Three Takeaways from John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls watch party

JAKE LYONS: Since the recent passing of John S. McCain — Naval Aviator, Vietnam POW, Senator from Arizona, and two-time Presidential candidate — many Americans have paid tribute to his career of public service and reminisced on the memories of his life's work. John McCain has always been a inspiration for public service to me. First as an inspiration to serve in our armed forces as he did - then later on when the door to serve in the military shut for me, as it did for McCain in his ability to fly, as an inspiration to serve in politics. My story of a personal connection to the late Senator is not unique, many other Hoyas have similar stories of how McCain inspired them in their own lives.

In late May, just two months before his passing, HBO released the documentary: John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls. The Georgetown University College Republicans hosted a screening on Monday night.

On the film:

HBO documents John McCain’s life exactly as it was. His mistakes and slip-ups were as present through the film as his greatest triumphs. Showing some of the less honorable times in McCain’s career displayed his character. He was known for owning his flaws instead of denying them, and using them as building blocks for self improvement.

On Georgetown students’ reactions:

For students to dedicate two hours on a busy Monday night to watch this film is telling of the respect many on this campus have for the late Senator. Students were not distracted by their laptops or scrolling on their phones. Hoyas said they felt a connection to McCain and his legacy: inspiring them to serve their country, lighting a fire for politics, or seeking out bipartisanship.

  • “At yesterday’s event, we were reminded of Senator McCain’s bigger-than-life legacy. By attending this event and watching the documentary, I am inspired and full of hope for the future of our country because of the Senator’s example of cordiality, honor, and call to service,” said Victor Gamas. Gamas is a Junior in the School of Foreign Service from Arizona, and interned for McCain in the Senate.

  • “John McCain has always been one of my heroes. I wrote a biographical research paper on him last year, so I felt especially moved by the film and the respect shown by the students who came to the screening to honor McCain’s legacy,” said Maddox Angerhofer. Angerhofer is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service.

On the Maverick’s lessons and guidance for the country:

“Return to regular order” was a common phrase by the Maverik. McCain wanted the Senate to be the best that it can be: a house of deliberation and principled compromise, not run by majoritarian rule and hyper-partisanship. This film emulated McCain’s passionate belief in the promise of America. “Regular order” is still achievable by the Senate and by our country through the shared ideals that have bound us together and always made us great. We need to remember how our country functions best as republic and return to regular order.



Jake Lyons is the president of Georgetown University’s chapter of College Republicans and a member of the student leadership council of GU Politics. He joined On the Record as a Guest Contributor and interned on Capitol Hill for Sen. Bob Corker (R- TN).

Max Magid