Unconventional, independent-minded, trendsetter, nonconformist, and unorthodox are just a few of the words that have been used to describe late U.S Senator, John McCain. Since he passed away on the 25th of August 2018, there has been an outpouring of heartfelt tributes from not just his constituents and Washington but also from world leaders. Senator John McCain was a rare breed of a patriot who readily put national interest above his own political and party’s interest. Find out here, more about the incredible life of this man and why he is called the maverick senator.
His Biography and Life Accomplishments
Senator John McCain was born John Sidney McCain III on the 29th of August 1936 at a U.S Naval station in the Panama Canal Zone. He was born into a family that could be described as Navy Royalty. His father, John S. McCain Jr. was a four-star admiral who would, later on, become the commander of U.S Naval forces in the Pacific region. His grandfather, John Sydney McCain Sr. was also a four-star admiral in the U.S Navy. His mother, who is still alive, is named Roberta and he had two other siblings.
Due to the nature of military life, the McCain’s never stayed in one place but followed their father around to whichever Naval base he was posted to. As a result, Senator John McCain had his elementary and high school education in about 20 different schools including the Episcopalian High School Virginia from where he graduated in 1954. Thereafter, McCain, in keeping with the family tradition, attended the U.S Naval Academy in Maryland from where he qualified as a junior officer in 1958. He subsequently attended flight school and qualified as a naval pilot in 1960.
John McCain had two careers in his lifetime, the first was in the military and the second was in public service.
As a Navy pilot, John McCain went on various missions for the US Navy. When the Vietnam war broke out, he voluntarily signed up for active duty and went on different missions bombing targets on the ground.
The year 1967 was an unforgettable one in the life of Senator John McCain. In July of that year, the warship where he was stationed (USS Forrestal) accidentally caught fire which led to several rockets on the ship exploding. The resulting inferno consumed the life of 134 sailors. McCain, however, survived the accident.
On the 26th of October 1967, McCain’s plane was shot down over Hanoi, capital of North Vietnam, and he was taken prisoner. John McCain was a prisoner of war (POW) for a period of five and half years during which he endured extreme forms of torture, beatings, and maltreatment from his captors. At a point, he was offered his freedom but he refused, insisting that those captured before him should be released first. He also refused to play into the hands of his captors who knew his father as a high ranking Naval officer and as such, wanted to use his release to drum up cheap popularity.
John McCain eventually regained his freedom on the 14th of March 1973 but he was a changed man. He had sustained many injuries which he knew would hinder him from reaching the pinnacle of his Naval career and thus in 1981, he retired from the Navy. He received several recognitions for outstanding military service in his lifetime including Purple Heart, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Silver Star and a POW Medal.
John McCain got his first taste of politics when the Navy made him their liaison to the Senate in 1977. He found politics interesting and challenging and thus started nursing political ambitions, an ambition he later realized with the help of his wife’s family’s influence.
In 1981, after his marriage to Cindy Hensley, he moved to Phoenix where his wife was based. While there, he worked in the PR department of his father-in-law’s beer company. He was able to cultivate the necessary political connections he needed and backed by loans from his wife, a year later, in 1982, he was elected into the House of Representatives. He served for a period of two terms and in 1986, he was elected into the Senate to represent Arizona. The Arizona senator would go on to spend 30 years (6 terms) in the Senate.
As a Republican, Senator McCain was conservative on boiling issues such as gun control and abortion. He also fully supported the Iraq War. However, he supported a number of “liberal” issues as well. He introduced different legislation to tackle global warming as well as provide a well-defined path through which illegal immigrants could eventually become legal and even obtain citizenship.
He never hesitated to go against his party whenever he felt that national interest was at stake. In July 2017, his No-vote delivered a fatal blow to Donald Trump’s plan to repeal Obamacare which provides health coverage for millions of Americans. Unlike most politicians who would toe the party line whether they agree with it or not, Senator John McCain never hesitated to depart from the party line if he believed it to be wrong. This earned him the nickname of “the Maverick Senator.”
Senator John McCain was also willing to reach across the aisle in order to ensure that a particular piece of legislation came to fruition. One of his most remarkable achievements in the Senate was a collaborative effort with Democratic Senator Russ Feingold which resulted in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act 2002. The Act sanitized the financing of political campaigns in the United States which had become a “swamp”.
He also played a pivotal role in restoring US-Vietnam relations in spite of his harrowing experience there. McCain contested the 2007 presidential elections primaries of the Democratic party but lost to Barack Obama.
Senator McCain’s impact was felt beyond the borders of the United States. He supported the US military intervention in Libya and even visited the rebel forces who ousted Gaddafi from power. Also, following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, Senator McCain called for the United States to not only arm the rebel forces (whom he visited in 2013) but also fight alongside them in order to drive out the Assad regime.
John McCain was human and as such was not without faults. In the 1980s, he was involved in a campaign financing scandal known as the Keating scandal but his name was eventually cleared. His critics have also argued that his “Maverickness” is just him playing to the gallery.
Family (Wife, Children)
Senator John McCain has been married twice in his lifetime. His first wife was Carol Shepp. They got married on the 3rd of July 1965. Carol Shepp already had two children from a previous marriage: Douglas and Andrew, whom McCain adopted. They also had a daughter together named Sydney.
The couple however divorced in 1980 after being separated for a while. During the period of separation, McCain met and began a relationship with Cindy Lou Hensley. They got married on the 17th of May 1980. The marriage was blessed with four children Meghan, Jonh Sidney IV, and James, in 1991, the McCains adopted an infant girl from Bangladesh whom they named Bridget.
John McCain’s Daughter Meghan
Meghan, whose full name is Meghan Marguerite McCain has gone on to become a well-accomplished lady in her own right. She is an author and political analyst and has contributed to various news shows on TV stations such as Fox News, MSNBC, and ABC Television. She is currently one of the hosts of the popular American talk show The View. Meghan can also be described as a political maverick, just like her dad. Even though she is a Republican, she is liberal on certain issues including gay rights, she is pro-life and supports contraceptives usage as well as sex education.
Death of Senator John McCain
Senator John McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer in July 2017 for which he underwent several treatments. However, on the 24th of July 2018, the family announced that he had stopped further treatments. He passed away the next day on the 25th of August 2018 at his family home in Arizona. He was 81 years old at the time of his death.