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A Hero's Homecoming

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Who knew that today is the 35th anniversary of the day John McCain was released by his captors as a POW in Vietnam? Probably not many people. It's easy to imagine some of the gimmicks campaign consultants were probably tossing around to commemorate the day: McCain sits behind the controls of a replica of the fighter plane he once flew; of a modern Naval fighter plane; McCain's congressional colleagues hold a roast for him followed by a tribute to the troops still abroad; or even a less eventful speech addressing his POW experience to a crowd of Marines. But none of these are scheduled. Instead, McCain has no activities published on his calendar for the day.

McCain's military history is undoubtedly the backbone of his campaign. But he has rarely mentioned his POW experience. His one clever mention of itearned him a standing ovation. To be fair, he has made a video about his experience as a POW prominently available on his website. And starting yesterday, it was the opening image that led to a six and a half minute video discussing just this topic, also made available on YouTube (above).

So why is he not promoting his POW experience in his media appearances and town hall meetings? First, he's old, and his status as POW in the Vietnam War (wasn't that generations ago?!) reminds people of that. Second, promoting military service becomes a fine line for presidential campaigns: how do you promote an American hero but not make him/her appear arrogant and righteous? But more on this as the campaign continues, I'm sure. Third, some believe that McCain wasn't actually tortured while being held as a POW (do I hear swift boats in the background?).

At the end of the day, whatever the true reason for not publicly remembering his release as a POW, (most likely because it's a private experience that deserves to remain a private experience), the public has a duty to remember The Man's service to his country.