Go to contents

Fighter John McCain

Posted July. 22, 2017 07:14,   

Updated July. 22, 2017 07:34


“This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.” The speech to acknowledge his defeat in the presidential race delivered by then Republican candidate John McCain after losing to Democratic candidate Barack Obama in 2008 was one of the most touching scenes in the U.S. political history. When McCain heard his supporters make racially discriminatory remarks against Obama, he tried to stop them, saying that Mr. Obama is a dignified American citizen. We should not be afraid of him becoming U.S. president.


This reporter once bumped into McCain at Ronald Reagan International Airport in July 2012 while heading for Tampa, Florida to cover a Republican convention. He said he was on his way to give endorsement speeches for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. He was not using the VIP lounge, and was holding his bag in his hand without an aide on his side. He was sitting in the economy class in flight. McCain was a very gentle politician who did not blame the media at all even though media outlets mostly covered Obama during the 2008 presidential election.


McCain, who participated in the Vietnam War as a fighter pilot, became a war prisoner at an industrial zone in Hanoi in October 1967 when his airplane was hit by a Soviet surface-to-air missile. When his father, Jack McCain, became the commander of the Pacific Command the following year, North Vietnam proposed his son’s release. However, the pilot McCain declined the offer, saying that he should follow the military principle: “Those who get captive first get released first.” This is the reason he earned the nickname “hero.”


McCain, who is now 80, recently received surgery for malign brain tumor. President Donald Trump, who had discredited McCain saying he was not a "war hero," issued statement, saying that McCain has always been a fighter. Despite his illness, McCain kept his sense of humor, saying “I greatly appreciate the outpouring of support - unfortunately for my sparring partners in Congress, I'll be back soon, so stand-by!" We wish prompt recovery for Senator McCain who would frankly say that the Republic of Korea is paying a significant portion of the expenses for the stationing of the U.S. troops in Korea, and the U.S. should be grateful for that.

Young-Hae Choi yhchoi65@donga.com