Vietnam war hero and U.S. Senator, John Sidney McCain III (1936-) was born on this day in the Panama Canal Zone, the son and grandson of four-star admirals. Young "Johnny" was primed to take over the family's military legacy immediately.
"Leadership is both burden and privilege," McCain said, knowing first-hand the privilege...and burdens.
Graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958, he was a pilot for 22 years. His plane was shot down over Hanoi in 1967 and he spent over five grueling years in a North Vietnamese Prisoner of War camp, much of it in solitary confinement. McCain was released in 1973 at the end of the war.
He once said, "Speaking from experience, failing stinks. Just don't stop there. Don't be undone by it. Move on. Failure is no more a permanent condition than success."
A longtime admirer of Ronald Reagan, McCain turned to politics in 1977 as the Navy’s liaison to the U.S. Senate. He was first elected to represent Arizona in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982, then elected to the Senate in 1985.
After his unsuccessful run for the Republican nomination for President in 2000, McCain overhauled the campaign finance system. With a reputation as a politician willing to speak his mind, he once said, "If hypocrisy were gold, the Capitol would be Fort Knox."
Despite an unsuccessful Presidential run in 2008, McCain continued the passionate commitment to his country in the Senate with the drive and tenacity that defined his life.
Biographer Elizabeth Drew said of McCain: "His candor and forthrightness are a very powerful part of his political arsenal. It gives him a tremendous following--unlike any I've seen on Capitol Hill."
Glory comes with service to others.