Here’s How Ernest Hemingway Influenced Senator John McCain

John McCain may have recently passed, but he will definitely be remembered for ages. The “maverick” was known for his honesty, respect, and utmost loyalty to his country and beliefs. McCain was a member of the Republican party, but when he passed the entire nation was struck with the sense of a great loss. Many people, regardless of their political party, are mourning his death because although he may have disagreed with certain beliefs, he would never belittle them and would always try to compromise.




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It almost comes as no surprise when we learn of who really inspired this man. McCain would say that throughout his life, nothing inspired him more than the writings of Ernest Hemingway; in particular McCain related to For Whom The Bell Tolls. McCain stumbled upon the book as a child, and throughout his life, he would recall how the protagonist Robert Jordan reflected all of the morals that he desired to have as an adult.




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In Hemingway’s book, Robert Jordan is an ordinary man. He is literate and intelligent while also being immensely loyal to America and democracy. Jordan is compelled to join in the effort in the Spanish Civil War simply because he thinks it’s the right thing to do. He believes that defending the peoples’ rights against fascism is just, and is willing to risk everything but his loyalty to democracy to help in the fight.



McCain felt that Jordan fought for what was right and adopted these qualities. The two share similar parallels throughout their years although their lives were vastly different. McCain enlisted in the US Navy as his family did before him for generations while Jordan also shares some military background. However, the two do not go to war simply because it is their family tradition, but because they feel that they need to fight for democracy. 



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A young John McCain | Image via WCCO



McCain would often write of Hemingway’s impact. He once wrote:



For a long time, Robert Jordan was the man I admired above almost all others in life and fiction. He was brave, dedicated, capable, selfless, possessed in abundance that essence of courage that Hemingway described as grace under pressure, a man who would risk his life but never his honor… He was and remains to my mind a hero for the twentieth century, my century, the century when McCains went to war on ships and claimed our place in the great clashes among rival ideologies, fascism, communism, and self-determination, that made the age as memorable for its violence as for its progress.



Robert Jordan failed in his attempt at guerrilla warfare. He somewhat dies in vain since the civil unrest would only settle after 1975 in reality; just how McCain gave everything in Vietnam even though the US did not exactly “win” the war. Both of these men, fictional or not, embodied the spirit of freedom and the responsibility to protect it. The maverick wouldn’t have it any other way.




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While in Vietnam, John McCain became a prisoner of war after he was shot down over Hanoi. There, he endured all sorts of torture. He would be subject to incredible amounts of physical pain and kept in solitary confinement. He spent five-and-a-half years in captivity. Numerous reports state how there were points when the young man couldn’t take it anymore; he had tried to end his own suffering but prison guards thwarted his attempts each time.



McCain refused another alternative when he was offered to be traded as a hostage for propaganda reasons. He rejected this chance at freedom, because he didn’t believe it was right to only free him and not any other POWs. He may have been beaten and bloody for almost six years straight but, McCain, like Jordan, realized that he will give his life, but never his loyalty.




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It’s no surprise that McCain became an avid writer. Besides being inspired by his hero and his creator, McCain would chronicle his life in several books while also expanding on what it means to be an American in his eyes in others. His most recent book was published just this year. The Restless Wave is a deep look into the kind of man John McCain had become, his ideals and beliefs, and his criticisms of the current seats of power in America. The book is a personal memoir that looks on the last ten years or so of the mavericks life. 



McCain also released a memoir about the earlier parts of his life. This was his first official published release and still proves to be a relevant book to this day. Faith of My Fathers not only goes over the noble military actions of John McCain, but also details parts about his father and grandfather’s services as US Navy soldiers. McCain’s unique way of portraying the multiple stories of his family to connect with his own is both parts immersive and emotional.




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McCain will always be remembered as a die-hard American, but also as a man of reason and sensitivity. McCain wrote about his political philosophy, saying:



… I was [at the time of entering Congress] a Republican, a Reagan Republican. Still am. Not a Tea Party Republican. Not a Breitbart Republican. Not a talk radio or Fox News Republican. Not an isolationist, protectionist, immigrant-bashing, scapegoating, get-nothing-useful-done Republican. Not, as I am often dismissed by self-declared ‘real’ conservatives, a RINO, Republican in Name Only.

“I’m a Reagan Republican, a proponent of lower taxes, less government, free markets, free trade, defense readiness, and democratic internationalism.



HBO has recently released a full documentary dedicated to the recently deceased. Titled John McCain: For Whom The Bell Tolls, it is indeed a much see for those in mourning or for any who wish to know more about this honest and widely respected American icon. After his passing, John McCain has already had monuments and buildings proposed to be named after him. His official funeral is to be held on August 30th; just one day after his birthday. Past presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama had been requested before his death to each read his eulogy.





Featured Image via AP News