It’s ironic, in my opinion, that the full measure of a man or woman is brought to life when that individual passes, and such is the case with the passing of U.S. Sen. John McCain over the weekend.

Sen. McCain died Saturday at his ranch near Sedona, Arizona, from complications resulting from a brain tumor.

Most of us are familiar with McCain’s service to his nation, a long list beginning with his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy.

A U.S. Navy pilot, he spent more than five years at a North Vietnam prison camp, known as the “Hanoi Hilton,” after being shot down, and he later served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona from 1983-1987.

He served in the United States Senate from 1987 until his death, and he was known as someone who said what he meant and meant what he said, in so many words.

Although a Republican, many of us thought at times McCain was a Republican in name only, becoming in the words of many political pundits, a “maverick.”

McCain, representing a state bordering Mexico with a significant Hispanic population, supported liberalized immigration laws, and he also clashed with his party over his support of campaign finance reform.

McCain was among three Republicans who voted “no” in a GOP effort to replace the Affordable Care Act in 2017.

A military veteran and prisoner of war who was tortured for more than five years, McCain voiced his support of NFL players and other athletes who take a knee in protest during the playing of the National Anthem at sporting events across the nation.

“That’s their right to do what they want as citizens,” McCain was quoted as saying.

That doesn’t sound like a man who was known as a “hawk” in military matters and foreign policy, but, in my opinion, politics don’t make the man.

Politicians from both sides of the aisle, along with leaders throughout the world, have issued statements honoring McCain, including Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.

According to news reports, McCain requested before his death that Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush deliver eulogies at a service for him at the National Cathedral.

Former Vice-President Joe Biden will speak at a separate service honoring the senator in Arizona.

According to other news reports, White House officials have said that McCain’s family has requested President Donald Trump not attend funeral services for McCain.

Instead, Vice-President Mike Pence is expected to attend funeral services for McCain.

Agree with him or not, like him or not, you tend to respect someone who is not afraid to express himself or herself, whether a politician or average citizen.

I also respect a politician who argues issues, not personalities, and someone who recognizes that there are more things that unite us, rather than separate us.

McCain found himself in a unique position to talk about issues pertaining to horrible situations we never hope to find ourselves, our loved ones or neighbors involved in.

He did so with a dignity that we can only hope to emulate.

Doug Ford reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at

Doug Ford covers news and sports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at