Burial site offers insight into McCain's deep connections

Aug 31, 2018

His distinguished military career entitled late Senator John McCain an honored burial site at Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting spot for McCain's father and grandfather. Instead, he will be buried Sunday at the Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland. The choice prompted Associated Press reporter Laurie Kellman to explore what was behind the decision.


Upon hearing Senator John McCain was in his final hours, Laurie Kellman of the Associated Press sought out his burial spot at the Naval Academy Cemetery. Last Saturday, a traffic cone was in place at the site.
Credit Associated Press

"It's reflective, I think, of McCain's affinity for things that are not quite so formal," Kellman said of the burial site.

"Arlington Cemetery was not the place for him."

The late Senator will be buried near his lifelong friend, the late Admiral Chuck Larson. The men met as midshipmen at the Naval Academy.  Kellman says she became aware of the connection while reading McCain's book "The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights and Other Appreciations." 

The literary reference brought to mind another McCain connection. During the 2008 Presidential campaign, NPR's Susan Stamberg produced an extraordinary feature which chronicled how the two major candidates--McCain and Barack Obama-- listed Ernest Hemingway's "For Whom the Bells Tolls" as their favorite book.

In a public radio interview, McCain shared how he often reflected on the book's hero, Robert Jordan, during his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He said he found strength and sense of purpose in recalling the character.

In the book's final moments, Jordan knew his death was imminent after fighting a noble but ultimately doomed battle. Jordan reflected on how "the world is a fine place, worth the fighting for and I very much hate to leave it."

McCain recited the line during the interview and offered a profound assessment.

"It's a beautiful phrase when you think about it. And to me, it means everything. Maximize your time. Care about the world, not just your own self,' said McCain.

"And accept your fate, accept your fate."