It is as if someone was trying to send us all a message. Perhaps we weren’t listening when people were speaking about the kind of man John McCain was. So, three months later, George H.W. Bush was taken from us and many of the same words to describe a true American hero and heroism were spoken again.
Their lives were eerily similar. McCain and Bush both were raised in families dedicated to national service. McCain’s father and grandfather were admirals in the U.S. Navy. Bush’s father served as an officer in World War I and later became a United States senator.
McCain and Bush were naval aviators and were shot out of the Asian skies on bombing missions and had to eject from their aircraft, McCain over Vietnam and Bush off the Japanese coast. After military service, both went on to seek public office and won and they each lost a presidential race as the Republican Party’s nominee.
Upon losing their presidential campaigns, it wasn’t either’s style to blame others or seek pity, as much as defeat must have personally hurt. Not only did they stay in the arena, they continued to serve their country and through it all displayed unmatched class and dignity, eventually befriending their rivals for the good of the country.
We should take notice but not be surprised by the similarity of the words used to describe them both: grace, humility, honor, respect, family, love, hero, modest, servant, friend, dignity, loyal, patriot. It was said both men dedicated their lives to causes greater than their own self-interest. Their main missions were identical – to be the best husband, father and grandfather they could be and to serve their country to the best of their ability with honor, modesty and dignity.
So why were their lives spared at such young ages when those of so many of their comrades-in-arms were not? Why did they deserve to live while others around them died? These are questions I am sure they asked themselves every single day and help explain why there was never a slow, wasted day once McCain was released from his POW cell and Bush was recovered at sea. It is almost as if they were determined to live as many of the lives as they could on behalf of the fallen who perished so young in service to their country.
America should be grateful their lives were miraculously spared. Our nation should be grateful for their lifelong service. America should be listening to what has been said and continues to be said about them. Was either of them perfect? Neither would say that they were, but who among us is?
You didn’t have to like or agree with their politics, but you can’t say that you did not respect their dedication and love of country. Neither John McCain nor George H.W. Bush ever bragged or spoke of their personal accomplishments; that wasn’t their way. Such tributes were left to those who spoke of them at their memorial services and funerals. The question is: was anyone listening?
The start of a new year is a time of both reflection and anticipation – and one of dedication to making the most and best of ourselves in the months ahead. As we contemplate a year without John McCain and George H.W. Bush for the first time in our lives, let us not just honor them and give thanks for their service and commitment to the nation; let’s pledge in 2019 to try and emulate their highest virtues. Doing so will be the enduring tribute to their great lives that they so highly deserve. It will also be our way of rightly honoring those young men and women who have gave their lives, so that we can continue to live ours in peace and freedom.
State Rep. Craig Goldman was first elected in 2012 and just began serving his fourth term in the Texas House of Representatives. He represents House District 97, which encompasses Southwest Tarrant County.