Thank you, John McCain, for sharing your full and rich life

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Last year, we heard the terrible news of Sen. John McCain’s terminal diagnosis. Last week, we heard he made the decision to end treatment, to go out on his terms. And this weekend, we learned that we lost him. After all of this time to steel ourselves, and for John to make the most of his time — which he certainly did — we are still heartbroken at the reality that our country has lost one of its all-time great patriots, that our Senate has lost a voice of reason.

And I have lost a friend.

{mosads}I met John right after the suspension of his 2000 presidential campaign. It was my honor to fight alongside him on his campaign for president in 2008. I was in awe of his tenacity, and his love for the battle — as he would say, “A fight not joined was a fight not enjoyed.”

Much has been said in the past few days about the decency and honor John showed when, in an intense battle for the presidency, he stopped his own supporters if they leveled a personal insult or falsehood against his opponent. He wouldn’t let it go, and he never wavered. As someone who since has experienced a presidential campaign, I look back at that with a greater admiration for the unbending principle he showed against a current of political pettiness and crowds of dog whistles.

For many, that wouldn’t be easy. For John, it was simply a natural reflex of courage and character.

You see, courage and character are inextricably linked. They are the vital traits of an effective and positive leader. That was John McCain. A man of principle, a man of character, and a man who put his country above all else.

You don’t need to agree with Sen. McCain to recognize that he was a man of decency and civic virtue, a man who always faithfully believed in — and served — a cause greater than himself.

He was fun, funny, often irreverent and endlessly entertaining. He was a role model, and the world is always in desperate need of genuine heroes and role models. I am deeply grateful that he always will be one of mine.

Perhaps Mark Salter, John’s dear friend and collaborator, said it best: “He was restless and enthusiastic, quick and quick-tempered. He could be impetuous and cantankerous. He was defiant in defeat, and sometimes in victory, too. He didn’t have sides, his mother said, meaning different faces for different occasions. He was all he was, all of the time.”

This week, we will honor John. Arizonans will say goodbye, and then John will go to be honored in Washington, D.C., before being laid to rest along the Severn River at the United States Naval Academy. While we should focus our attention and respect on honoring him this week, I would take the privilege to speak for my friend in saying that an even greater honor would be that, after we give him a worthy sendoff, we return to our work, our debates and our communities with a renewed focus on service, collaboration and the greater good.

I want his mother, Roberta, his loving wife, Cindy, and his children to know that the nation’s prayers of peace and strength are with them. We thank them for sharing their incredible son, husband and father with the world. I pray that they are comforted by the knowledge that John’s was a truly remarkable life, a life that will always be remembered and held up as a paragon of service and integrity.

John often talked about and quoted from his favorite book, “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” In it, Ernest Hemingway writes something that reminds me of John:

“Dying was nothing and he had no picture of it nor fear of it in his mind. But living was a field of grain blowing in the wind on the side of a hill. Living was a hawk in the sky. Living was an earthen jar of water in the dust of the threshing with the grain flailed out and the chaff blowing. Living was a horse between your legs and a carbine under one leg and a hill and a valley and a stream with trees along it and the far side of the valley and the hills beyond.”

During his full and rich life, with intention in every moment, John McCain demonstrated the pinnacle of honor and service. In death, he demonstrates the power of legacy, dignity and purpose. May God give my friend — and a friend of all who love our country and her values — a peaceful rest.

Carly Fiorina, founder and chairman of Unlocking Potential, ran for president in 2015-16 as a Republican. She became the first woman to lead a Fortune 20 company as CEO of Hewlett-Packard. She headed the newly-formed External Advisory Board for the CIA under President George W. Bush and, in 2008, joined then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to found the One Woman Initiative, becoming its global board chair when it merged with Opportunity International.

Tags Carly Fiorina John McCain John McCain Republican Party United States

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