HF Statement on the Passing of Senator John McCain

Hispanic Federation President José Calderón has issued the following statement on the passing of Senator John McCain.

The United States lost one of her finest sons last night. Sen. John McCain’s death as a result of brain cancer brought to an end a life defined by service to our nation. From his days as a Navy Airman in the Vietnam War through his more than three decades of service in the United States Senate, John McCain gave his body and mind to the Republic and provided an example of selflessness and sacrifice that we may never see again.

Senator McCain’s legacy is a complicated one and reflects a man who was difficult to pigeonhole. Our community owes him a debt of gratitude for his decisive vote to protect the Affordable Care Act last year. And his work on behalf of immigrants as a member of the Gang of Eight, showed that there was a workable road toward immigration reform for those who were motivated more by problem-solving than partisanship. At other times, we were on opposite sides of issues--such as his support for the most recent Republican tax plan. Yet, while Hispanic Federation and I may have found ourselves at odds with Sen. McCain’s policy preferences, those disagreements were in the spirit of respectful tension that should define our nation and all too often does not.

I had the pleasure of running into Sen. McCain in 2009 during the inauguration of President Obama. I remarked to him then that I was surprised to see him walking amongst the throngs of people who had gathered to celebrate the election of our nation’s first African-American president. He turned to me and said, “today is a day to celebrate our democracy.” At that moment, the image of McCain laying broken in a North Vietnamese hospital came to mind. Whether as a prisoner of war or a defeated presidential candidate, John McCain was a patriot.

Before his death, Sen. McCain noted that his was a “happy life lived in imperfect service to a country made of ideals, whose continued service is the hope of the world.” Let us honor his legacy by committing ourselves to “imperfect service” on behalf of the nation he, and we, love so much.