John McCain’s oldest son remembers his late father and those who honored him


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said it best, “there is no replacing John McCain.”   

To the nation he was a war hero, and a maverick in the U.S. Senate, but as we heard in the many emotional tributes all last week, he was so much more.

He was a father to seven children. The oldest, Doug McCain, now lives in Virginia Beach. 

He says that his father was about inspiring people, that America is an exceptional country, that we are the world’s greatest hope for democracy around the world, and in the end we need to act on that. 

“Honor, duty, country, that was the speech he gave at my high school graduation, which was ostensibly about Watergate,” Doug McCain said. 

Throughout the week that was, there was Doug McCain in the U.S. Capitol rotunda paying honor to a fallen father. 

He remembers and is moved by the crowds, pictures from inside the motorcade.

“There were people standing on the overpasses, and the service roads, and it just gets you in the gut,” McCain said choking back tears.

“I’m pretty much spent, as you can tell … very emotional. Everywhere we went the, Vietnam Memorial, it was constant and you see these people with tears in their eyes, hands on the heart, officers saluting.”

Doug remembers all the people who stood for hours in 100-degree heat, he remembers tapping his father’s casket.

“I said goodbyer, rest in peace, but I also gave a little knock on the coffin shave and a haircut, two bits because that’s what the POWs used to tap on the wall when they wanted to communicate with each other.”

John McCain, 5 1/2 years in captivity, pulled from the sea, a POW, in solitary confinement, lived in the Hanoi Hilton. Doug lived through that as a boy.

“I think it is to inspire people, to work for a cause greater than their own, and to recognize that America is an exceptional country, and that we are the world’s greatest hope for democracy around the world,” he said about his father’s legacy. 

Doug has many pictures of life on his father’s Arizona ranch.  Many pictures of his children. 

There’s one with McCain’s children with grandpa, and former senator Joe Lieberman. “My dad used to make a point that at least one long weekend a year, usually longer, we would meet out at the cabin in Sedona. It was always a lot of fun, and if you came for a visit, he would tell you where the hawk nest was, he would tell you about this rose bush, and that tree, and where the owl liked to hang out, we would visit and look at the creek.”

In the end, McCain refers to a picture of the three amigos as they are know: Senator Lieberman with Senator McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham.

“They were known as that because they would travel all over the world together, to go to a place where there was oppression, lack of democracy, instability, to try to figure out what is going on, and how the United States can possibly help.”

10 On Your Side asked Doug what moved him most during the week.   

At the top of the list, the singing of the Battle Hymn of The Republic in the National Cathedral. Everyone stood and sang the last stanza, “As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, while God is marching on.”  That’s what moved Doug McCain as he remembered his father.

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