MY AMERICAN HERO ~
One of the reasons why I’m the patriot I am, as well as something that made an impact on my life resulting as one of the reasons why I joined the US Marine Corps, is when I was a child in 1970, at the age of 10 during the Vietnam “conflict”, I proudly wore a POW bracelet … one that I personally chose because the date captured was closest to my birthday on Oct. 6th. It said, “LCDR JOHN S. McCAIN III 10-26-67”.
I wore it without EVER taking it off, no matter what … even when I bathed! I wore it snug to my wrist, always. It was my commitment of remembrance to the stranger’s name I wore; as long as he was suffering as a POW. As a child, it was all I could do to help; let others know not to forget those left behind. I prayed for his safe return everyday.
Hearing that President Nixon ended the war, I remember my excitement watching the news & reading the paper daily enjoying the stories of all the POW’s coming home, always in hope anticipating to hear about “my” POW solider.
Much to my surprise, on March 15th, 1973, a month into the release of prisoners, I heard the TV news reporter state the name I had prayed to hear, “Lt Cmdr John S. Mc Cain III”, as I sat in awe, elated with goose bumps & tears, I watched an American hero, “my” POW, hobble down the steps of a plane coming home embracing his family.
The following day, the local paper, the San Diego Union Tribune, celebrated that proud American moment of him disembarking the plane with a front-page story & photo! I was so proud … so proud of him to have endured & so proud to be an American! Little did I know how famous my American Hero was … from that day on, I searched, clipped & saved every article written about Lt Cmdr John S. Mc Cain III!
A few months later, my mother brought home a magazine featuring him on the cover! I couldn’t believe the story … oh, how he suffered! I was amazed who he was, the son of a respected military father … he was famous, the most famous of all POW’s! I was so touched that I personally wanted to thank him for his service & dedication to our country, as well as let him know I cared & that he was never forgotten.
I wrote him a letter & gathered every bit of memorabilia I had on him … the U.S. News & World Report magazine, every other newspaper & magazine clipping, including my POW bracelet. I stuffed it all in a manila envelope hoping to find an address. Hearing he returned home to Florida, I remember calling information asking for a John S. McCain … BINGO, I got an address! I was so excited & sent the package … a big thank you sent all the way across the county to Florida from a little 12-year-old girl in San Diego, California, all in hopes that it would reach him.
Weeks went by, months, even years … I never heard from him, or another word about him until 9 years later in November 1982 when I was serving in the USMC & heard that John S. McCain won a Republican congressional seat for the state of Arizona! I was so proud of him running for office … serving our country again! I was reminded of how proud he made me feel as a child.
For many years I considered to write him but was never sure what to say other than just, “thank you” … to thank him for his bravery & touching the heart of a child at such a struggling time in our country reminding him, I never forgot.
Now, here he is running for the President of the United States of America! I get goose bumps & tears in my eyes over how beautiful & touching his story is … from horrific suffering to American Hero! 35 years later, I’m still deeply touched by his commitment to this fine country & still can’t get over what he suffered in the name of patriotism.
Semper Fi ~