My job involves playing music on the radio,trying to keep listeners entertained during their workday and on their drive home. It's not usually a forum for politics, and I try to steer clear of these things. Not always (read: Ladd Stadium), but politics can be stressful. And we're here to make you smile, not stressed.
That said, you can't escape talking about John McCain without some mention of politics. But what John McCain's life represents is what politics should be. Yes, there is always going to be some back room dealing, and John McCain did his share of it. But John McCain never sold his country short. It was country before party, always, and that sometimes made him unpopular within the ranks of his own party.
John McCain was often called a maverick, which might have made him easy to dismiss. Except that he was also a war hero. He served his country in Vietnam, where he was captured and tortured as a POW. It's an experience that would have broken many of us. While he came away from that experience with some permanent injury, his spirit was intact. And his belief in what it means to be an American was stronger than ever.
John McCain understood that politics should not make us enemies of one another. And indeed, he requested that two former Presidents speak at his funeral -- Republican George W. Bush, and Democrat Barack Obama. It says a lot about a man when he asks two people who defeated him in Presidential campaigns to eulogize him. To me, it's a message to the American people that we need to be better. We need to acknowledge differences and vigorously debate those differences. But in the end, we must put our differences aside and focus on what unites us.
John McCain had cancer. His death was not a surprise, and he had some time to prepare. Among his preparations was a farewell note to the American people, which I'd recommend you read in its entirety. But I'll pull one small piece out of that statement and share it here -- something that we need to remember about our country, and about those with whom we disagree:
We are 325 million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes 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'll get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do.
Rest in Peace, John McCain. Your presence on the American stage will be sorely missed. My hope is that our leaders will learn something from your example.
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