Guest Author - Linda Sue Grimes
Day 1: Meridian MS
On March 31, 2008, presumptive presidential candidate Senator John McCain began his “Service to America Tour” in Meridian, Mississippi. He opened his speech with the following remarks: “As you might know, I was once a flight instructor here at the air field named for my grandfather during my long past and misspent youth. And it's always good to be in Mississippi, which you could call my ancestral home. Generations of McCains were born and raised in Carroll County, on land that had been in our family since 1848.”
McCain continued to recount tales about his military family, particularly his grandfather and father: “I am the son and grandson of admirals. My grandfather was an aviator; my father a submariner. They were my first heroes, and their respect for me has been one of the most lasting ambitions of my life.”
From the example of his family, he learned, “No government is capable of caring for children as attentively and wisely as the mother and father who love them. But government must be attentive to the impact of its policies on families so that it does not through inattention or arrogance make it harder for parents to have the resources to succeed in the greatest work of their lives - raising their children.”
Day 2: Alexandria VA
On April 1, 2008, McCain continued his tour with a speech at Episcopal High School, where he began his remarks with “I'm happy to be back at Episcopal, my alma mater, which I have many happy memories of, and a few that I'm sure former teachers, school administrators and I would rather forget.” He paid tribute to a special teacher who influenced him greatly, William B. Ravenel, who served as head of the English Department and coach of the junior varsity football team.
Because of the helpful guidance McCain received from this special educator, the presidential hopeful uses this speech to encourage the formulation of better schools, and he encourages former military people to become teachers: “Schools should compete to be innovative, flexible and student-centered institutions, not safe havens for the uninspired and unaccountable. They should be able to compete for dedicated, effective, character-building teachers, hire them and reward them. I believe we should encourage military veterans to enter the teaching profession, and I've advocated the Troops-to-Teachers Act.”
Day 3: Naval Academy, Annapolis MD
On April 2, 2008, John McCain spoke at the Naval Academy in Annapolis MD. In this speech, he demonstrates how he came to understand the importance of citizenship: “Citizenship is defined by countless acts of love, kindness and courage that have no witness or heraldry and are especially commendable because they are unrecorded.”
He asserted that citizenship was more than merely voting, emphasizing its importance especially for maintaining a democracy.
Day 4: Jacksonville FL
On April 3, 2008, McCain spoke at Jacksonville, Fl, from where he was deployed to Vietnam. It was the people of Jacksonville, who supported the McCain family while the naval officer was suffering imprisonment and torture at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton.”
He emphasizes again the importance of serving one’s country and also lists the important issues that face the nation, about which he says, “We can leave these difficult problems to our unlucky successors, after they've grown worse, and harder to fix. Or we can bring all parties to the table, and hammer out principled solutions to the challenges of our time.”
He then lists the issues he will be stressing during his campaign: strengthening the military, balancing the federal budge, saving Social Security, reforming the tax code, and many others.
Day 5: Prescott AZ
On April 5, 2008, McCain explained the bipartisanship he learned from Republican Barry Goldwater and Democrat Mo Udall, both Arizona congressmen, who ran unsuccessfully for president.
He spoke openly to his Democrat rivals as he anticipates the coming campaign rhetoric: “Let us argue with each other then. By all means, let us argue. Our differences are not petty, they often involve cherished beliefs, and represent our best judgment about what is right for our country and humanity. Let us defend those beliefs. Let's do so sincerely and strenuously. It is our right and duty to do so.”
Anyone who needs to learn more about the real John McCain can address that need by reading these speeches. They offer a wealth of information and give a view of the candidate’s heart and mind.
Click on the following banner to read all speeches in Service to America Tour: