No matter what your political affiliation, or like me, even if you don't agree with all of his positions, this piece reveals the character of John McCain. The character of his generation. One that Hillary and Obama can only hope to emulate, and only years from now.
Contrast a woman who literally fabricates heroism with a man that lived it and then never asked to be recognized as a hero. Contrast McCain with a prosperous black man who has lived the American dream as a young politician, author and lecturer (not professor, mind you) and yet won't raise hand to heart during a national anthem.
Once upon a time there was a no-name generation that went about its business and did not call attention to itself. While the Greatest moved offstage and the Boomers ran amuck, it raised and educated families, laying the groundwork for a prosperous future. Overlooked, ignored by those who followed it, and alone among its peers, this generation may soon see one of its members become president.
In our youth-obsessed society, newness trumps experience. Media central casting gives this older generation a thumbs down, favoring the novel and the different. But Sen. McCain, who will turn 72 in August, still goes about his business with the dogged determination that sustained him through long years in a North Vietnamese prison.
Mr. McCain's most intense early memories are likely of a time when most men under 40 wore the uniform; and there is a difference, I believe, between those who remember it and those who don't.
...when the German army had a stranglehold on Europe, and the Japanese on Asia. Those who lived through that eventful period understood the greatness of our nation -- our indispensable nation -- and knew that without it the future of mankind would be dark indeed.
At a time of reckoning, America rose up "in righteous wrath" against history's most evil villains. To have no pride in that significant accomplishment surely seems to John McCain, as it does to me, no less than moral blindness.
Troubled by American complacency in the mid-1950s, Mr. McCain chose to follow his father and grandfather to Annapolis. He earned his flying wings, became a squadron leader on the carriers Forrestal and Oriskany, and was shot down in combat over North Vietnam.
While others talk of courage, honor and dedication, John McCain exemplifies those virtues. At a time when America's integrity and purpose were being questioned, his fortitude helped reaffirm our core beliefs. A nation that could produce young men of his caliber could right itself and overcome whatever obstacles it faced. After more than five years of imprisonment, he finally came hobbling home, and with a broad smile and a firm salute, took our collective breath away.
No one better represents this than Mr. McCain. His authenticity, unlike that of his Democratic Party counterparts, is beyond question. What you see is what you get, and what you get is the real thing.