilities.
McCain retired from the Navy as a captain in 1981, eventually moving to Arizona and beginning a career in politics. In 1986, he began his tenure as the US Senator from Arizona.
While he was a Republican, McCain gained a reputation in the media as a “maverick”, known for his willingness to go against party lines on certain issues he felt strongly about. In July 2017, he was diagnosed with brain cancer, but continued to serve in the Senate in a reduced role. He passed away on August 25, 2018, at the age of 81.
Throughout his life of service, John McCain delivered many anecdotes of wit and wisdom.
Here Are 15 Memorable John McCain Quotes
On Being Courageous:
“We are taught to understand, correctly, that courage is not the absence of fear, but the capacity for action despite our fears.”
“Courage is the enforcing virtue, the one that makes possible all the other virtues common to exceptional leaders: honesty, integrity, confidence, compassion and humility.”
“Fear is the opportunity for courage, not proof of cowardice.”
On Being A Maverick:
“I disagree with what the majority of the American people want.”
“I don’t mind a good fight. For reasons known only to God, I’ve had quite a few tough ones in my life. But I learned an important lesson along the way: In the end, it matters less that you can fight. What you fight for is the real test.”
“I don’t work for myself. I work for you. I’ve fought corruption, and it didn’t matter if the culprits were Democrats or Republicans. They violated their public trust, and they had to be held accountable.”
“I spent five and a half years in prison. The worst part was coming home and finding out Green Acres had been cancelled. What the hell was I fighting for?”
“War is awful. Nothing, not the valor with which it is fought nor the nobility of the cause it serves, can glorify war. War is wretched beyond description, and only a fool or a fraud could sentimentalize its cruel reality. Whatever is won in war, it is loss the veteran remembers.”
“I hate war. It’s terrible beyond imagination.”
“Glory is not a conceit. It is not a decoration for valor. Glory belongs to the act of being constant to something greater than yourself, to a cause, to your principles, to the people on whom you rely and who rely on you in return.”
“No one of good character leaves behind a wasted life — whether they die in obscurity or renown.”
“Your character is what you are to yourself, not what you pretend to be to yourself or others.”
On Being American:
“Respect for the God-given dignity of every human being, no matter their race, ethnicity or other circumstances of their birth, is the essence of American patriotism. To believe otherwise is to oppose the very idea of America.”
“In this country, we believe everyone has something to contribute and deserves the opportunity to reach their God-given potential, from the boy whose descendents arrived on the Mayflower to the Latina daughter of migrant workers. We’re all God’s children, and we’re all Americans.”
“Despite our differences, much more unites us than divides us. We are fellow Americans, and that’s an association that means more to me than any other.”
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