Two American icons

Published 11:37 am Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Last weekend we celebrated the lives of two beautiful individuals: Aretha Franklin, The Queen of Soul, and Senator John McCain, The Maverick. While in most ways their lives were so different from one, in other ways it was similar.

Aretha Franklin was born March 25, 1942, and left this world Aug. 16. She is known for being one of the greatest singers ever. But while she was a great singer, she was also a powerful civil rights activist. She was not afraid to show her support to various civil rights leaders who needed her help. Franklin provided money for civil rights groups, at times covering payroll, and performing at benefits and protests free of charge. She was a wonderful, giving woman who supported those less fortunate without requiring the fanfare or accolades.

In 2005 she was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It is the highest civilian award of the United States and recognizes those people who have made an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. My daughter and I saw her in concert in November 2012 in Washington D.C. It was one of the greatest experience of my life. I understood why she was called the Queen of Soul because she was absolutely dynamic. Her voice captured my soul and I understood what it meant to bring someone to tears with the sound of your voice. At her funeral many stood up and gave testimonies on her life and the powerful impact she made on the world. R-E-S-P-E-C-T, in life and now in death, Queen, you were worthy of that and much, much more.

John McCain was born was born Aug. 29, 1936 and left this world Aug. 25. During his lifetime he faced challenges that few of us would have been able to endure. From 1967 to 1972, he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Although severely tortured, John McCain showed his strength and character when he refused early release unless every man taken in before him was released. He stated he would “neither accept parole nor special favors from the enemy.” Years later, he served as a U.S Senator from 1987 to 2018. For 31 years Arizonians believed and trusted that Senator McCain would look out for their well-being and for the country’s well-being. He did both. Senator McCain frequently said, ‘There’s a special satisfaction that comes from serving a cause greater than yourself.” While our politics were different, I never doubted his love for this country. It was well noted that he, while he voted with his party on many issues, also stood apart and disagreed with them on others. He was not afraid to cross party lines and do what he felt was right for the country. These actions earned him the nickname Maverick. To quote Meghan McCain, “He was a great man, he was a great warrior, he was a great American.”

Both Franklin and McCain left a legacy to be proud of and now their journeys have come to an end. We can only hope and pray that others will take a page from their books, pick up the baton and strive to make this world a better place. Sleep well gentle giants, you both will be missed. Be bless in Jesus’ name

Mary Simmons can be reached at