The other day I read somewhere on a blog that it is possible the younger group, kids not old enough to vote, look at the world much differently than their older college going siblings with their newly washed brains. Because the teen set is so completely into their game systems and saving the universe, they have a tendency to look for heroes. They live super-heroes in their comics, movies, television and game systems. They are also rather affected by the whole 9/11 trauma.

It makes sense. My 18 year old niece looks at the world much differently than her idealistic 23 year old sister. From what I gather there is no way the 18 year old is going to vote for Barack Obama and no way the 23 year old would vote for John McCain. While they are siblings, having both been home-schooled, they have a different view of the world.

Maybe it does go back to 9/11. I remember that Thanksgiving, there in Memphis. The Sunday following Thanksgiving saw an outbreak of thunderstorms that brought with it tornado warnings and the usual Memphis sirens. I was using one of the girls’ bedrooms. They were both sleeping in the other’s room. It was maybe 3AM or so. The moment the sirens went off, the younger one panicked. I remember hearing her run down the stairs to her parents room, crying, “Are the terrorists bombing us??

When a kid is 10 years old, that makes a huge difference in the way they look at the world. Her sister, 4 years older, assured her it was just the tornado warnings. Can you imagine – just a tornado warning siren?

I have a feeling my 18 year old niece is part of that generation who is looking for a hero. They really don’t remember life before 9/11 and the war on terror. Are they looking for heroes? If one considers their entertainment and the ‘games’ they play, it is rather obvious that they are.

And this is where John McCain fits into the picture. We need heroes today more than ever. In many ways this election is as clear and divisive as the one in 1972. The same anti-war, anti-military, Marxist forces are afoot. We need a straight talking hero, not a double talker.

I read a portion of this the other day. I was in complete awe. This is greatness.

From Wikipedia: Early life and military career of John McCain
“…On October 26, 1967, McCain was flying his twenty-third mission, part of a twenty-plane attack against the Yen Phu thermal power plant in central Hanoi[85][86] that had almost always been off-limits to U.S. raids. As he neared the target, warning systems in McCain’s A-4E Skyhawk told him he was in danger from enemy fire. He held his dive until he released his bombs at about 3,500 feet (1,000 meters) (he would be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for this day). As he started to pull up, the Skyhawk’s wing was blown off by a Soviet-made SA-2 anti-aircraft missile fired by the North Vietnamese Air Defense Command’s 61st Battalion.

McCain’s plane went into a vertical inverted spin. Bailing out upside down at high speed, the force of the ejection fractured McCain’s right arm in three places, his left arm, and his right leg, and knocked him unconscious. McCain nearly drowned after his parachute dropped him into Trúc Bạch Lake in Hanoi. Some Vietnamese pulled him ashore. After he regained consciousness, a mob gathered around, spat on him, kicked him, and stripped him of his clothes; others crushed his left shoulder with the butt of a rifle and bayoneted him in his left foot and abdominal area. He was then transported to Hanoi’s main Hoa Lo Prison, nicknamed the “Hanoi Hilton” by American POWs.

McCain reached Hoa Lo in the worst physical shape of any prisoner during the war. His captors refused to give him medical care unless he gave them military information; they beat and interrogated him, but McCain only offered his name, rank, serial number, and date of birth (all that is required under the Geneva Conventions). Soon thinking he was near death, McCain said he would give them more information if taken to the hospital, hoping he could then put them off once he was treated. A prison doctor came and said it was too late, as McCain was about to die anyway.

Only when the North Vietnamese discovered that his father was a top admiral did they give him medical care — calling him “the crown prince” — and announce his capture. At this point, two days after McCain’s plane went down, that event and his status as a POW made the front pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Interrogation and beatings resumed in the hospital; McCain gave his ship’s name, squadron’s name, and the attack’s intended target (disclosing this information was in violation of the U.S. Code of Conduct, which McCain later wrote he regretted, although he saw the information as being of no practical use to the North Vietnamese). Further coerced to give future targets, he named cities that had already been bombed, and responding to demands for the names of his squadron members, he supplied instead the names of the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line.

McCain spent six weeks in the hospital, receiving marginal care in a dirty, wet environment. A prolonged attempt to set the fractures on his right arm, done without anesthetic, was unsuccessful; he received an operation on his broken leg but no treatment for his broken left arm. He was temporarily taken to a clean room and interviewed by a French television reporter whose report was carried months later on CBS. McCain was observed by a variety of North Vietnamese, including Defense Minister and Army commander-in-chief General Vo Nguyen Giap.

Many of the North Vietnamese observers assumed that McCain must be part of America’s political-military-economic elite. Now having lost fifty pounds (twenty-three kilograms), in a chest cast, covered in grime and eyes full of fever, and with his hair turned white, in December 1967 McCain was sent to a prisoner-of-war camp on the outskirts of Hanoi nicknamed “the Plantation”. He was placed in a cell with two other Americans (one was George “Bud” Day, an Air Force pilot and future Medal of Honor recipient), who did not expect him to live a week They nursed McCain and kept him alive; Day would later remember that McCain had “a fantastic will to live.”

In March 1968, McCain was put into solitary confinement, where he would remain for two years. Unknown to the POWs, in May 1968, Jack McCain was named Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Command (CINCPAC) effective in July, stationed in Honolulu and commander of all U.S. forces in the Vietnam theater. John McCain was soon offered a chance to return home early. The North Vietnamese wanted a worldwide propaganda coup by appearing merciful, and also wanted to show other POWs that elites like McCain were willing to be treated preferentially.

McCain turned down the offer of release, due to the POWs’ “first in, first out” interpretation of the U.S. Code of Conduct: he would only accept the offer if every man taken in before him was released as well. McCain’s refusal to be released was even remarked upon by North Vietnamese senior negotiator Le Duc Tho to U.S. envoy Averell Harriman, during the ongoing Paris Peace Talks.

In August 1968, a program of vigorous torture methods began on McCain. The North Vietnamese used rope bindings to put him into prolonged, painful positions and severely beat him every two hours, all at the same time as he was suffering from dysentery. Teeth and bones were broken again, as was McCain’s spirit; the beginning of a suicide attempt was stopped by guards.

After four days of this, McCain signed and taped an anti-American propaganda “confession” that said, in part, “I am a black criminal and I have performed the deeds of an air pirate. I almost died, and the Vietnamese people saved my life, thanks to the doctors.” He used stilted Communist jargon and ungrammatical language to signal that the statement was forced. He felt then and always that he had dishonored his country, his family, his comrades and himself by his statement, but as he would later write, “I had learned what we all learned over there: Every man has his breaking point. I had reached mine.”

His injuries to this day have left him incapable of raising his arms above his head. Two weeks later his captors tried to force him to sign a second statement; his will to resist restored, he refused. He sometimes received two to three beatings per week because of his continued refusal; the sustained mistreatment went on for over a year. His boxing experience from his Naval Academy days helped him withstand the battering, and the North Vietnamese were never able to break him again.

Other American POWs were similarly tortured and maltreated in order to extract “confessions” and propaganda statements, with many enduring even worse treatment than McCain.Under extreme duress, virtually all the POWs eventually yielded something to their captors. On one occasion, a guard surreptitiously loosened McCain’s painful rope bindings for a night; when, months later, the guard later saw McCain on Christmas Day, he stood next to McCain and silently drew a cross in the dirt with his foot.

In October 1968, McCain’s isolation was partly relieved when Ernest C. Brace was placed in the cell next to him; he taught Brace the prisoners’ tap code method of communication. On Christmas Eve 1968, a church service for the POWs was staged for photographers and film cameras; McCain defied North Vietnamese instructions to be quiet, speaking out details of his treatment then shouting “F…you, you son of a bitch!” and giving the finger whenever a camera was pointed at him.

McCain refused to meet with various anti-Vietnam War peace groups coming to Hanoi, such as those led by David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, and Rennie Davis, not wanting to give either them or the North Vietnamese a propaganda victory based on his connection to his father. McCain was still badly hobbled by his injuries, earning the nickname “Crip” among the other POWs, but despite his physical condition, continued beatings and isolation, he was one of the key players in the Plantation’s resistance efforts.

In May 1969, U.S. Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird began publicly questioning North Vietnamese treatment of U.S. prisoners. On June 5, 1969, a United Press International report described a Radio Hanoi broadcast that denied any such mistreatment. The broadcast excerpted from McCain’s forced “confession” of a year before, including a statement where he said he had bombed “cities, towns and villages” and had received “very good medical treatment” as a prisoner. In late 1969, treatment of McCain and the other POWs suddenly improved. North Vietnamese ruler Ho Chi Minh had died the previous month, causing a possible change in policy towards POWs.

A badly beaten and weakened POW who had been released that summer disclosed to the world press the conditions to which they were being subjected, and the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia, including McCain’s brother Joe, heightened awareness of the POWs’ plight. In December 1969, McCain was transferred back to the Hoa Lo “Hanoi Hilton”; his solitary confinement ended in March 1970. When the prisoners talked about what they wanted to do once they got out, McCain said he wanted to become President.

McCain consented to a January 1970 interview outside Hoa Lo with Spanish-born, Cuban psychologist Fernando Barral, that was published in the official Cuban newspaper Granma. In it, McCain talked about his life and expressed no remorse for his actions in bombing North Vietnam, and Barral proclaimed him “an insensitive individual without human depth.” The POWs issued an edict forbidding any further such interviews, and despite pressure McCain subsequently refused to see any anti-war groups or journalists sympathetic to the North Vietnamese regime.

McCain and other prisoners were moved around to different camps at times, but conditions over the next several years were generally more tolerable than they had been before. Unbeknownst to them, each year that Jack McCain was CINCPAC, he paid a Christmastime visit to the American troops in South Vietnam serving closest to the DMZ; he would stand alone and look north, to be as close to his son as he could get.

By 1971, some 30–50 percent of the POWs had become disillusioned about the war and less reluctant to make propaganda statements for the North Vietnamese. McCain was not among them; he participated in a defiant church service and lead an effort to only write letters home that portrayed the camp in a negative light; he spent much of the year in a camp reserved for “bad attitude” cases. Back at the “Hanoi Hilton” from November 1971 onward, McCain and the other POWs cheered the resumed bombing of the north starting in April 1972, whose targets included the Hanoi area and whose daily orders were issued by Jack McCain, knowing his son was in the vicinity.

Jack McCain’s tour as CINCPAC ended in September 1972, despite his desire to have it extended so he could see the war to its conclusion. The POWs cheered even more during the intense “Christmas Bombing” campaign of December 1972, when Hanoi was subjected for the first time to repeated B-52 raids. Although its explosions lit the night sky and shook the walls of the camp, the POWs saw it as a forceful measure to compel North Vietnam to finally come to terms.

Altogether, McCain was held as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for five and a half years. The Paris Peace Accords were signed on January 27, 1973, ending direct U.S. involvement in the war, but the Operation Homecoming arrangements for POWs took longer. McCain was finally released from captivity on March 14, 1973, having been a POW for almost an extra five years due to his refusal to accept the out-of-sequence repatriation offer. For his actions as a POW, McCain would be awarded the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, three more instances of the Bronze Star, another instance of the Navy Commendation Medal, and the Purple Heart …?

While I was growing up, I don’t remember a day when my family did not remember the brave men who were being held captive in North Vietnam in prayer. As soon as they were available we all wore our POW bracelets. I wanted someone from the Air Force. I wanted a pilot. The only one available at Fant’s Camera Store in Anderson, SC was a pilot named “Bud” Day. I remember praying for him on a daily basis. I also remember praying for those who were being held with him. Little did I know I was praying for the man we all hope will be the 44th President of the United States of America.


McCain’s Heroic Service – Video