A 106 year-old Roberta McCain was one of the first to settle in the face of the coffin of her son Friday at the Capitol, frail figure in a wheelchair yet true to the force stoic than she had shown in learning, fifty years ago, that the plane of his “Johnny” was shot down in Vietnam.
Wearing a thin white shirt polka dot black, white hair impeccably coiffed, she has spent long minutes next to empty chairs, eyes fixed on the coffin, draped with the american flag to John McCain, who died Saturday at the age of 81 from cancer of the brain.
Living in Washington, it was the first tribute of the public that it could make after the first ceremonies held in Arizona, the State of the american West, in which his son was the republican senator.
See also : a tribute to the Capitol to John McCain
Imposing presence throughout the ceremony, it is she who comforted his granddaughter, Meghan McCain, 33 years old, holding her firmly by the hand while she was crying. Then she went to greet the coffin, making a delicate sign of the cross on his chest, head bowed.
In 1967, she had for a long time believed having to say goodbye to his son. Fighter pilot of the u.s. army, John McCain was leading the 23rd raid of his career on October 26, 1967, when his fighter A-4 Skyhawk was shot down over Hanoi, Vietnam. His father, admiral also called John McCain, and Roberta are in London and learn the new as they prepare to go to a dinner with the ambassador of Iran. They think he’s dead. But no question to cancel.
“It didn’t come to mind. You know, I am someone who is quite stoic,” she confided to the New Yorker magazine in 2005. The couple decided not to say anything to their hosts. It was finally announced that John McCain was a prisoner of war. “Can you believe that this is the best news I ever received in my life? You see, the things that affect you differently depending on the circumstances”. About this capture, and five years of captivity of his son, to be tortured, she had simply said to Time magazine: “My husband had chosen his profession, and Johnny, too.”
A rebellious character
“My mother was raised to be a strong woman, determined, who takes full advantage of life and has always tried to make the most of its opportunities,” wrote John McCain.
Adventurer, Roberta McCain was able to in fact enjoy his years. Japan, India, or Jordan, she loved to travel to the four corners of the world until his 90 years, often with her twin sister Rowena, who died at 99 years of age. The secret of his longevity? Roberta McCain had entrusted him there are already ten years in the chain C-Span: “live with nothing other than fresh fruits and vegetables”. Strong character, she did not hesitate very long when in France, he was told that she was too old to over 90 years of age, to rent a car. Roberta McCain had bought a to travel around the Hexagon, then send it on the east coast of the United States… and across the country to San Francisco, according to the New York Times.
Rebel at the age of 19, she had escaped up to Tijuana, Mexico, to marry John McCain. In 2000, she had described his soul-traveller in Time as that of a “little turtle”: “I’m just taking a small pair of boots, a raincoat and my binoculars and I’m leaving.” Declaring, paradoxically, also quite “shy”, Roberta McCain had accompanied his son on several stages of his presidential campaign in 2008. She did not hesitate to rebuke them publicly for his language can be flowery.
“This poor soul”, she had said at the Time. “I really think he resembles me a lot… too sensitive”.
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