The other night I went to a screening of "Faith of Our Fathers," the new movie about John McCain's five-year ordeal in a North Vietnamese prison that airs on A&E tomorrow night. It flashes back to McCain's high school days, when the principal reported bad grades to McCain's father, whose only question was not about grades but whether his son had violated the school honor code. Had he lied or cheated? When told that he had not, his father said, "Well, call me if he does that."
McCain says that code of honor drilled into him by his father and the Naval Academy is why he was able to survive the torture and the inhumanity of his prison captors. He couldn't let his father down. That code of honor was the center of his life and it gave him strength -- what separated him from his captors.
I thought about that as yet another tale of torture and abuse came out about the POW camp we are running at Guantanamo Bay.
Columnist Tom Friedman said the prison ought to be shut down because the stories about it are so inflaming the Arab world they're making the war on terrorism more dangerous for our American soldiers to fight.
But as I watched the McCain movie, I wondered if the greater danger is the impact Guantanamo is having on us. Do we want our children to believe this is how we are? Is this the code of honor we are passing on to the next generation?
As we reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day, let us remember first what it is that separates us from those who would take away our freedom -- what John McCain's dad taught his kid, what we should be teaching ours.
By Bob Schieffer