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Senator John McCain Tribute

01 Feb 2019
Senator John McCain Tribute

An open letter from Operation Smile Co-Founders Dr. Bill Magee and Kathy Magee.

We hope this message finds you well, 

As we reflect on the life of Senator John McCain, one of most decorated and steadfast servants of the United States of America, words like sacrifice, valor, leadership, honor, integrity and humility come to the top of our minds.

In reality, there aren’t words that describe the impact that Senator McCain continues to have on our country. Being human, we are limited by the constructs of words and language to convey deeper meaning – to attempt to grasp forces that are unlimited by nature. And so was John’s spirit – unbound and unlimited as it’s always been.

When we formed Operation Smile, we never imagined that the galvanized compassion and selflessness of thousands of like-minded individuals would open doors for us to meet extraordinary people like Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II and so many other honorable leaders and dignitaries from all over the world.

John McCain’s light shined among the brightest of them all.



We were fortunate enough to have met him through his wife, Cindy McCain, and her relentless dedication to children affected by cleft lip and cleft palate. Before she became a member of our board of directors, she fell in love with a little girl from Bangladesh whose life hung in the balance because of her cleft palate. Without hesitation and with the infinite love that only a mother has for her children, Cindy welcomed Bridget into the McCain family – much to surprise of John when they arrived back home in Arizona! There, she received the medical treatment and the complete, comprehensive care that she always deserved. And that’s the common thread that bound the McCain family to Operation Smile for so many years. Just as we believe that we are responsible for caring for every child suffering from cleft lip and cleft palate, Cindy and John refused to look the other way when they met their daughter for the first time. With John’s unwavering support, Cindy continued to serve children and families affected by cleft through Operation Smile, including volunteering on a medical mission to Vietnam – the very place where her husband bravely sacrificed more than five years as a prisoner of war. The humility and humanity of this act of forgiveness that Cindy displayed in the name of both her husband and the United States is but one thread in the fabric of the glorious McCain family tapestry. As we honor the memory of her beloved husband, we extend our most heartfelt condolences to Cindy and the McCain family.