By Joe Rector

John McCain passed late last month. Since then, many Americans have thought about the man and the services he gave to his country. He is in the truest sense of the word a patriot and a hero.

First of all, I wasn’t an avid supporter of McCain. When he ran for president, I did not vote for him. His ideas were, in many instances, just a bit too hard line or conservative for me.

The man’s decision to choose Sarah Palin as a running mate was the deciding factor. I’m not sure whether he chose the woman or his campaign strategists convinced him to take her, but her addition spelled the end of McCain’s chances for the highest office in the land.

Even though I didn’t vote for him, I respected him. I knew his love of country and commitment to it was genuine. His bid for the office was grounded in a desire to serve these United States and to keep the country on a correct course.

At the same time, McCain campaigned fairly in the election; he played tough, but he wouldn’t allow half-truths and innuendo the slightest bit of oxygen. Nothing better shows that than when he corrected the woman who called Obama an Arab and a Muslim. Yes, John McCain played hard and wanted to win, but he always played within the rules.

During his time in the senate, I sometimes cursed his over-the-top demands for more defense spending, tax cuts, and right-to-life issues. He railed against many social issues, and too often, the man attacked those who disagreed with him. However, McCain was one of the most well-liked persons in the senate. Folks on both sides of the aisle remember that he often apologized for being too harsh with them. Most important, he seems to have left disagreements at the door of the chamber; when he exited, McCain was a friendly and likable individual.

The stance he took on the vote over Obamacare was one of the most courageous acts I’ve ever witnessed. Senators on both sides stood and cheered his return to the Senate chamber on the night of the vote to determine the program’s fate. In dramatic fashion, he turned thumb’s down and defeated his own party. He voted to protect his constituents, and in the process, might have protect millions of others who would have lost healthcare coverage.

It was also that vote that further made Trump hate McCain. While running for president, Trump refused to recognize McCain as a hero. “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.” Such an ignorant statement from a man who avoided service because of bone spurs would have been the opening shot to a long, loud, noisy war between two men. McCain never allowed that to happen. Instead, he went about his business of serving the people of the country the best way he saw fit.

John McCain died from the cancer that attacked him a year earlier. America grieves over the loss of one of its greatest heroes. The picture of his desk draped with a black cloth and adorned with a bouquet of white roses stings. A true leader has died. A man who stood up for principles, order, and the rules of governing is now silent. He gave 60 years of service to this country, but the man in the oval office denied him the flying of our flag at half-staff and only spoke positively about him after the American Legion sent a scathing letter and demanded the respect that was due to McCain. Republicans and democrats will both deliver eulogies during services; they were rivals and friends of the senator. The sitting president will have to find something else to do because he wasn’t welcome at the funeral.

So, another statesman has left us. Who will replace him? The next senator should be someone who is just as much of a maverick as John McCain. That means he or she will work for the good of the people, not for the party or a petty leader.

We need more people like McCain on both sides of the aisle. If they come, congress just might once again work as it should.

Thank you, John McCain, for your service to all the people of the United States.