By Janice Barlow
THIS ARTICLE IS A FOLLOW UP to Richard Cameron’s piece in National Compass, “Clearing the Record on John McCain’s Record of Service in the Navy“, also published today. Cameron enlightened us on the truth of McCain’s past military service. I want to briefly touch on what has occurred recently and remind America that military service will always supersede those who mock it, even those at the highest levels.
When the flag flies for the heart.
Monday, as the Administration waffled under media pressure to lower the flags to half-staff again in Washington D.C. after raising them to full staff that morning, (Something that has never been done before), the battle over “fake news” continues to be waged concerning the history of deceased Senator John McCain’s military service.
The flag issue is easier to resolve. The code states that when a congress person dies, the flag must be lowered to half-staff on the day of death and the following day. The flag was lowered to half-staff last Friday and continued to be raised to half-staff on Saturday and Sunday.
So by the book, there was no issue with it being raised to full staff on Monday, but by tradition, the flag flies at half-staff through the day of interment. Donald Trump ordered it to remain at half-staff until McCain’s interment after being pressured in a letter by the head of the American Legion, Denise Rohan, who represents over two million veterans. Another gaffe that will go down in history to be added to a shipload of gaffes that began in January, 2017.
NEW: The American Legion, the nation's largest veterans service organization, is calling on Trump to make "appropriate presidential proclamation" noting McCain's service & that flags be half-staffed until his funeral.
Here's the National Commander's open letter to the president: pic.twitter.com/gISSOAh7Xx
— Vera Bergengruen (@VeraMBergen) August 27, 2018
Why it’s deceptive to defame an American war hero.
John McCain probably has had more rumors and fake news circulated regarding both his military history and as a member of Congress than any recent public servant. A cursory view of privilege will give some perspective.
When one looks at John McCain as a Vietnam veteran (a Navy Captain), and what he endured as a POW in Hanoi, it becomes much more apparent that he could never betray his country.
McCain was captured and taken, along with other pilots and seamen, to what was known as the “Hanoi Hilton” a bare bones cement structure where the captors were tortured, underfed and confined often for weeks in solitary cells. McCain had both arms and a knee broken when he ejected from his plane over North Vietnam, and they were never set properly but left broken while a POW. His arms healed so poorly that he could never don a shirt or a jacket again without help.
His father was a respected U.S. Navy Admiral, but that didn’t keep McCain from remaining with the other men when he was given the opportunity to be released because his father had influence. He did not want to be the “first man freed”. He would end up staying until all the remaining living men were freed as well, for five and a half years. In the military, the brotherly bond is understood by those who experienced it.
Courage comes with fear, and McCain prayed daily, writing, “I believe in God the Father Almighty” on his cell wall, as a reminder to keep going when he felt he could not. He encouraged the other men to do so as well, although he was a man of quiet faith, and never pushed his beliefs on anyone.
When one stops for a minute to consider how this man, who seems bigger than life in his service to his country, continues to be trashed daily on social media, not so much by Democrats, who were not his party, but by the Republicans who support the president, it brings shame upon our nation.
John McCain served willingly, never shirking his duty. He went above and beyond. He was a hero, and he came home with an inner strength that was easily been broken in most others. Few could have endured what he did and made it out alive, let alone with enough physical, emotional, and spiritual ability to carry on a normal life. But he did so and did it commendably, whether we agree with his politics or not.
On the other hand, Donald Trump, whose draft number was called five times, eluded that duty each time, with help from his own influential father, bluffing having bone spurs as an underhanded way to avoid serving his country. Yet he claimed to know more about the military than anyone. He attended a military academy after all, (code for Boarding School for unruly young men). He also said he “know[s] more than the Generals”.
Last and most damaging, Trump claimed McCain was no hero because he got captured. And he mocked McCain’s injuries just as he mocked the disabled journalist during the presidential campaign. But to his supporters, Trump was justified in doing so. He not only skates by with this unacceptable behavior, but he has trained his followers to behave the same way.
We know. We witness it firsthand. Every single day.