John Mccain: Military and Moral Term Paper

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In this sense, his parent's influence was obvious. Since his early childhood he would listen to stories from the war period without any practical consideration of the actual facts those stories conveyed. However, his parents would later choose for him by guiding him towards the military education. In this sense, "in the early years of his life, Johnny's parents made one decision about which they would be unwavering: When Johnny grew up, he would follow the family model and attend the Naval Academy and would then enter the navy (...) the first demonstrative move Jack and Roberta made toward realizing their goal came in September 1946; they enrolled Johnny, then 10 years old, in St. Stephen's School in Alexandria, Virginia" as part of a higher type of academic preparation that would make him eligible for the Navy Academy later on.

In the current society, the one in which the idea of parents deciding for their children on the path the latter would take in life, an issue that is today considered to be dissolute, actions such as the ones done by McCain's parents would seem a breach to the freedom and liberty of the child to choose on his own. However, at the time of McCain's early childhood, these actions represented in fact part of a process in which the values and moral standards of previous generations would be instilled in the mentality and character of the young adult, preparing him for a life conducted in accordance with the highest moral system, the military. Although it may seem at this point an old fashioned endeavor, at that time, it represented for John McCain the incentive and at the same time the possibility to follow on his father and grandfather's footsteps.

The issue of the children-parents relationship and his personal experience in this sense had an important effect on the way in which he would later on conduct politics on this matter. The fact that his own parents had exercised not necessarily a tight control over his education and his childhood framework, but guided carefully the factors and the environment which exercised an influence on him is seen in the political stands he exhibits today. In this sense, he has become an advocate for the right and duty of the parents to monitor the elements that could somewhat impact the mental and physical well being of their children. More precisely, in 1999 "McCain issued "An Appeal to Hollywood" calling for a "new social compact" that reminds parents of their serious responsibilities in determining the entertainment media in which their children involve themselves. "Our homes are being flooded by a tide of media violence," said McCain. "As concerns grow over the climate of violence in our culture today, it's important not only for parents to take a greater role in their children's lives but also to encourage the industry to be responsible citizens."

The first years of his education proved essential for his eventual development as an individual and for the sketching of his own perspectives on life. The school in itself was demanding, not necessarily from the academic point-of-view, but more precisely from the moral one. In this sense, "when McCain arrived at Episcopal in the fall of 1951, he found a place steeped in heritage and traditions that demanded rigid adherence to social and cultural codes, as exemplified by the honor code." This environment offered him the first possibility to step out of the family environment his parents had created for him, one based on restriction and discipline that were considered prerequisites.

The relationship with his siblings was greatly influenced by the way in which the family itself was raised. In this sense, although from afar they could have been considered the traditional American family, in fact, McCain and his siblings were mostly raised by their mother. Thus, he argued that "my father was gone so much at sea and so there was a kind of self-reliance on us and within the family." This state of facts would greatly influence not necessarily his military career, but his perspective on life as a complex endeavor.

The time spent in schools, as well as that spent in the military academy was for John a time of continuous soul searching and a struggle to find his own identity. He would later consider this period as one of experimentation. He would discover his passion for films, music, and the life regular young adult would lead. In a sense, this evolution was a natural consequence of the pressures a family background such as his placed on the establishment of a young character. The death of his father made him stop the teen adventures and enroll in the Navy Academy. However, although he was aware of the eventual possibility, he resented the idea of having little control of his future. Moreover, he was often looked at from a subjective perspective. Thus, "if there was ever a military brat, it was Johnny McCain. He was born in a navy hospital in the Panama Canal Zone while his father was stationed there, but that was just the beginning of the long, odd childhood of a boy who grew up under the pressure of being the son and grandson of navy brass" From this point-of-view the less than mediocre results in the Academy can be explained.

The rebellious side of his young adulthood brought an essential contribution to the way in which he conducted politics. The fact that he had considered Marlon Brando to be "cool" or the idea that he passed through the periods of rebelliousness many people can identify with made him approach his political figure in a sense that the electorate would consider him as "a man of the people. He visited hundred of town meetings and local gatherings (...) people felt that they could approach him and that he would listen to what they had to say."

The Vietnam experience of John McCain is yet another point in which the personality of his ancestors is obvious. Both his father and grandfather had fought wars that in fact were not their own, ones which the United States did not freely and with consent choose to fight. The First and Second World War had an important impact on the human resources of the United States. The wars had showed however the great courageous forces of the U.S. Army. This is why in the Vietnam War, a conflict waged for the spread of democracy around the world, McCain's struggle in his five years of imprisonment are considered to be indeed an act of bravery. However, this did not protect him from criticism. In response to the constant accusations of carpet bagging, he relied "I spent 22 years in the Navy. We in the military service tend to move a lot. I wish I could have had the luxury, like you, of spending my entire life in a nice place like the 1st District of Arizona. As a matter of fact, the place I lived longest in my life was Hanoi." It can be said therefore that the experience was as traumatizing as enriching.

However, the costs of the war are also manifested in terms of the inability to keep a sentimental relationship. In this sense, despite the fact that he got married before going to Vietnam to Carol Shepp, the marriage did not endure the war, his imprisonment, and her car accident which left her physically transformed. This was to be a turning point in his activity as the entire situation gave him the determination to leave for the National War College at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. It may be that the eventual divorce from his first wife would give him the incentive and emotional freedom a career military needed.

The second marriage may prove to be more successful. In this sense, without having left his former wife, John McCain met in 1979 his current wife, Cindy Hensley, "an attractive 25-year-old woman from a very wealthy politically-connected Arizona family." It has often been debated the issue of his marriage. On the one hand, he is considered to be similar to his father and grandfather in terms of women. Thus, he was viewed in his youth as having an increased interest in all types of women. However, in the relationship with Cindy Hensley, there are voices that consider his marriage to have been indeed very benefic for the launch of his political career. More precisely, his wife's name is always mentioned in relation to the idea of being the "heiress to Phoenix-based Hensley & Co., the nation's second-largest Anheuser-Busch distributor." Therefore, not only is her name mentioned but it also draws the attention on the considerable wealth she posses and which represents an essential contribution to the political campaign of her husband.

The personal life of John McCain has been a constant subject for debate and controversy throughout the years. There have been rumors of his involvement with different women; however, one of the…

Sources Used in Documents:


Alexander, Paul. Man of the People: The Life of John McCain. Wiley: Hoboken, 2003.

Feinberg, Barbara Jane John McCain: Serving his country. New York: Lerner Publishing Group, 2000.

Kaczor, Bill. McCain Divorce Settlement Outlined. Associated Press, 2000, accessed 29 February 2008, available at

Kissinger, Henry, Diplomacy. London: Simon & Schuster, 1995.

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