This is an email sent from John McCain’s brother Joe to several campaign supporters. It is long, but I think it has a great message and a call to action.
I have received many agonized emails from supporters of John McCain. Some angry, a few in shades of despair. Here is what John McCain really asks of you, as I heard it.
John McCain and Robert E. Lee – A Higher Duty
At Appomattox Courthouse Virginia, finally brought to ground by the superior numbers of Grant’s Union Army, the commanding general of the Army of Northern Virginia Robert E. Lee ordered his fiercely loyal troops – not, not ordered, urged them — to stack their arms and work to become loyal citizens of the United States again.
“It is better to do right, even if we suffer in so doing, than to increase the reproach of our consciences and posterity”
For several days before Lee’s decision to surrender to Grant, many of his most loyal officers, urged him to disperse his army to become guerilla fighters. The word ‘guerilla’ was already known to military commanders of the time, for it came from the ‘small wars’ partisans fought successfully against Napoleon’s legions in Spain. Even his President, Jefferson Davis, urged him and other commanders still in the field to send their armies into the mountains, and the forests, and the hollows – to lash out at Federal troops from hiding, then flee to strike again.
But Lee said ‘No’. He knew that to fight a war was one thing. But the thought that his brave, battered men would become bandits and marauders repelled him.
In his fascinating book April, 1865, author Jay Winik wrote that Lee was “…uncompromising about the unique American ethos of respecting the primacy of civilian leadership to make judgments about affairs of state.
“And thus did Robert E. Lee, known for his leadership in war, make his historic contribution – to peace.”
To all supporters of John McCain, I say he is your ‘commanding general’. And last night he urged you all to do something rather similar – accept the result of this election and work for the common good, the common necessity – for the United States of America.
Here are some of his words to you. I repeat them, for such words are often read more thoroughly than they are heard –
“My friends, we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly.”
And later in one of the most gracious concession speeches an American politician and solder has ever made, he said –
“I pledge to [Barack Obama] tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face. I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.”
These are no mere congratulatory words, filled with pro forma conciliation. For John went on to define their marathon campaign.
“In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.
“This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight. I’ve always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Senator Obama believes that, too.
He defined the history and context of the campaign and its results.
“We both recognize that, though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation’s reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound.
“Let there be no reason now … Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.
“Senator Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country. I applaud him for it…” and expressed his great sympathy for the loss of his grandmother the day before the election.
“Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain.
“These are difficult times for our country.
“Tonight — tonight, more than any night, I hold in my heart nothing but love for this country and for all its citizens, whether they supported me or Senator Obama.
“I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president. And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe, always, in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here.
“Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history. Together.”
No one was more disappointed in the aggregate decision of his countrymen and women than John McCain himself. He had great things to accomplish, great fights to win, great barriers to smash. For all Americans. And I presume to say I also understand the astounding things he wanted to achieve for this country as its President. For I have known this man for 66 years, and as a brother six years younger, I have always looked upward at him in awe. And could clearly see him in the role of President.
But for John McCain, as with all his life, there is a higher cause – the commonweal of the citizens of the United States. ALL the Citizen of the United States.
If he can accept this stunning body blow and understand a higher duty, then so can we who worked so hard for him. We simply must follow his direction to move forward. Together.
And let us do so without a dark rear view mirror, without recrimination — about the voters … about the press … about certain moments during the campaign … about decisions of the campaign and its staff, about anything. But to just move forward. There is no time for looking back, not with what history will inevitably throw at us.
This doesn’t mean to lose your identity as a member of any party. Nor to stop working for any candidate you wish. But times are going to get more challenging, possibly even very dark at some times. Problems will be thrown at us we cannot even image this day after the American People decided.
John McCain has directly asked you to help this new President as best you can, to act as Americans — moving up, moving forward, and moving to better places. For all of us.
John McCain is my Commanding General. I am going to follow his order and his plea – for me to try to help our President-to-be to bring the land to a safer, better place.
I respectfully ask for you to do the same. For if Barack Obama fails, we all fail. Together.