And another Giant is gone


This past week, and certainly the past few days, has brought with it a plethora of news bulletins and stories that have managed to rattle even the most calm among us. From the recent indictments, flipping and tweets that have been showered upon us by the investigators, attorneys and the White House one must wonder what the rest of the world is thinking.

Champions and heroes come to us few and far between. Honesty seems to fade away once one becomes “an elected official in Washington.” I have always believed that one should be given the benefit of the doubt before accusations are made, but for the life of me I can’t seem to get beyond one headline before another comes rolling across the bottom of the screen advising me of another bombshell.

There are some news headlines and stories that I find myself wondering if they will ever end. The happy ones don’t seem to last long enough, and the sad ones linger for what seems like days. But, today, I’m not ready to stop hearing about the loss of another great American hero, a true leader and someone whom I admired.

John McCain lived a life of giving to this country and of himself without asking for or expecting gratitude. He showed courage when many others would have folded. He put America and its citizens first just as he did as a captive during the Vietnam war when he insisted that those who were captured before him were released before him as well. John McCain was truly an American hero, and he will be missed; yes, we have lost another champion of truth and honor and he won’t be easily replaced in the halls of Congress, if ever. John McCain was one of a kind. It is too bad he never made it to the White House, he deserved it!

Sadly, however, the idea of honor seems to be missing in today’s “swamp.” If the fish truly rots from the head, then what are we to think of our current White House inhabitant? What is the rest of the world thinking? While we must respect the office of President, it is getting more and more difficult to respect the man behind the desk.

Yes! The economy is doing well! Yes! Leaders of other nations are beginning to take notice of the fact that America is no longer willing to bow down and take second place. Yes! The POTUS says what he thinks and the rest of the world be damned! But, where is the “do unto others?” or “if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything?” I don’t mean to sound like a Pollyanna, but isn’t it time for the bluster to settle down a bit and allow us to go at least a week without more indictments of “the President’s men?” Where is the honor, the integrity, the transparency from Washington and our leadership? “Leadership is not a position or a title, it is action and example” — Unknown

If we are lucky, we work for a leader who clearly demonstrates teamwork and encourages those around him or her to bring ideas to the table and to participate in open communication and problem solving. (I consider myself lucky in this regard.) Respected leaders don’t need threats or intimidation to get things done, they don’t say one thing and then do another. They don’t belittle or disparage members of their team or their opponents. Good leaders do battle alongside their staff not against them. President Trump possesses none of the qualities I have just mentioned, I’m sorry to say; but John McCain did!

And then we have Paul Ryan. He is leaving his position in congress and as Speaker of the House due to “personal reasons needing to spend more time with his family” — maybe it is true, “if it’s too hot in the kitchen, get out.” Joe Scarborough said that the Republican party has lost its way, and it is now “the party of Trump.” Maybe he is right, but I sure hope not. The Republican party once stood for conservative and Christian values; I don’t see either of those being expressed today whether in the Congress or the White House, and it is discouraging.

So where does one go and to whom does one look to in order to bring the mindset of Americans back to the idea of honor, trust, leadership, goodness and “the land of the free and the home of the brave?” Where do we go from here if our elected leaders take the “bully pulpit” literally and no one stands up to say “enough?” It is worrisome, and I pray that eventually things will swing back to a more even keel.

It is with certainty that I will receive many negative comments about the questions and statements made in this commentary, but state them I must. I believe in our country, the office of the president of the United States, Congress, and the laws that have kept us free and safe. I love the fact that the economy is doing well — but I am disheartened by the downward spiral in which the morals and personal values seem to be going.

There is an old country song that I believe was sung by George Jones, in it he asks, “Who’s gonna fill their shoes? Who’s gonna stand that tall? Who’s gonna give their heart and soul to get to me and you? Lord I wonder, who’s gonna fill their shoes?”

Goodbye Senator McCain, our country has lost another giant, and I fear no one will fill your shoes.

Have a great day.

Vicki Westling is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to