“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.” – John McCain
John McCain passed away on August 25, 2018 at the age of the 81. Only a year earlier, the Senator went public with the news that he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor known as Glioblastoma.
Today, McCain is being remembered by political colleagues and Americans across the country as a hero and a political figure who was not only defiant of Donald Trump, but the bipartisanship that has so negatively shaped modern American politics.
In remembering the late senator, one of McCain’s finest political moments was during his 2008 Presidential run against Barack Obama.
During a town hall event, McCain was taking questions from supporters of his in the audience. One of those audience members told McCain that was she was scared of an Obama presidency, due to her belief that Obama was an Arab. In a move practically non-existent in today’s politics, John McCain quickly shut down the comment and defended his political opponent.
“No ma’am. He’s a decent, family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign is all about.”
That strength of character was also evident in his military service.
In addition to his service as the United States senator from Arizona, John McCain was also a respected war hero. During the Vietnam war, McCain was a Navy pilot, who was captured and held as a prisoner of war for over 5 years. Despite enduring torture as a POW, he refused to be released without his fellow prisoners.
McCain’s time as a Vietnam POW became the subject of a highly controversial statement made by then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2015.
Trump, who has not served in the military, criticized McCain’s military record saying, “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
As the news broke this past weekend of John McCain’s death, people across the United States — and even around the world — shared messages of condolences.
President Obama posted a message on Twitter on behalf of himself and former First Lady Michelle Obama that spoke of McCain’s courage and the belief the two of them shared in fighting for a cause larger than themselves.
Other prominent political figures including Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton shared tributes to the late senator.
John McCain wasn’t just admired for his war service or his work in politics; it was his character as a person that he embodied during his service that made him so respected by people on both sides of the political aisle.
In honor of John McCain and his legacy as an American war hero and political maverick, here are 25 the most inspirational and motivational John McCain quotes.
1. On his love for America.
“In prison, I fell in love with my country. I had loved her before then, but like most young people, my affection was little more than a simple appreciation for the comforts and privileges most Americans enjoyed and took for granted. It wasn’t until I had lost America for a time that I realized how much I loved her.” — John McCain
2. Fighting for something bigger than yourself.
“Nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself, something that encompasses you but is not defined by your existence alone.” — John McCain
3. The power of true courage.
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the capacity to act despite our fears.” — John McCain
4. American resolve.
“Americans Never Quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We Make History.” — John McCain
5. Glory is about a higher cause.
“Glory belongs to the act of being constant to something greater than yourself, to a cause, to your principles, to the people on whom you rely and who rely on you” — John McCain
6. A person’s character is significant.
“It is your character, and your character alone, that will make your life happy or unhappy.” — John McCain
7. A relevant message for today’s political media.
“Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the Internet. To hell with them. They don’t want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood” — John McCain
8. Doing our part to make the world a better place is never a lost cause.
“No just cause is futile, even if it’s lost, if it helps make the future better than the past.” — John McCain
9. Confronting the problematic partisan political culture.
“But we’re at a place in our political history when passing legislation through the House with bipartisan support is considered by some folks a greater evil than the problem it’s intended to solve.” — John McCain
10. Diversity is an American strength.
“Demographics aren’t destiny. Our culture isn’t the work of one race or religion. To suggest otherwise is to contradict our ideals and to doubt their power.” — John McCain
11. What do you fight for?
“I don’t mind a good fight. For reasons known only to God, I’ve had quite a few tough ones in my life. But I learned an important lesson along the way: In the end, it matters less that you can fight. What you fight for is the real test.” — John McCain
12. Discussing our shared values as people.
“Our shared values define us more than our differences. And acknowledging those shared values can see us through our challenges today if we have the wisdom to trust in them again.” — John McCain
13. The importance of serving others.
“Every day, people serve their neighbors and our nation in many different ways, from helping a child learn and easing the loneliness of those without a family to defending our freedom overseas. It is in this spirit of dedication to others and to our country that I believe service should be broadly and deeply encouraged.” — John McCain
14. Speaking on Freedom of the Press.
“If you want to preserve – I’m very serious now – if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators get started.” — John McCain
15. America’s hopeful strength.
“America’s greatest strength has always been its hopeful vision of human progress.” — John McCain
16. The cruel reality of war.
“War is wretched beyond description, and only a fool or a fraud could sentimentalize its cruel reality.” — John McCain
17. The importance of truth.
“The truth is sometimes a hard pill to swallow. It sometimes causes us difficulties at home and abroad. It is sometimes used by our enemies in attempts to hurt us. But the American people are entitled to it, nonetheless.” — John McCain
18. The role of the government in helping people.
“The first role of government is to help people who are in crisis or need. That’s why we have government.” — John McCain
19. We can continue to learn and grow.
“Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed.” — John McCain
20. Knowledge is power.
“Most great leaders in history that I’ve studied always need to get as wide a range of opinions as possible so that they can have sufficient information to make the right decisions.” — John McCain
21. Bravery and determination.
“I have watched men suffer the anguish of imprisonment, defy appalling human cruelty… break for a moment, then recover inhuman strength to defy their enemies once more.” — John McCain
22. Actions speak louder than words.
“Sometimes it’s important to watch what the president does rather than what he says.” — John McCain
23. We all need hope in our lives.
“Depriving the oppressed of a beacon of hope could lose us the world we have built and thrived in. It could cost our reputation in history as the nation distinct from all others in our achievements, our identity, and our enduring influence on mankind. Our values are central to all three.” — John McCain
24. Speaking on human rights.
“America didn’t invent human rights. Those rights are common to all people: nations, cultures, and religions cannot choose to simply opt out of them.” — John McCain
25. Rest in peace, Senator McCain.
“When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”
If you’re looking for a little inspiration, we’ve got the best quotes to share and savor. For quotes from the most inspiring celebs, activists, and poets, look no further! You might even find the quote that motivates the best parts of your life (and love!) forever.
Jill Zwarensteyn is a writer and Michigan native. When she’s not writing, Jill enjoys Zumba class, travel, and referencing classic Seinfeld episodes.