He not only survived; he thrived.

"The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it."

-Ernest Hemingway; For Whom the Bell Tolls

Hero; a person who consistently acts courageously and is noble of thought and character. He/she has acquired the honorable and self-sacrificing behaviors of beneficence, empathy, and fortitude by engaging and practicing these deeds regularly. They are part of one's personal infrastructure. Courageous thoughts and behaviors become instinctive, intrinsic to their everyday life guiding every decision and action. There may be natural born heroes but I think most achieve these special abilities and status by using crises, challenges, trials and errors to provoke and strengthen their ability to survive, overcome and grow. Senator John McCain did just that. Enduring incredible physical, emotional and spiritual pain and despair - he survived. Hero; a person who consistently acts courageously and is noble of thought and character. He/she has acquired the honorable and self-sacrificing behaviors of beneficence, empathy, and fortitude by engaging and practicing these deeds regularly. They are part of one's personal infrastructure. Courageous thoughts and behaviors become instinctive, intrinsic to their everyday life guiding every decision and action. There may be natural born heroes but I think most achieve these special abilities and status by using crises, challenges, trials and errors to provoke and strengthen their ability to survive, overcome and grow. Senator John McCain did just that. Enduring incredible physical, emotional and spiritual pain and despair - he survived. And as with the message of Metahab, he not only survived but he thrived. Not in spite of his trauma but as a direct result of it.

The word 'hero' is used so nonchalantly today.  There is a difference between a heroic act and a hero. Senator McCain is a HERO and his story is an example for us all with identifiable poignant aspects and valuable lessons. He was brave but also flawed. As he said, "I have been tested on a number of occasions. I haven't always done the right thing, and I think I understand given my family's history and given my experiences, the important thing is not to look back and think about all the things I should have done ...but to look back with gratitude." He learned from his errors and used his imperfections and admitted mistakes to grow and improve. He experienced life's beauty and brutality and recognizing that, his is a story about

possibilities. Identifying possibilities means you have a chance, an opportunity for a future. He modeled the way for that future providing a mindset that revealed hope is the correct response to suffering, even though there is terrible and tremendous loss. He was determined, and over time found a way out of the depths of his fear and misery using his Vietnam experience for growth and insight. He focused less on what cruel circumstances took from him and recognized what they gave. He accepted, moved on and found ways to give back to his family and the country he loved. His favorite book was; For Whom The Bell Tolls. He was 12 years old when he first read it and it became his corner stone and guiding principle throughout his life, "nothing is better than the story of someone who sacrifices for causes greater than themselves".

Finally, the bell tolls - death comes for us all and thus our focus must be on how we choose to live. "I think all of us think about death, but I think more about life." He lived life to its fullest, recognizing hope in the midst of despair, embracing the goodness of others, forgiving the flaws, accepting and handling mistakes honorably, moving forward and always finding ways to serve.

Thank you for your service Senator John McCain, 

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