President Joe Biden paid a heartfelt tribute to the late Senator John McCain during his official visit to Hanoi, Vietnam.
The visit held profound significance as it marked the location where McCain’s plane had been shot down during the Vietnam War, leading to his five-and-a-half-year captivity as a prisoner of war.
Joining President Biden was former Secretary of State and Senator John Kerry, who, like Biden, was a colleague of McCain’s in the Senate.
This visit underscored the enduring friendship and respect Biden had for McCain.
A Solemn Pilgrimage
President Biden began his day with diplomatic meetings with Vietnamese officials, marking the upgrade of the U.S.’s diplomatic relationship with Vietnam.
However, the highlight of his visit was the stop at the monument on the bank of Trúc Bạch Lake.
When asked by a reporter why he included this visit in his official itinerary, President Biden expressed his deep affection for McCain, stating, “I miss him. He was a good friend.”
The monument featured a wreath adorned with red, white, and blue flowers, with Navy and Marine officers standing vigil.
President Biden paid his respects, touching the wreath and bowing his head, while also presenting challenge coins to the officers and leaving a command coin at the site.
Memories of McCain’s Ordeal
John McCain’s harrowing experience as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam left an indelible mark on him.
He described the fateful day when his plane was shot down on October 26, 1967, recounting the injuries he sustained and the brutal treatment he endured.
Despite facing unbearable conditions and torture, McCain’s resilience prevailed, and he survived years of captivity before his eventual release.
A Long-Standing Friendship
President Biden’s connection with John McCain dates back to the 1970s when he served as a military aide to the young Senator from Delaware.
Their bond persisted through the years, even as they belonged to different political parties.
In the 2008 presidential election, Biden was selected as the Democratic nominee for Vice President on Barack Obama’s ticket, while McCain ran as the Republican presidential candidate.
Although their political paths diverged, their personal friendship endured.
A Family’s Impact on Politics
The McCain family’s influence extended beyond John McCain’s legacy.
Cindy McCain, John’s widow, endorsed Joe Biden during his 2020 presidential campaign, motivated in part by her disappointment in then-President Donald Trump’s comments about her late husband.
Meghan McCain, John McCain’s daughter and a Republican, also expressed her support for Biden during his campaign, emphasizing his compassion and decency.
However, her perspective on Biden’s presidency took a different turn after his election.
President Biden’s visit to John McCain’s monument in Hanoi served as a poignant reminder of their enduring friendship and the profound respect he had for the late senator.
This pilgrimage held deep personal significance for Biden, highlighting the importance of honoring the memory of a political maverick who left an indelible mark on American politics.
The McCain family’s impact on political discourse and their roles in endorsing Biden underscored the complexities of bipartisan relationships and the enduring impact of individuals in the realm of politics.