John McCain made it to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., this morning where he delivered a speech calling on Americans to serve their country.
"I had a difficult time my plebe year adjusting to the discipline imposed on me," McCain said in a windy stadium with American flags audibly flapping behind him. "I was something of a discipline problem to begin with. The problem being, I didn't like discipline. And that childish impulse that seemed then so important to my self-respect; to protecting the individualism I had been at pains to assert throughout my itinerant childhood, encouraged my irreverence to some of the customs of this place."
"The most important lesson I learned here was that to sustain my self-respect for a lifetime it would be necessary for me to have the honor of serving something greater than my self-interest," he continued. "When I left the Academy, I was not even aware I had learned that lesson. In a later crisis, I would suffer a genuine attack on my dignity, an attack, unlike the affronts I had exaggerated as a boy, that left me desperate and uncertain," he said. "It was then I would recall, awakened by the example of men who shared my circumstances, the lesson that the Academy in its venerable and enduring way had labored to impress upon me. It changed my life forever. I had found my cause: citizenship in the greatest nation on earth."
Describing citizenship as "countless acts of love, kindness and courage that have no witness", McCain called on Americans to participate beyond voting. "For too many Americans, the idea of good citizenship does not extend beyond walking into a voting booth every two or four years and pulling a lever," he said. "Citizenship is our acceptance of -- and our protection of -- these principles. It is the duties, the loyalties, the inspirations and the habits of mind that bind us together as Americans," he said.
"If you find faults with our country, make it a better one. If you are disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to correct them. I hope more Americans would consider enlisting in our Armed Forces. I hope more would consider running for public office or working in federal, state and local governments."
Interestingly, due to technical difficulties, he wound up skipped five paragraphs of his speech, which mostly included his comments on policy.
McCain's prepared remarks showed he would address the economy and the government's role to take care of those left behind as well as explain how as a conservative he believes in healthy skepticism of the government but his teleprompter malfunctioned and he missed that portion of his speech.
McCain heads to Pensacola, Florida for another speech and a meet-and-greet this afternoon.