Sen. John McCain penned a final message before he died from brain cancer on Saturday, August 25, that emphasized unity and criticized President Donald Trump.
The late politician’s close friend and aide Rick Davis read the statement aloud during a press conference in Phoenix on Monday, August 27, after detailing plans for memorial services that will take place throughout the week.
“My fellow Americans, whom I have gratefully served for 60 years, and especially my fellow Arizonans. Thank you for the privilege of serving you and for the rewarding life that service in uniform and in public office has allowed me to lead,” McCain began. “I have tried to serve our country honorably. I have made mistakes, but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them.”
The late senator wrote that he realized he is “the luckiest person on earth … even now as I prepare for the end of my life.” He noted that he has regrets, but he “would not trade a day” in his life because “no man ever had a more loving wife or children.” (McCain is survived by his wife, Cindy, and seven adult children: Douglas, Andrew, Sidney, Meghan, John, James and Bridget.)
After listing some of America’s best qualities, McCain took a moment to address the current political climate. “We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe,” he wrote. “We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.”
He acknowledged that the nation is made up of 325 million “opinionated, vociferous individuals” before urging them to come together: “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 will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do.”
The 2008 Republican presidential candidate ended his farewell message by telling Americans not to “despair of our present difficulties, but believe always in the promise and greatness” of the country.
The statement was released just a few hours after the White House hoisted its flag back to full-staff, which sparked backlash from both sides of the aisle. The flag was at half-staff for less than 48 hours after McCain’s death. It typically remains in the mourning position until burial. McCain will be laid to rest on Sunday, September 2. The president, 72, has not been invited to the funeral at the request of the late politician.
The White House did not release an official statement about the Vietnam war hero’s death. Instead, Trump tweeted a 21-word message offering his “deepest sympathies and respect.” He also ignored an ABC News reporter’s question about “the legacy of John McCain” in the Oval Office on Monday morning.
McCain and the former Celebrity Apprentice host were at odds for years. Trump, who received five military draft deferments during the Vietnam War, claimed in 2015 that the decorated veteran was not a war hero because he had been captured after being imprisoned and tortured for five years.
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