US Senator John McCain: A friend of the Philippines

Photo via ABCNews

BABE’S EYE VIEW FROM WASHINGTON D.C. – Babe Romualdez/The Philippine Star – The remains of US Senator John McCain lay in state at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Friday – an honor given to only a few statesmen requiring a resolution of Congress. The practice started in 1852 with only 30 other people since then who have lain in state at the Capitol, with the last one being Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye in 2012. On Saturday, Senator McCain was brought to the Washington National Cathedral – the “spiritual home” of America where state funerals and memorial services for occasions of national significance are held.

I was honored to represent our country at the funeral services at the US Capitol and also at the National Cathedral where eulogies were delivered by former US presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, and notable Americans like former State Secretary Henry Kissinger.

From Arizona where a memorial service at the State Capitol in Phoenix was held and then on to Washington, D.C., it was amazing to witness thousands of Americans showing up to pay their last respects to the longtime Arizona senator who succumbed to brain cancer last August 25. But millions more are mourning the loss of this real-life Vietnam War hero whose story of courage, sacrifice and principled leadership has earned him the esteem and admiration of people across many nations.

He was born into a family of patriots who served in the US military. His grandfather, John “Slew” McCain Sr. and father, John “Jack” McCain Jr. were both 4-star admirals – the first father and son to have achieved such distinction. Slew McCain served in the Pacific Theater during World War II, seeing action in Guadalcanal and directing the US campaign during the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the Battle of Okinawa, causing tremendous destruction against Japanese forces.

Last May, I visited the US Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii for a high-level meeting, and one of the things pointed out to me when we went to the Admiral’s landing area before we proceeded to the USS Arizona Memorial were several photos. One of them showed the formal surrender of Japan on board USS Missouri with General Douglas McArthur and Vice Admiral John McCain Sr. who was not feeling well at the time, but made sure he was present to witness that historic moment.

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