Support of unusual leader draws applause at funeral

Duane Dailey

First it was a sniffle. Then my eyes filled with tears. Emotions broke my Saturday morning shopping routine.

My car radio brought live coverage of eulogies for John McCain by his daughter and others. Soon, I knew I had to stop. No driving through tears.

In a grocery store parking lot I heard stories of a strong McCain. Meghan, his daughter, delivered powerful stories.

I admit to a readiness to be impressed. A fan of McCain, I was a quiet admirer of this rare politician who put national interests first, driven by intellect, emotion and humor. No petty meanness. He shook people up to make things happen.

It made me proud of my Eisenhower Republican upbringing. Get things done. No blather.

McCain’s daughter was part of the story. As a girl when she fell from her horse and broke her collarbone, he picked her up and carried her to the doctor. Then, he took her right back to that same horse.

Get up and ride, he said. He was mean, she thought. As an adult, she learned he taught her his lessons. Pain doesn’t stop you. You get up and go.

After stories were told, I slowly understood why they hit my heart so hard. I learned his lessons as a farm kid.

My dad taught no sick days with livestock chores to do. Milk cows, slop hogs, feed chickens and gather eggs. No calling in sick. Work must be done.

There’s more to my emotion. It finally dawned. Meghan suffered a loss of her dad, these few days after his death. I can tell her, that won’t go away. My tears came in part for loss of my mom. Six months ago there was pain. Now, there’s lingering pain.

Day by day, I get thoughts I gotta tell mom. The next instant I recall, she’s gone.

We should be lucky to learn lessons Meghan learned from her dad. As she said, he was a sailor, aviator, prisoner, warrior, politician, senator and almost president. Best of all he was father.

We are our parents and our upbringing. Our responsibility becomes to pass that on. What a weight.

McCain had eulogies by two former presidents and many others. It was a state funeral. Obama said McCain’s sense of humor shows. He gets the last laugh, having opponents say nice things about him.

McCain had eight months to work out details of his funeral. What would you ask for? I was fortunate. At my early retirement, Professors held a shindig that my mother got to hear. Coworkers and students took their best shots at me. Better than a funeral.

McCain makes me think of service to country. Lucky me, I served the U.S. Army for a dozen years: Two on active duty and the rest in reserves. I was not called again for active duty.

I was a teeny-tiny cog in defense. First, I served in an artillery firing battery at Ft. Sill, Okla., training forward observers, firing live shells for practice. (That’s when I lost my hearing. No ear muffs in those days.) Then I was assigned, because of my MU training, to the North American Air Defense Command.

It was Top Secret. I’ve never written stories of what I heard. Back then we were tested, being probed, by Russian bombers coming over the North Pole. Were those planes loaded for war? We assumed so. They tested our radar and scramble times for our fighter jets. When challenged, they turned and went home.

I can’t be pals with Putin. Russia still probes our cyber defenses.

McCain’s funeral had things not often heard at funerals: Laughs and standing applause. The applause at the end broke when Meghan said her dad fought for a great country. It doesn’t need to be made great again. It is great.

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