Let us praise famous men ... the Lord apportioned to them great glory ... But of others, there is no memory they have perished as though they had never been born. But these also were godly men. Ecclesiasticus 44:1ff.
Senator John McCain died from brain cancer. His physical voice has been silenced, but his legacy will live on in America. He was a patriot and a true hero that for many years fought the American political cancer.
In an editorial, "Death of An American Hero," Paul Greenburg wrote: "He was a giant among political pygmies, always faithful and even modest about the place he had earned in American history."
My oldest brother, Allan, became a friend of John McCain when Allan was at the Pentagon. Both men were pilots. McCain was in the Navy and Allan was in the Air Force. Both had flown missions over North Vietnam and they both had been shot down. Allan was rescued, and John was not. Both were Episcopalians and they prayed with their comrades.
One of the eulogies for John McCain was delivered by the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to the members of Congress as they stood before the flag-draped casket. He spoke not only of who John McCain was, but who John McCain still is to America.
He said, "I think ahead to the day when I, like so many, will bring my own children and perhaps their children to that hallowed lawn in Annapolis. I think about what I may say to them. This is one of the bravest souls our nation ever produced. However you choose to do your part, I hope you do it with energy and urgency -- playing for keeps, never back on your heels, never letting principle yield to expedience, resisting the false allure of the fleeting, and battering down the hatches when things get rough. And always having a good story to tell. We have the chance to do for this man what he did for us. To stand up and embrace the cause of his life. None of us can fulfill the charge. But all of us can surely try. Because all of this is worth fighting for."
Soon we will have an opportunity to "try." The midterm elections will call all registered voters to polling places. Before we vote, I call us to pray about that responsibility. We may need to reach down deep, put aside party affiliations, and vote for men or women that will heroically put service to America above self.
On the way to Nov. 6, pause on Oct. 1 to remember that in 2017, 58 Americans were murdered in Las Vegas and 800 were wounded or injured seeking shelter. Some American businesses stepped up and did what congress still won't do. They refuse to sell bump stocks and placed restrictions on purchasing guns. Using private finances, others are studying gun violence as a disease. Most of the candidates seeking re-election have made promises to do similar things, but they are missing in action.
Few people will have burial services like John McCain. But, when we put on our backbones and try, like him, heroic things happen. Thank you for your service John McCain and than you American voters for your service.
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Ken Parks is the former rector of St. Theodore's Episcopal Church in Bella Vista. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.Religion on 09/12/2018
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