John McCain wanted his career to end where it began: in Annapolis, Maryland. And so his final resting place will be at the bottom of a hill that includes the graves of many others who served in the Navy, in a spot that provides a view of watercraft moving along the Severn River. When USA Today spoke to the people of Annapolis, it wasn’t as a politician or as a Naval officer that they said they would remember him. It was, instead, as a man who spent his life serving his country and whose life was the epitome of the character the Navy strives to instill in its officers.
It was his sense of honor and the legacy left by his life of service that they will remember far more than anything political. A 1988 Navy Academy graduate, Amy Bleidon, expressed her thoughts on his legacy, saying, “It’s not necessarily political. That lifelong devotion I think is what made him so well thought of by everyone.”
Annapolis is where a rebellious John McCain grew up in many ways. His behavior was not exemplary as he accumulated many demerits as a rule breaker, but his personality and attitude made him one of the most popular in his class. It’s also where he forged what would become a lifelong friendship with Charles “Chuck” Larson. The two were known as the “odd couple” due to McCain’s disregard for rules that placed him near the bottom of his graduating class and Larson’s star student status.
Arizona Senator John McCain Funeral Plan:
* Lie in State in Arizona
* Lie in State at U.S. Capitol
* Memorial Service at National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.
* Burial at U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD pic.twitter.com/dkInlGWwtX
— Arizona News (@ArizonaNewsnet) August 26, 2018
Larson flew missions in Vietnam, served as Naval Aide to Richard Nixon, and served twice as Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy. McCain lived through two near-death experiences and five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and eventually entered the world of politics. They were friends throughout their lives and will lie next to each other in death as John McCain requested that he be buried next to Chuck Larson.
Naval Lieutenant Raymond Dennis spoke of the extent of familiarity of so many in Annapolis with every part of McCain’s life. He expressed his thoughts on the location of his final resting place.
“It’s really only fitting. He’s so loved here and celebrated. I mean, he was a prisoner of war, tortured for five years, then continued to serve our nation. This is his home and where he should spend eternity.”
Dennis spoke of the practice of so many at Annapolis of walking through the cemetery to remember heroes who have passed.
“It’s a way for them to connect with the past. I’m sure everyone here will want to maintain that closeness with McCain and his legacy.”
NBC News described that legacy as being “about a trait, more than any individual cause, that was larger than himself and is in perilously short supply in American politics right now: honor.” That is a sentiment that seems to be held by people all across the political spectrum. It’s a character trait that John McCain exhibited in dealing with people of all political views, including the time a woman at a Pennsylvania rally attacked Barack Obama as someone she couldn’t trust because “he’s an Arab.”
McCain responded to the remark about his political rival by saying, “No ma’am. He’s a decent family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.” He concluded by saying, “I want everyone to be respectful, and let’s make sure we are. Because that’s the way politics should be conducted in America.”