As the flags fly at half-staff across Maryland for Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican is being remembered warmly for his bravery in service, his honesty and integrity in politics and his support for Israel and the Jewish people.
A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, McCain was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982 and served in the Senate since his election to that seat in 1986. He died Aug. 25 of brain cancer at his family ranch in Sedona, Arizona. He was 81.
“Sen. John McCain will forever remain one of the most valiant heroes our country has ever known. He has long stood as a shining example of doing the right thing and standing up for his principles even — and especially — when the going gets tough,” said Gov. Larry Hogan in a statement. “All of us join Sen. McCain’s family and colleagues in taking pride in his legacy of selfless service, grit and determination. A grateful nation will be forever in his debt.”
Baltimorean Frank Storch has a fond memory of McCain from a chance meeting and photograph at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., in May 2017, when Storch was attending a ballgame with business associates.
“I picked up food at the kosher stand and met them at the Delta Club section of the park. Sitting right next to us was Sen. John McCain,” said Storch, director of The Chesed Fund Limited and Project Ezra of Greater Baltimore. “Knowing he was a respected American war hero as well as a staunch supporter of Israel and the Jewish people, I spoke to him for several minutes and thanked him for his lifetime of devotion and dedication to others.
“As he left the Delta Club area, he joined a number of naval midshipmen and sang the national anthem. I was fortunate enough to be right there at the best spot to capture the moment.”
Two months later, in July 2017, McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer.
“Sadly, we have lost a truly great American politician and friend of Israel,” Storch said on Monday.
That sentiment was echoed by McCain’s colleagues, Maryland Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin and Chris Van Hollen.
“John McCain was an honorable public servant who sacrificed greatly to serve his country in uniform and as a lawmaker proudly representing the people of Arizona. His death is a great loss for this country, his state and, above all, his family and friends,” Cardin said in a statement. “For nearly a dozen years in the United States Senate, Sen. McCain has been my friend and my enduring partner in standing up for universal human rights and advancing other core American values. The Sergei and Global Magnitsky laws would not have been possible without our genuine bipartisan resolve to change the course of human rights accountability for the worst rights abusers in Russia and worldwide.”
Sadly, we have lost a truly great American politician and friend of Israel — Frank Storch, director of The Chesed Fund Limited and Project Ezra of Greater Baltimore
Van Hollen’s statement was similarly laudatory.
“Sen. John McCain was a statesman, a veteran and an American hero. His passion and determination were unsurpassed in the U.S. Senate, and his moral compass was unfailing,” Van Hollen said. “The loss of Sen. McCain will be felt deeply throughout the Senate and the country — where countless Americans have benefited from his service.”
The relationship most emblematic of his dedication to national security and bipartisanship was his close friendship with Joseph Lieberman, the Jewish senator from Connecticut. McCain was considered a hero of the Jewish and pro- Israel communities.
“To lose as titanic a warrior and statesman as John McCain at any time is cause for national sorrow,” said the American Jewish Congress in a statement. “As Jews and as Americans, we are filled with sadness at the loss of this implacable ally of the Jewish people and Israel who served as the epitome of American patriotism.”
“A passionate advocate for American global leadership, Senator McCain rightly bemoaned those who favored a U.S. pullback from world affairs,” David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, said in a statement.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee called McCain “an extraordinarily courageous defender of liberty.
“Throughout his congressional career Sen. McCain stood with Israel because throughout his life he stood up for America’s allies and our shared democratic values,” its statement said.
McCain’s willingness to reach across the aisle even to liberal Democrats, which likely kept some conservatives away from the polls, extended to the Jewish community, where he worked with human rights activists.
In its statement mourning McCain, the Jewish Democratic Council of America noted that he “rose above politics and represented his values.”
A statement from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said McCain was a statesman and hero whose record of service was “a tribute to patriotism and highly principled leadership.”
“Amongst his many virtues were his strong support of the State of Israel, especially related to its security, and his dedication to strengthening the special U.S.-Israel relationship,” the conference said. “He was a steadfast advocate for a strong response against Iran’s aggression and nuclear aspirations. His presence within the halls of the Senate and his strong voice for justice and freedom throughout the world will be sorely missed. May his memory be a blessing for his family, our country and all who share his values.”