As I sat in a cafe reading in the New York Times that Arizona Senator, John McCain, is suffering from aggressive brain cancer, I began to cry.
A teenage boy seated near me asked what was wrong.
My first impulse was to just say, oh it’s nothing, but then thought I’d explain why a man I’ve never met could bring out such emotion in me.
“I’m crying for a hero,” I said, “a man who’s earned all our tears for his incredible bravery during the Vietnam War…
McCain was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for five and a half years. He was kept in solitary confinement for two of those years after being tortured, beaten and interrogated every two hours. He lost 50 pounds, was in a chest cast, his gray hair turning as white as snow. His wartime injuries left him permanently incapable of raising his arms above his head.
When the North Vietnamese first agreed to release him, Lieutenant John S. McCain wouldn’t go, refusing to leave his men, fearing for what would happen to them without him.
He finally went home on March 14, 1973.
HE WOULDN’T LEAVE HIS MEN.
I can’t say enough how that moves me.”
The kid listened like I was a storyteller merely passing the time with a good yarn, but then said, “I didn’t know any of that. How come they don’t teach you that in school?”
“Good question,” I said, accepting the napkin he offered to dry my tears.
“Do you think he’s gonna make it?”