In the world we live in, the mainstream heroes are many times spotlight-seeking, attention-craving artists, athletes and actors.
However, at one point in time our heroes were the men and women who stood up for what was right in this country and did what they were called on to do.
People forget the men and women who went above and beyond what was expected of them. These men and women should not be viewed only through the lens of their political ideology or their position on a current issue. They should be regarded for what they have done in a time they were needed for the greater cause.
John McCain is one such hero people should honor whether they agree with his political opinions or not. McCain has spent many years in Washington, D.C., as a U.S. senator, but that is not the reason he should be honored as a hero.
Before McCain decided he would go into politics, he joined the U.S. Navy. McCain graduated from the Naval Academy in the class of 1958 and went on to fly a Navy bomber. While in the service, McCain was sent to Vietnam to fly his plane and bomb the enemy.
On the 23rd mission he was sent on, McCain was shot down and captured by the North Vietnamese. Within the first few minutes of being captured, McCain was beaten and stabbed before being sent of to the main prison in Hanoi – this was just the beginning of his mistreatment.
While in prison, McCain was told he would not be given medical attention for the injuries, including a broken arm and leg, he sustained in the crash unless he would give up military information. Through the pain and possibility of dying, McCain refused to betray his country.
It was not until the Vietnamese realized that he was the son of an U.S. Navy admiral that they treated his wounds. In return for the treatment, McCain was told he would need to make a propaganda film for the North Vietnamese in which he would explain how well he was being treated and that he hoped the war would end soon.
Rather than betray his country, McCain bravely refused and went on to have surgery on his broken leg. After his eventual recovery, McCain was put into solitary confinement for two years.
McCain spent another 3½ years in prison. While there, he endured beatings and humiliating acts against him. McCain was poorly fed and nearly starved to death. Although McCain was given the chance for release he refused to take it, because there were other prisoners of war who had been held longer than him.
McCain could have taken the easy way out and returned home to the states to have his injuries properly cared for. However, because he knew the right thing to do was to stay a POW, he did just that. McCain should be honored for the actions he took to be the great soldier he was.
Cunningham is a junior at Richmond Hill High School and a member of the Young Republicans Club.