John Sidney McCain III (1936-2018), a senator from Arizona, US presidential candidate in 2008, a straight shooter of the modern American politics, but that it not what I know about him.

In 2010, after granted a fellowship to study for a grad degree in Arizona State University, what I learned about the Arizona state was its scorching weather.  And the summer weather in Tempe, a city belongs to the Phoenix Greater Metropolitan, relives in me the smell of the road, in the air, from the bright light even after 6pm.  What I did not know then was a man named John McCain who was the senator of the state since 1987 until his death in 2018.  What I even did not know then was that he with the senator from Massachusetts, John Kerry, were the sponsors of  The Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF) Act of 2000 [^1].   The VEF Act is an U.S. Congressional Bill to create the VEF agency that supports Vietnamese citizens for Master and Ph.D study in the U.S. in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) in addition to Public Health in later years. And I am one of VEF fellows. I am grateful to the VEF for that opportunity and extend to Mrs. McCain and Kerry.

I were born and raised in a region could be described as rich spirit in the fatherland protection wars.  My father was a history teacher, and on the wall, maps of key military campaigns were hanged with the pride of what a small nation like Vietnam could achieve.  America was the bad force came to our country and did a bad thing; American was the killing machine. What I did not know then was America is also a country, a large country which its economy affects in the global scale.  American people is also normal people; they enjoy many values that Vietnamese share.

What I did not know then was Mr. McCain were born in a family with his father and grand father were Navy Admirals, and he was a Navy pilot caption himself.  In his Wikipedia's biography, a large portion is for from his plane was shot down in the sky of Hanoi in 1967, and the next 5 years as the prisoner of war.  He parachuted to a small lake that also is the name to a local brewery called "Truc Bach Beer".  By the way, his family owned one of the largest private-held brewery distributor in the U.S. called Hensley & Co. If that name is not familiar, then its products include Budweiser, Bud Light. Sounds like many twists, isn't it?

Talking about the anti-American war or the Vietnam War depends on the side you on is not easy.  Patriotism should not be undermined, and anyone seems to the less patriotic to his/her nation is vulnerable to get excused.  When two countries went in a war, the soldiers on both side however patriotic eventually committed killing each other.  So when writing about Mr. McCain, I am a mix feeling of the lucky person, and the son of a father who was wounded during the anti American war. He, Mr. McCain did the right thing then, the sacred duty as a U.S. citizen, but that is not the same from Vietnamese people and soldiers on the ground . Circulating in those thoughts has not offered me a better way to see a light out, but the consideration is there when writing this.

But let put it this way, he is a Republican, a party that runs on the American-first agenda.  The Republicans tend to hostile and hawkish to former enemies like Vietnam.   He was not treated well after the capture in Hanoi, and if any resentment deemed common sense.  He is a scion of the military family, has a destroyer named after his family's name. He did have to option to be a conventional Republican, and he is one of the strongest supporter to bring conciliation between the U.S. and Vietnam.  That is a heck of twists and turns.  Supporting reconciliation with Vietnam and  removing the economy embargo could distance himself from the political base and the risk to get reelected.   The humility to goes against the headwind and to make political alliance across the bipartisan line for important bills show his personality.  He worked with a democratic senator from Wisconsin named Russ Feigold to pass the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (2002) which limits the use of money for political campaigning.

In his late years of life, battling of skin cancer, then the most aggressive brain cancer, and he still speaks to the power to criticize President Trump, Republican, and his vote NO to repealing the Affordable Care Act, a Democratic president signature achievement, are the evidence of  his bravery and leadership.

What I learn now is that at the deathbed, people honors the difficult choice, the bravery,  the integrity, the humility of one did. That legacy of Sen. McCain lives on.

For what he has done, may him rest in peace. I think he does.

Posted by Admin, August 25, 2018

Resources:

[^1]: https://www.nafsa.org//File//InternationalEducator/VietnamMayJune05.pdf