WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) today delivered remarks on the Senate floor to honor and pay tribute to Senator John McCain.
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Full transcript of Sen. Moran’s remarks:
“Mr. President, I join my colleagues today in tribute to our colleague, Senator John McCain of Arizona. You know, we look for heroes in this world. It seems to me we're always looking in the wrong places and we look at baseball diamonds and basketball courts and amp theaters of stadiums and where performers sing. We fail to look in the right places.
“Sometimes we're with heroes and we don't always recognize it at the moment. But there is no American I know that is more deserving of the title ‘hero’ than John McCain. Those who serve us in the military, they are entitled to that honorific, and those who serve our veterans, they're heroes, too. Senator McCain lived a life in which heroics were part of every day.
“I first met John McCain in 1996 in Hays, Kansas, my hometown. Senator Bob Dole, then a candidate for president of the United States, would fly into the airport in Hays near his hometown of Russell. This time he had a guest with him, John McCain, who was his campaign chairman in his presidential campaign. I watched the two of them interact and it's really the first time I had the opportunity to see a senator, perhaps other than my own two from Kansas. Senator Dole had the greatest regard for Senator McCain. Senator Dole wore the P.O.W. bracelet never having known John McCain when he was a P.O.W. But by happenstance chose to wear a bracelet in honor of and respect for, being concerned about a P.O.W. in Vietnam. And they learned on the Senate floor John McCain – John McCain learned on the Senate floor that Bob Dole wore it his throughout much of his captivity.
“I respect and honor Senator Dole and I saw that day the respect and honor he had for a fellow senator, a fellow serviceman, a fellow veteran, both Senator Dole and Senator McCain whose lives were dramatically affected by their service to our nation. Quite frankly, when I arrived in the United States Senate, I was intimidated by Senator McCain. He was vitriolic. He had the opportunity, he had the habit of exploding at a moment's notice, something could set him off, something he cared passionately about could cause him to react.
“And in my early days as a new United States Senator, I didn't seek the companionship of John McCain. That was a mistake on my part because despite his prickly nature, knowing John McCain became one of the most valuable experiences I've had in the Senate. We began working together on one of those issues that John McCain and no one else in the United States Senate could have the stature to deal with. Certainly our military men and women, the defense of our nation, but we bonded in our efforts to see that the veterans of our nation receive the care that they deserve, that they receive their benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs that they are entitled to, and that they earn through their service to our nation. That work, a McCain-Moran bill, became a significant part of the VA MISSION Act, and I learned in that experience the dedication that Senator McCain has to those who have served. To make sure that mistakes made at the Department of Veterans Affairs – that may have cost veterans their lives – never happen again. Initially that resulted in the VA Choice Act. And just recently passed by the House, passed by the Senate, signed by the president, legislation that we named in honor of John McCain, the VA MISSION Act, which replaces and improves the Choice Act.
“In that experience in working with Senator McCain on behalf of America’s veterans, I also got acquainted with Senator McCain’s staff. And I think it’s probably true that we can learn a lot about our colleagues by the people they surround themselves with and the way that a senator treats his or her staff member – and perhaps, even more importantly, the way that staff, those individuals who work for a United States Senator, treat their boss. And what I saw from those who work for Senator McCain was abiding respect, love and care, and compassion for United States Senator John McCain. Told me a lot about his staff, but told me even more about the person and character of Senator McCain.
“I also discovered in my time working in the Senate with John McCain his abiding love for the people of Arizona. Senator McCain could be a national figure – was a national figure – but could be only a national figure if he desired. He had the stature to be a person that was known not only in the state he represented, but in the nation and around the world. And while Senator McCain represented the United States well, here in the United States Senate and in countries around the globe, you could tell that Senator McCain cared and loved the people he represented at home. He respected them. He recognized that they were the ones that gave him the opportunity to perform on a national stage, and he never forgot Arizonians.
“I appreciate the way that he and Senator Flake, his junior colleague from Arizona, worked together on behalf of the citizens of his state. So while it would’ve been easy for John to play only the national figure, he never forgot from where he came.
“And while much of my comments today have paid my respects to Senator McCain for his service in the United States Senate, it is his service in the military, in the Navy, that is most compelling to me. I’ve known this story throughout my life, and it’s been reported and repeated here on the Senate floor, but I do not know a person who, as a prisoner of war, given the opportunity to be released, and to return home to family and loved ones, I do not know a person who would say no. I do not know a person other than John McCain who would say ‘no, it’s not my turn.’ ‘No, there are others who are prisoners of war who are more deserving and in fact, on the list ahead of me to be released.’
“What an honor to know a person who puts others so much ahead of himself. To know someone who, because of his love of country and love of those who served, and his sense of responsibility and obligation to those he served with, and who were prisoners of war with him, that he had the character, the values, to say ‘no, it’s not my turn.’ I wish I knew people, I wish I was one of those. And so today, I certainly honor Senator McCain for his status and service as a senator, but I admire and respect him for his service to the nation, his service in the Navy and his care and compassion for those he served with.
“John McCain led a full and meaningful life. He instructed us numerous times about our behavior here in the United States Senate. He asked us, as Americans, to behave differently. He asked our country to come together.
“We desperately need the opportunity for Americans to see what they’re seeing on the Unites States Senate floor this week, where both republicans and democrats are honoring the life and service of John McCain. We need to answer his call. We need to honor his request to make certain the work we perform is done for all Americans. John McCain was a republican, but much more so, he was an American. He reminds me of what I see on the monuments and memorials on the Nation’s Mall when I make my trek up to the Lincoln Memorial and past the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Wall and the Korean War Memorial.
“No one memorialized there fought, died, sacrificed or served for republicans or democrats. John McCain and those we memorialize recognize a higher calling. If we could do something that would alter our behavior in respect to John McCain, what a difference we might make in the country. And if Americans can use this moment to pull together, our country will be better.
“John McCain led a full and meaningful life. I admired him, I respected him, and I loved him. Senator McCain, thank you for your service to our nation – it is a grateful nation.
‘Eternal father strong to save, whose arms hath bound the restless wave’ – the Navy Hymn. May John McCain rest in peace.”