Mentored John McCain? (con't)
of my teammates wanted to hang the guy. But I argued
that since he had not been caught breaking training
but instead had confessed the offense and expressed
his remorse freely, his behavior was no less honorable
than that of a student who signed the pledge and adhered
to its provisions. My defense swayed the people in the
room, about twenty or thirty guys. Mr. Ravenel closed
the discussion by voicing support for my judgment.
the meeting broke up, Mr. Ravenel approached me and
shook my hand. With relief evident in his voice, he
told me we had done the right thing, and thanked me
for my efforts. He allowed that before the meeting he
had been anxious about its outcome. He had hoped the
matter would be resolved as it had been, but was uncertain
it would. Still, he had not wanted to be the one who
argued for exoneration; he wanted the decision to be
ours and not his. He said he was proud of me. That was
very important to me.
have never forgotten the confidence his praise gave
me. Nor did I ever forget the man who praised me. Years
later, during the time I was imprisoned in Vietnam,
I thought about Mr. Ravenel a lot. He was the one who
reinforced in me the standards of honorable behavior.
I was faced with several decisions and one in particular,
would I accept an offer of the Vietnamese to go home
early? I thought about the fact that Mr. Ravenel had
been in combat in World War II and thus had a feel for
what I was involved in. And I really believed, as I
thought about it and considered it, that Mr. Ravenel
wouldn't look favorably upon such a decision, because
it was not an honorable one. So, I refused the offer...
I returned home, Mr. Ravenel was the only person outside
of my family who I wanted to see, because his approval
or disapproval of me was probably more important than
anyone else in my life, outside of my father. I felt
he was someone to whom I could explain what happened
to me, and who would understand. That is a high tribute
to Mr. Ravenel.
regret that I was never able to pay him that tribute.
Upon return I found that my mentor had passed on. Mr.
Ravenel had died of a heart attack two years before
my release from prison. He lived for only 53 years.
His early death was a great loss to his family, friends,
and students, and to everyone who had been blessed with
his company; a loss I found difficult to accept.
William B. Ravenel the only person I remembered from
high school, I would credit those days as among the
best of my life. He was an inspirational man, and I
wasn't the only one that he inspired. His influence
over my life, while perhaps not apparent to most who
have observed its progress, was more important and more
benevolent than that of any other person save members
of my family.
think that a mentor can help you through difficult periods,
help you see the difference between right and wrong.
The world is more complicated for children today than
it ever was when I was growing up. A mentor can provide
you with the kind of idealism that you can look up to
and attempt to emulate. What I believe young people
find very useful is someone that they can contact and
interact with, and frankly express their doubts and
their concerns and their questions. We have found through
scientific study that a mentor can dramatically impact
a young person's life. I knew that Mr. Ravenel had a
great impact on me. But I don't think I really understood
how deeply he impacted me until I was in prison, because
it was his example I looked to when I was tempted to
do something which was less than honorable.
in part from Faith of My Fathers by John McCain with