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On Saturday, August 25, Senator John McCain died at the age of 81, according to a statement released by his office. Just one day prior, the McCain family had also released a statement explaining his decision to end treatment for glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. McCain had been in treatment for over a year.

Though he may be known by younger generations as the 2008 Republican presidential candidate who ran against Barack Obama, McCain’s legacy began years prior, during his time serving as a naval aviator during the Vietnam War. Held as a prisoner of war for nearly six years, he was later hailed as a ‘war hero’ by his fellow Americans.

‘Shot down over Hanoi, suffering broken arms and a shattered leg, he was subjected to solitary confinement for two years and beaten frequently,’ the New York Times wrote in McCain’s obituary. ‘Often he was suspended by ropes lashing his arms behind him. He attempted suicide twice. His weight fell to 105 pounds. He rejected early release to keep his honor and to avoid an enemy propaganda coup or risk demoralizing his fellow prisoners.’

After returning to the United States, McCain settled in Arizona and began his political career, winning two terms in the House of Representatives and six in the Senate. In 2000, he unsuccessfully pursued the Republican presidential nomination to George W. Bush; in 2008, he and running-mate Sarah Palin were beat by Obama and Joe Biden, winning 46 percent of the popular vote.

As CNN notes, McCain was ‘a throwback to an earlier era when political leaders, without betraying their own ideology, were willing on occasion to cross partisan lines.’

For more information on these topics, view our full collection of titles, including Military History and General American History. 

 

 

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