On Saturday, the world lost a true American hero when John S. McCain III lost his battle with brain cancer. McCain, a six-term Arizona senator and two-time presidential contender, was 81 when he died at his Arizona ranch, surrounded by loved ones.
According to McCain’s office, he died at 4:28 p.m. local time. McCain had been open about his health since being diagnosed in July 2017 with a malignant and particularly aggressive form of brain cancer called a glioblastoma. Over the past year, he periodically underwent chemotherapy and radiation. On Friday, his camp announced that he would be stopping treatment altogether.
McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, shared the news of her father’s death via a lengthy and emotional statement on Twitter.
“I was with my father at his end, as he was with me at my beginning. In the thirty-three years we shared together, he raised me, taught me, corrected me, comforted me, encouraged me, and supported me in all things. He loved me, and I loved him. He taught me how to live. His love and his care, ever present, always unfailing, took me from a girl to a woman — and he showed me what it is to be a man,” Meghan wrote. She added, among other sentiments, “All that I am is thanks to him. Now that he is gone, the task of my lifetime is to live up to his example, his expectations, and his love.”
Cindy McCain, the senator’s wife, also took to Twitter to mourn her loss. “My heart is broken. I am so lucky to have lived the adventure of loving this incredible man for 38 years. He passed the way he lived, on his own terms, surrounded by the people he loved, in the place he loved best,” Cindy said.
My heart is broken. I am so lucky to have lived the adventure of loving this incredible man for 38 years. He passed the way he lived, on his own terms, surrounded by the people he loved, in the the place he loved best.
— Cindy McCain (@cindymccain) August 26, 2018
A lifelong public servant, John McCain earned a reputation as a “maverick” — a conservative who was willing to cross partisan lines to defend the democratic principles he’d devoted his life to protecting. He served in the U.S. Navy, notably surviving more than five years of torture as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Despite the inhumane treatment he suffered during that time, McCain rejected early release in the name of honor and out of loyalty to his fellow prisoners of war.
On Saturday, former president Barack Obama paid touching tribute to his former political opponent (McCain memorably refused to personally disparage Obama when they ran against each other in 2008).
“John McCain and I were members of different generations, came from completely different backgrounds, and competed at the highest level of politics,” Obama said in a statement. “But we shared, for all our differences, a fidelity to something higher — the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed.”
Obama alluded to McCain’s strength of character, saying, “Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did. But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own. At John’s best, he showed us what that means. And for that, we are all in his debt.”
Former vice president and Delaware senator Joe Biden, a close friend of McCain’s whose own son succumbed to brain cancer, also issued a statement. “John McCain will cast a long shadow. His impact on America hasn’t ended. Not even close. It will go on for many years to come,” Biden said in his statement.
Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton also remembered her friend and colleague, telling NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, “He leaves a legacy of service and courage. The courage we all came to know because of his time as a P.O.W., but getting up every day and working as hard as he did for the people of Arizona, for the values that he cherished, wasn’t easy.”
Former president George W. Bush, for whom McCain was an outspoken advocate, called his dear friend "a patriot of the highest order."
"Some lives are so vivid, it is difficult to imagine them ended. Some voices are so vibrant, it is hard to think of them stilled. John McCain was a man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order.” […] Full statement by President George W. Bush https://t.co/FQVYWIUyGL pic.twitter.com/W8LCxJXRLi
— George W. Bush Presidential Center (@TheBushCenter) August 26, 2018
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau called McCain “an inspiration to millions,” and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison referred to McCain as “a true friend” and “a man of great courage and conviction.”
Senator John McCain was an American patriot and hero whose sacrifices for his country, and lifetime of public service, were an inspiration to millions. Canadians join Americans tonight in celebrating his life and mourning his passing.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) August 26, 2018
The outpouring of public support for the McCain family and admiration for McCain himself also came from Hollywood. Celebs flooded Twitter and Instagram with condolences.
Duty. Honor. Country. Our nation thanks you, John McCain. There has been no finer son of America… Hanx
— Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) August 26, 2018
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I grew up in Arizona. John McCain was always famous to me, larger than life. As a child, the only two politicians I knew were the president, and John McCain. My parents are dems but always would vote for Senator McCain because they liked what he stood for and that he was an American hero. My older sister interned for Senator McCain when she was in high school and said he was so kind when he was in the office. Rest in peace, Senator. Thank you for your service to the country.
America lost a real hero today. Condolences to @cindymccain, the McCain family and the Arizonans who were so fortunate to have the opportunity to vote for a man of principle. John McCain’s sacrifice and the sacrifices made by all our POWs and MIAs must never be forgotten.
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) August 26, 2018
I was honored to have met John McCain. He always stood up for what he believed was right. Sending love to his family on this very sad day for our country. pic.twitter.com/SiIsXJMqvo
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) August 26, 2018
Senator John McCain passed today, all i can think about..he never stopped trying to do his best. What an honor it’s been to know him. My condolences to the family he loved and adored and to his daughter & my friend @MeghanMcCain…from all my family, much love
— Whoopi Goldberg (@WhoopiGoldberg) August 26, 2018
— Reese Witherspoon (@RWitherspoon) August 26, 2018
Saddened to hear of the passing of Sen. John McCain, the consummate loyal American and devoted public servant. Praying for his family. He will be sorely missed.
— Sheryl Crow (@SherylCrow) August 26, 2018
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John McCain. When I was trying to get an anti shark finning bill passed through the Senate with @oceana not only did he sit and listen to me but he exceeded our allotted 8min time window and took us on a tour of DC for over an hour after he heard I’d never been. Such an amazing man. A hero and a voice that will be sorely missed. ❤️ ps. The bill got passed because of him that day.
RIP a true American Patriot who gave his life to this country 🇺🇸 and condolences to the entire McCain family 🇺🇸
— Andy Cohen (@Andy) August 26, 2018
Asked recently how he would hope to be remembered, McCain said, “That I made a major contribution to the defense of the nation.” Mission accomplished, good sir. Rest easy.