Abyssinia, John

“M*A*S*H” is undoubtedly one of the best shows to come out of the post-war television boom. It told the story of several doctors for the United States’ Army, many of whom didn’t want to be there, who served in a mobile hospital during the Korean War.

In one of television’s bravest moments, the writers of “M*A*S*H” had to send off the ensemble cast due to stalling by way of contract negotiations. Thus, the episode, “Abyssinia, Henry” was written, in which each of the characters gives a heartfelt farewell before the character of Colonel Henry Blake finally gets on a helicopter destined for Japan, and then the United States. The first of “M*A*S*H’s” characters to make it back home safely.

Except that’s not what happened. In an unprecedented split-second move, the writers on “M*A*S*H” decided to kill off Blake during the denouement. This was unheard of for a comedy show, but it drove home the point that not everyone comes home from a war.

After they get the news of Blake’s death, the surgical teams stop working on their patients momentarily, but then get back to work as though nothing had happened.

In America, it feels somewhat similar. John McCain has recently died, and it seems as though the entire country took a moment to pause, and then moved on.

If there’s one thing I hate about writing perspectives pieces, it’s betraying my journalistic integrity by espousing political views. I won’t be discussing John McCain’s politics, or anyone else’s for that matter.

Instead, I’ll be talking about the rhetoric in America. At John McCain’s funeral we saw some of the best that America has to offer. People eulogized him in moving and passionate speeches, with Joe Biden’s speech being a highlight, “My name is Joe Biden. I’m a Democrat. And I love John McCain.” People from across the aisle came together to remember a man that gave the majority of his life over to his country, and for a few hours, they didn’t care about divisions, or party, or anything like that. They simply came together to speak well of a man who passed on.

The presidential administration, however, has not shown the same respect. Beyond remaining silent after McCain’s death, the vitriolic relationship between the president and McCain has been in full view of the American people over the last two years. We’ve seen our president belittle a man who was captured by enemy forces in service to his country, and then continually antagonize him right up until his end. This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.

At McCain’s funeral we saw people of differing opinion come together. Those same people work together in congress and throughout the government to keep our country going, even if the head of state seems otherwise occupied. Much like the surgeons on M*A*S*H, the men and women of congress took their momentary pause and now continue their work.

We should be thankful we live in a country where things like this can happen. Where we can come together when one of our best dies, and where we can keep moving forward, regardless of who holds the office of the president.

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