The Loss of John McCain: Grieving a National Hero

August saw the loss of Senator John McCain, and our nation grieved. A longstanding and sometimes controversial figure in American politics, McCain was well-respected across the aisle and celebrated as a national hero for his service to our country during his lengthy military career. No one was surprised by the news of his death because we all knew it was coming; McCain had been battling glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain tumor, for more than a year. Knowing his diagnosis, McCain, his family, and our nation had time to prepare for what was inevitable.

John McCain had a long and storied career. Celebrated as a war hero, he was born into a military family and attended the Naval Academy at Annapolis before serving on active duty from 1958 until 1977. He served in the Vietnam War, during which he spent time as a POW, later being awarded the Silver Star Medal, the Legion of Merit, three Bronze Star Medals, a Navy Commendation Medal and the Purple Heart Medal. After retiring from the Navy, he pursued a career in politics, first as a United States Representative, then as a Senator, and twice as a presidential candidate. He was serving his sixth term as senator for Arizona when he died.

Upon his death, McCain was given a funeral befitting his status. First, he lay in state at the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix as thousands came to pay their respects. He was then flown to Washington, D.C., on Air Force Two so that his funeral could be held at the National Cathedral. During the funeral, eulogies were provided by his daughter Meghan McCain, as well as by former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Other speakers of note included Senator Joe Lieberman and former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Opera singer Renee Fleming sang a touching rendition of “Oh Danny Boy,” an honor guard and flag-draped casket marked his veteran status, his pallbearers included former Vice President Joe Biden, former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, actor Warren Beatty, and Russian dissident Vladimir Vladimirovich Kara-Murza. Held at the end of a week of public mourning, Senator McCain’s burial at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis was marked by a military flyover in the missing man formation.

It was an extremely well-planned funeral. Because his death was expected, McCain had plenty of time to think about and plan his funeral ahead of time. In doing so, he ensured that his wishes were honored, and gave his family and supporters a beautiful opportunity to celebrate his life in a meaningful way.

In a sense, death is expected for all of us. We don’t know when it will happen, but it is a certainty that each person will eventually die. That’s why it’s such a smart idea to preplan. Preplanning is a wonderful gift you can give your family because it alleviates the stress they’d feel having to make decisions on your behalf after you’re gone. Preplanning affords you the opportunity to arrange your service the way you want it to be, taking away the guesswork.

At Greenwood Memorial Park, we know a few things about preplanning. For more than a century, Greenwood Memorial Park has served the San Diego community, building a reputation for quality, sincerity and trust. We’ve done that by providing exceptional service, caring for people of all cultures and faiths We are committed to celebrating the unique life of each individual while respecting the wishes of every family. Visit us today to see our beautiful grounds for yourself,  visit us online or call (619) 241-4312 to learn more about preplanning.

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