Veterans groups announced plans Friday to give away shirts of the USS John McCain during next month’s Fourth of July festivities on the National Mall in D.C., where President Trump is scheduled to give an address from the Lincoln Memorial.
Rags of Honor and VoteVets.org said volunteers will distribute shirts of the warship, nicknamed “Big Bad John,” to celebrate the service of its namesakes: late Sen. John S. McCain III, his father and grandfather, who combined served more than a century in the U.S. Navy.
“We had a lot of policy battles with Sen. McCain, and fights on issues of war, but we always respected his service and his sacrifice,” said VoteVets chair Jon Soltz. “While VoteVets and John McCain never much saw eye-to-eye on policy, and probably still would not if he was around today, his family’s service to America spoke to that sense of realizing this nation is bigger than just one man. Honoring that kind legacy — especially of a political opponent’s — seemed fitting for July 4.”
Mr. Trump feuded with McCain prior to the Republican senator’s passing last August, and he has continued to publicly criticize his legacy in the nearly 10 months since, including twice during an interview aired by ABC News this week.
The president spoke weeks earlier to sailors stationed at the Yokosuka Naval Base where the USS John McCain is docked, albeit not before a tarp was draped over the ship obscuring its name. He has denied asking for McCain’s name to be concealed.
Mr. Trump is slated to give a “Salute to America” address from the Lincoln Memorial on Independence Day, making the president part of a traditionally nonpartisan event.
Rags of Honor is a clothing company that hires homeless veterans, and VoteVets.org is a political action committee that campaigns for matters affecting former service members and their families. The shirts they partnered to print are advertised as made in America by U.S. military veterans and are being sold online in advance of July 4.
“Whether it was Sen. McCain, his father, his grandfather or his sons, the McCain family has given more to this country than most, and America’s birthday seems like a great time to honor that service and sacrifice,” said Rags of Honor founder Mark Doyle, a veteran of the War in Afghanistan who launched the company in 2012. “After all, people like them — and there aren’t many — made these kinds of celebrations possible.”