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John McCain Quotes About Character, America and More

The following John McCain quotes offer advice and share wisdom about life, character, and being an American. 

John McCain is a man that served his country for decades. While most people learned his name when he ran for president, he has a long history of services.

McCain served in the military during the Vietnam War, was shot down, and held as a POW for six years. In the years following, he served in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. 

The John McCain quotes below help paint a picture of who this man was as well as sharing wise words of advice to live by. 

Also, check out our list of Elijah Cummings quotes on hope and justice.

John McCain quotes about Americans

1. “America’s greatest strength has always been its hopeful vision of human progress.” – John McCain

2. “Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.” – John McCain  

3. “Despite our differences, much more unites us than divides us. We are fellow Americans, and that’s an association that means more to me than any other.” – John McCain

4. “Our shared values define us more than our differences. And acknowledging those shared values can see us through our challenges today if we have the wisdom to trust in them again.” – John McCain

5. “I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else’s. I loved it for its decency, for its faith in the wisdom, justice, and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again; I wasn’t my own man anymore; I was my country’s.” – John McCain

6. “Do not yield. Do not flinch. Stand up. Stand up with our President and fight. We’re Americans. We’re Americans, and we’ll never surrender. They will.” – John McCain

7. “We are a country with a conscience.” – John McCain

8. “Our political differences, no matter how sharply they are debated, are really quite narrow in comparison to the remarkably durable national consensus on our founding convictions.” – John McCain

9. “You have at hand many examples of good character from whom you will have learned the lessons by which you can live your own lives. You are blessed. Make the most of it.” – John McCain

If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of character quotes about the power of integrity.

10. “I think after 9/11 we made a mistake. I think after 9/11, instead of telling Americans to take a trip or go shopping, I think we had an opportunity to call Americans to serve.” – John McCain

More John McCain quotes about America

11. “In this country, we believe everyone has something to contribute and deserves the opportunity to reach their God-given potential, from the boy whose descendants arrived on the Mayflower to the Latina daughter of migrant workers.” – John McCain

12. “We are Americans first, Americans last, Americans always. Let us argue our differences. But remember we are not enemies, but comrades in a war against a real enemy, and take courage from the knowledge that our military superiority is matched only by the superiority of our ideals, and our unconquerable love for them.” – John McCain

13. “Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed.” – John McCain  

14. “Respect for the God-given dignity of every human being, no matter their race, ethnicity or other circumstances of their birth, is the essence of American patriotism. To believe otherwise is to oppose the very idea of America.” – John McCain

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15. “I loved what I missed most from my life at home: my family and friends; the sights and sounds of my own country; the hustle and purposefulness of Americans; their fervid independence; sports; music; information–all the attractive qualities of American life. But though I longed for the things at home I cherished the most, I still shared the ideals of America. And since those ideals were all that I possessed of my country, they became all the more important to me.” – John McCain

16. “People have come to this country from everywhere, and people from everywhere have made America great.” – John McCain

17. “In America, we change things that need to be changed. Each generation makes its contribution to our greatness. The work that is ours to do is plainly before us; we don’t need to search for it.” – John McCain

John McCain quotes about government

18. “Thank God for our form of government. The media won’t let there be any cover-up.” – John McCain

19. “I will not take the low road to the highest office in this land. I want the presidency in the best way, not the worst way.” – John McCain

20. “I believe the American people have a right — indeed, a responsibility — to know what was done in their name; how these practices did or did not serve our interests; and how they comported with our most important values. … The truth is sometimes a hard pill to swallow. It sometimes causes us difficulties at home and abroad. It is sometimes used by our enemies in attempts to hurt us. But the American people are entitled to it, nonetheless.” – John McCain

21. “I am a Republican. I’m loyal to the party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. And I believe that my party, in some ways, has strayed from those principles, particularly on the issue of fiscal discipline.” – John McCain  

22. “But we’re at a place in our political history when passing legislation through the House with bipartisan support is considered by some folks a greater evil than the problem it’s intended to solve.” – John McCain

23. “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.” – John McCain  

24. “I don’t doubt the sincerity of my Democratic friends. And they should not doubt ours.” – John McCain  

25. “We cannot forever hide the truth about ourselves, from ourselves.” – John McCain  

26. “War is wretched beyond description and only a fool or a fraud could sentimentalize its cruel reality.” – John McCain  

27. “Our armed forces will fight for peace in Iraq, a peace built on more secure foundations than are found today in the Middle East. Even more important, they will fight for two human conditions of even greater value than peace: liberty and justice.” – John McCain  

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John McCain quotes on courage

28. “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the capacity to act despite our fears.” – John McCain  

29. “Nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself, something that encompasses you, but is not defined by your existence alone.” – John McCain

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30. “I don’t mind a good fight. For reasons known only to God, I’ve had quite a few tough ones in my life. But I learned an important lesson along the way: In the end, it matters less that you can fight. What you fight for is the real test.” – John McCain

31. “I’m sure you’ve noticed, I never talk about my experiences in prison. I’ve known too many professional heroes in my life.” – John McCain

32. “No just cause is futile, even if it’s lost, if it helps make the future better than the past.” – John McCain  

John McCain quotes on character

33. “It is your character, and your character alone, that will make your life happy or unhappy.” – John McCain  

34. “The moral values and integrity of our nation, and the long, difficult, fraught history of our efforts to uphold them at home and abroad, are the test of every American generation. Will we act in this world with respect for our founding conviction that all people have equal dignity in the eyes of God and should be accorded the same respect by the laws and governments of men? That is the most important question history ever asks of us.” – John McCain

35. “We must be true to ourselves. And we must be true to others, whether they believe we are or not.” – John McCain

36. “Being true to our conscience, being honest with ourselves, will determine the character of our relations with others. That is a concise definition of integrity.” – John McCain

37. “People who hold certain institutional positions should have your respect until they lose it. But the rest of us mortals have to earn it.” – John McCain

38. “It’s very important to lose gracefully. You know, no bitterness, no anger, no remorse – can’t display that.” – John McCain

39. “No one else can give it to you or deny it to you. No rival can steal it from you. And no friend can give it to you. Others can encourage you to make the right choices or discourage you. But you choose.” – John McCain

40. “When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.” – John McCain

41. “Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of vision.” – John McCain

Thought-provoking John McCain quotes

42. “I don’t believe in destiny. We are not born to become one thing or another, left to follow helplessly a course that was charted for us by some unseen hand, a mysterious alignment of the stars that pulls us in a certain direction, bestowing happiness on some and misfortune on others.” – John McCain

43. “To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.” – John McCain

44. “‘Steady strain, buddy, steady strain,’ we cautioned each other whenever we began to take a short view of our lives. It was best to take the long view. We would get home when we got home.” – John McCain  

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45. “I don’t mourn the loss of any terrorist’s life. What I do mourn is what we lose when by official policy or official neglect we confuse or encourage those who fight this war for us to forget that best sense of ourselves. Through the violence, chaos and heartache of war, through deprivation and cruelty and loss, we are always Americans, and different, stronger and better than those who would destroy us.” – John McCain

46. “Glory belongs to the act of being constant to something greater than yourself, to a cause, to your principles, to the people on whom you rely and who rely on you.” – John McCain

47. “I don’t have a complaint. Not one. It’s been quite a ride. … I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times.” – John McCain

48. “Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the Internet. To hell with them. They don’t want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood.” – John McCain

49. “He served his country, and not always right — made a lot of mistakes, made a lot of errors — but served his country, and I hope we can add, honorably.” – John McCain

50. “What God and good luck provide we must accept with gratitude. Our time is our time. It’s up to us to make the most of it, make it amount to more than the sum of our days.” – John McCain

51. “Fear is the opportunity for courage, not proof of cowardice.” – John McCain

More John McCain quotes and sayings

52. “Keep moving if you love life, and keep your troubles well behind you.” – John McCain

53. “People want the truth, even if they disagree.” – John McCain

54. “Many good people mistake their reputation for their character. It is a mistake I have made many, many times.” – John McCain

55. “I disagree with what the majority of the American people want.” – John McCain

56. “I guess he believes if a lie is big enough and repeated often enough, it will be believed.” – John McCain

57. “I’m just trying to keep things normal around the house because there’s no reason why things shouldn’t be normal.” – John McCain

58. “What is good for my country is good for my party, Should my party abandon this principle, the American people will abandon us.” – John McCain

59. “It’s not social issues I care about.” – John McCain

60. “There’s a certain romanticism associated with the exploration of space, which is one of the major factors why we’ll continue.” – John McCain

What did you learn from these John McCain quotes

Regardless of what side of the party lines you choose to sit on, there are plenty of lessons that can be learned from John McCain and the words that he shared while he was still alive. He may have been on the Republican side, but he wasn’t afraid to speak his mind when he didn’t agree with them as well. 

McCain was a supporter of people and truly believed in America and the freedoms that the country provides. He continued to hold the belief that it was a blessing to be an American until his death several years ago. His wise words on courage, character, and government share his opinions and how he really felt. 

What’s your biggest takeaway from these wise John McCain quotes? Do you have any other inspirational quotes to add? Let us know in the comment section below.

Stephanie Kirby
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