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We can learn from Biden and McCain

Former Vice-President Joe Biden gave a touching, emotional eulogy at Thursday’s memorial service for Sen. John McCain. It was an inspiring message of unity, of friendship trumping political divisions, and of service.

The nation, divided along ideological lines in extremes that are hard to understand, could learn a few lessons from these two men. They often differed politically, but had enough respect and fondness for one another to overcome any differences for the sake of their friendship. They were at times political enemies, yet remained personal companions.

Below are excerpts of Biden’s eulogy. We could all learn a thing or two from his words.

“My name is Joe Biden. I’m a Democrat. And I loved John McCain.

“… We got to know each other well and he loved my son Beau and my son Hunt. As a young man, he came up to my house and he came up to Wilmington and out of this grew a great friendship that transcended whatever political differences we had or later developed because, above all, above all, we understood the same thing. All politics is personal. It’s all about trust. I trusted John with my life I think he would trust me with his. And as our lives progressed, we learned more, there are times when life can be so cruel, pain so blinding it’s hard to see anything else.

“Character is destiny. John had character. While others will miss his leadership, passion, even his stubbornness, you are going to miss that hand on your shoulder. Family, you are going to miss the man, faithful man as he was, who you knew would literally give his life for you. And for that there’s no balm but time. Time and your memories of a life lived well and lived fully.

“John’s story is an American story. It’s not hyperbole. It’s the American story, grounded in respect and decency, basic fairness, the intolerance through the abuse of power.

“John was a hero, his character, courage, honor, integrity. I think it is understated when they say optimism. That’s what made John special. Made John a giant among all of us. In my view, John didn’t believe that America’s future and faith rested on heroes. We used to talk about — he understood what I hope we all remember — heroes didn’t build this country. Ordinary people being given half a chance are capable of doing extraordinary things, extraordinary things. John knew ordinary Americans understood each of us has a duty to defend, (the) integrity, dignity and birthright of every child.

“Bottom line was, I think John believed in us. I think he believed in the American people. Not just all the preambles. He believed in the American people, all 325 million of us. Even though John is no longer with us, he left us clear instructions. ‘Believe always in the promise and greatness of America because nothing is inevitable here’.”