Sen. John McCain died of cancer at the age of 81, but the legacy he will leave behind is incredible. Here are 10 times he was an American hero or crossed party lines to choose his country over his party.
1. McCain looked out for his fellow troops
While being held in a POW camp, captors asked McCain if he wanted to be released since he was a son of an admiral. But McCain said no. "I just knew it wasn't the right thing to do," he said. "I knew that they wouldn't have offered it to me if I hadn't been the son of an admiral. I just didn't think it was the honorable thing to do."
2. McCain earned a Navy Commendation Medal
McCain's refusal to leave until his comrades could, too, earned him a Navy Commendation medal.
"His selfless action served as an example to others and his forthright refusal, by giving emphasis to the insidious nature of such releases, may have prevented a possibly chaotic deterioration in prisoner discipline."
3. McCain championed campaign finance reform
In 1989, McCain and other lawmakers met with federal regulators on behalf of businessman Charles Keating. McCain was cleared of wrongdoing by the Senate Ethics Committee, but he took campaign finance laws to heart and decided to make a change. In 2002, Congress passed the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, championed by McCain himself and Russell Feingold, a Democrat from Wisconsin.
4. McCain disavowed the Confederate flag In 2000
In 2000, McCain ran for president against George W. Bush in the Republican Primary. In January 2000, McCain upset many South Carolina Republicans when he weighed in about the Confederate flag. McCain said the flag is "offensive" and "a symbol of racism and slavery."
5. McCain defended Obama from fake news
In October 2008 at a campaign rally, McCain shut down fear-mongers who were saying that Obama is an Arab who associates with domestic terrorists in this famous video.
"No ma'am. No ma'am. He's a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have fundamental disagreements with on fundamental issues."
6. His 2008 concession speech to Barack Obama
After losing the presidential election to Barack Obama, McCain gave a positive outlook on Obama's victory for race relations and took the defeat in stride in his concession speech.
"My friends, we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly. A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Sen. Barack Obama — to congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love."
7. McCain commended CIA torture report release
In 2014, the Senate released a report on a CIA interrogation program, much to the dismay of many Republican congressmen except John McCain. A POW himself, McCain, in a long speech on the Senate floor, said:
It is a thorough and thoughtful study of practices that I believe not only failed their purpose—to secure actionable intelligence to prevent further attacks on the U.S. and our allies—but actually damaged our security interests, as well as our reputation as a force for good in the world.
8. McCain's Liberty Medal speech
In 2017, John McCain received the Liberty Medal award, and at the ceremony, the Arizona senator used his speech to decry Trump's "half-baked nationalism" and warned against isolationism.
"To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain 'the last best hope of earth' for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history."
9. His thumbs down to save Obamacare
In 2017, Republican senators attacked the Affordable Care Act and attempted to repeal it. With Sens. Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) already voting no, McCain's vote determined the fate of Obamacare. His famous thumbs-down vote symbolized McCain's bipartisanship and saved health care for millions of Americans.
10. McCain slammed Trump for congratulating Putin
After Vladimir Putin won re-election in March 2018, Donald Trump congratulated Putin, but McCain wasn't having any of it. In a press release, McCain said: An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections. And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine their country's future, including the countless Russian patriots who have risked so much to protest and resist Putin's regime.
Rest In Peace, Maverick.