“Faith of my Fathers”
To conclude October, what could be more frightening than a book by a presidential candidate? The election is just a week away so if you want to read this book you will have to put it on hold at the library today. A month ago I reserved this John McCain family memoir and also Barak Obama’s “Dreams from my Father” to give both sides equal representation, but someone out there has not returned it and now has a very overdue library book. I don’t mind since your fine will help pay for a new library!
The book begins with a brief genealogy and then focuses first on the story of his grandfather and father, both four-star admirals in the U.S. Navy. Their examples of courage and perseverance were the foundation for John McCain’s legendary act of heroism during the Vietnam War described in the final chapters.
It is a book about a patriotic family of career military men who were intensely dedicated to their country but flawed as all men are. I appreciated the humor that often surfaced as the youngest McCain reminisces about these alpha males. Describing his grandfather he writes: “He smoked, swore, drank, and gambled at every opportunity he had. His profile in the 1943 Current Biography described him as one of the navy’s best plain and fancy cussers.”
McCain’s father was more of a religious man. “He always kept with him a tattered, dog-eared prayer book, from which he would pray aloud for an hour, on his knees, twice every day”. Both men had standards of honor passed down from one generation to another. “As boys, no less than as men, they did not lie, steal, or cheat, and they never shirked their duty.” These were the fathers of John McCain.
As Senator McCain relates his capture and subsequent imprisonment of more than five years we are amazed by his bravery and resilience. “Vietnam changed me in significant ways, for the better. It is a surpassing irony that war; for all its horror, provides the combatant with every conceivable human experience.” He noted that these experiences were transforming. “I know my life is blessed, and always has been.”
We have often heard war heroes express gratitude for their families and their values as they relate their story of survival. McCain did not only survive but triumphed. He returned from an incredible ordeal and continued to serve his country as a congressman and senator. We will soon know if McCain will also serve as president.