“When I think about Christmas, and I think about Sen. McCain, I think of giving,” he wrote in a piece posted Saturday about the Arizona Republican, with whom Fitzgerald has built a personal relationship over the past five years.
“As a prisoner of war in Vietnam he missed six Christmases with his family back home and suffered unbelievable hardship,” he added in the commentary posted Saturday.
“Yet most people don’t realize that he could have gotten out of that prisoner of war camp four years earlier than he did because his father was a high-ranking military commander. However, he refused to be freed until all the men captured before him were released.”
“That is true heroism and bravery,” Fitzgerald wrote. “He gave so much in the service of his country, and that commitment to service continued as he was elected to Congress in the 1980s.”
Fitzgerald also recounted a trip he took to Vietnam, saying he saw the lake where McCain’s plane was shot down and the prison he was held during the war, and noted the senator today “again finds himself in a battle, this time . . . with cancer.”
“I’ll wish him a Merry Christmas today, and I pray he lives another 20 years,” Fitzgerald wrote. “I know this: As soon as my boys are of age, I’ll tell them stories about the quality of the man I’ve gotten to know.
“I’ll tell them: Sen. John McCain will be revered and respected for as long as the United States of America has a place in this world, and his legacy will outlive us all.”