Although I never met you, I want to thank you for your example. The flags that fly at half-staff today represent our full hearts. You taught us how to live and you showed us how to die.
You served our country courageously. In spite of what some may say, you were a war hero. The room service you endured in the Hanoi Hilton was unimaginable. I'm grateful you didn't choose to leverage your personal privilege to gain an early release. I'm humbled by the fact you opted to continue suffering alongside your fellow POWs instead of taking advantage of that to which you were entitled. That selfless decision exposed your inner character.
Back at home you bravely found your place on the frontlines of conflict to fight for the freedoms of the forgotten and overlooked. With grace you fostered friendships with colleagues on both sides of the aisle. You bore in your body the wounds of war, but the stiffness of your arms did not prevent you from reaching out to those who viewed life differently. Even on the campaign trail, you embraced justice rather than cozying up to those who were only too-quick to flatter. You willingly defended your opponent as your own supporters falsely accused him. And even though you would eventually lose that election, you were a winner in my book.
On more than one occasion you acknowledged you were far-from-perfect. You owned your past mistakes aware of your regrets. Thank you for your willingness to be vulnerable. By admitting you were human, you became more approachable. Perhaps that's why I feel close to you. Like you, I'm a sinner in need of a Savior. I'm less than I wish I was but grateful for the blessings of a gracious God.
Like you, John, I'm grateful for the privilege to live (and die) in the land of the free andthe home of the brave. Like you, I'm a proud American. And like you, I am too proud to simply stand by and turn a blind eye to what needs changing in a country we both love. Please rest in peace knowing that your example has inspired people like me to follow your lead and fight the good fight.