Larry Fitzgerald Jr., the wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals and friend of the late Sen. John McCain, gave a loving tribute to the Senator at his memorial service in North Phoenix.
Fitzgerald was one of the speakers at the service for Senator John McCain Thursday morning held at North Phoenix Baptist Church. He spoke of their friendship, his love of country, his devotion to ethics and his love of his family.
Below is a quick excerpt from his speech:
‘I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else’s.’
Senator McCain spoke these heartfelt words as he accepted the Republican nomination for president in 2008. They were the words of an authentic American hero.
We all know how the story goes – a fiery navy pilot was shot down by the North Vietnamese over a lake near Hanoi. As his plane spun out of control, he bailed out just in time to plunge into the lake below. That pilot – a young John McCain – was taken hostage as a prisoner of war, where he spent more than five-and-a-half years – almost 2,000 days. He would endure countless beatings, torture, solitary confinement and mental and emotional anguish that none of us will ever have to endure.
After getting to know Senator McCain, I felt compelled to visit Vietnam. I wanted to see the places where the will of John McCain was tested and forged. I saw the lake. I walked the steps. I sat in the cell. And the ordeal that my friend survived became all the more real.
Many people might wonder what a young, African American kid from Minnesota and a highly decorated Vietnam War hero-turned-United States Senator might have in common. Well, I thought of a few.
I’m black. He was white. (laughter)
I’m young. He wasn’t so young. (laughter)
He lived with physical limitations brought on by war. I’m a professional athlete.
He ran for president. I run out of bounds. (laughter)
He was the epitome of toughness, and I do everything I can to avoid contact. (laughter)
I have flowing locks, and well, he didn’t. (laughter)
How does this unlikely pair become friends? I’ve asked myself the same question. But, you know what the answer is. That’s just who he is.