Cuomo orders flags to half staff in honor of John McCain – ‘a warrior and a statesman’
John McCain, who twice ran for U.S. president and was admired for his principles and outspoken views, died on Saturday after fighting brain cancer the past year. He was 81.
McCain was a naval bomber pilot, a prisoner of war for 5 ½ years, and long-time senator from Arizona.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo this morning directed that flags on all state government buildings be flown at half-staff in honor of Senator John McCain from today until his funeral.
“At a time of political division and hostility, Senator McCain was a maverick,” Cuomo said. “While I did not always agree with his positions, he was a public servant who indisputably aimed to put country over party.
“John McCain championed bipartisan efforts to implement campaign finance reform and build a fairer immigration system. And his historic vote to save the Affordable Care Act — with a memorable thumbs down — protected health care for millions of Americans.
“It was not just his well-known heroism in the Vietnam War, and the extraordinary ordeal he endured as a prisoner of war. John McCain gave his life in service to this nation, exemplifying all that we admire in a hero.
“He was a warrior and a statesman, in the old-fashioned sense. In his own way, he spoke truth to power. He criticized Republicans and Democrats alike. John McCain criticized all of us. Because in his mind, those of us who are privileged to hold public office can never work hard enough for the people of this country. He was right.
“Near the end of his commencement address in Annapolis last year, he urged his young audience to avoid a ‘polarized politics, which exaggerates our differences’ and ‘looks for scapegoats instead of answers.’ He knew war, and he knew politics, and he knew that they did not have to resemble each other as much as they do — a sentiment remembered by too few at a time when we should all recommit ourselves to putting country over partisan politics.
U.S. President Donald Trump: “My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!”
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer: “As you go through life, you meet few truly great people. John McCain was one of them. His dedication to his country and the military were unsurpassed, and maybe most of all, he was a truth teller – never afraid to speak truth to power in an era where that has become all too rare.”
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: “We will never forget the unparalleled courage, heart and service of John McCain. My thoughts are with his family as they mourn this great loss, but also as they celebrate his incredible life. It was a privilege to serve beside John in the Senate, and he will be so greatly missed.”
President Barack Obama, who won the presidency against McCain in 2008: “John McCain and I were members of different generations, came from completely different backgrounds, and competed at the highest level of politics. But we shared, for all our differences, a fidelity to something higher — the ideals for which generations of Americans an immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed. We saw our political battles, even, as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those high ideals at home, and to advance them around the world. We saw this country as a place where anything is possible — and citizenship as our patriotic obligation to ensure it forever remains that way.
“Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did. But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own. At John’s best, he showed us what that means. And for that, we are all in his debt. Michelle and I send our most heartfelt condolences to Cindy and their family.”