John McCain was a war hero; thatâs undeniable. Still, he never liked the label. No true hero ever does. But the truth is, it didnât begin do him justice.
To me, John wasnât only a hero in war. He was also a hero in politics. Over the years, we disagreed on many issues, but I always admired his determination to do what he believed was right, even if it carried a political cost - as it so often did. The strong independent streak he demonstrated time and again, and his willingness to pay the price for it, defined his political career.
John never sacrificed his integrity or honor - or the interests of America - for personal or political gain. He truly understood what it meant to put America first, and he did it throughout his life: as a naval pilot, prisoner of war, senator and presidential candidate.
In 2008, when he became the Republican nominee for president, my heart told me to endorse him. But that wouldâve required endorsing the whole ticket, and I couldnât do that. So out of deep respect for John, I made no endorsement. He could have called me to complain. He could have said, âYou owe me.â And after it was over, he could have held a grudge. But no. He never did any of that. It wouldâve been beneath him. He was a fierce competitor - but he would compete with honor, or not at all.
Over the past year, as the values that John always stood for were attacked and undermined by leading figures in his own party, he spoke out in ways that reminded us once again of the integrity of his character: âI was raised in the concept and belief that âDuty, Honor, Countryâ is the lodestar for behavior that we have to exhibit every single day.â He always strove to live up to that ideal, and when he failed - as we all do from time to time - he had the courage to own up to it.
In his final months, John warned us against the âdecline in civility and cooperation, and increased obstructionismâ that threaten our nationâs future. Like a latter-day Paul Revere, John McCain sounded the patriotâs alarm. Itâs now up to us to heed it.
America has lost more than a great patriot and a war hero. We have lost a model for the kind of honest and independent leadership our country needs now more than ever.
- Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg