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8:51 PM Tue, Nov. 20th

Jackson: McCain’s grace recalls playful local ‘birther’ hubbub

Sen. John McCain appears on the steps of the Yavapai County Courthouse on Nov. 7, 2016. McCain passed away Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018. He was 81. (Courier file photo)

Sen. John McCain appears on the steps of the Yavapai County Courthouse on Nov. 7, 2016. McCain passed away Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018. He was 81. (Courier file photo)

I can’t agree more with the tons of accolades extolling the life and deeds of that wonderful patriot and statesman, Sen. John McCain. I think that his focus on serving the nation that he loved was insurmountable, and the brightness of his humanity served as a beacon. So I’d like to touch on just a couple of those reflections from that beacon that are well-known and patently demonstrable.

First, there was that response during his 2008 campaign for president when a supporter said, “I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him, and he’s not, he’s not — he’s an Arab.” And the senator’s memorable reply: “No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.”

And second, there was that decisive thumbs-down vote on a partisan GOP bill that would’ve scrapped major provisions of the Affordable Care Act. There was no substitute legislation in the hopper at the time, so fears prevailed that passage of the measure could end up being devastating to many Americans.

Once again, McCain’s humanity prevailed, and many potential “cross-fire victims” breathed a grateful, and collective, sigh of relief.

Coincidentally, McCain’s response to the woman who referred to Obama as “an Arab” brings to mind another Arizona U.S. Navy veteran named Paul Roseberry, who preceded the senator in death last month — passing away peacefully in his Prescott home at age 93 on Aug. 12. He also preceded the senator in our nation’s wars, serving honorably as a Navy aviation electrician in World War II.

Roseberry was also a 27-year veteran of the Prescott Noon Lions Club. Now, for those of you who aren’t familiar with that group, it’s a close-knit outfit that is outfitted with many members who enjoy poking good-natured fun at each other. And that was the case back in June 2012 when Roseberry, feeding on the controversy raging over Obama’s birthplace, went so far as to question the legitimacy of fellow Lion Paul Chastain’s pending ascendancy to the club presidency based on where HE was born, which – for the record — was East Los Angeles.

Well, Chastain — the cheekiest tongue-in-cheeker of my acquaintance — responded in kind, and I wrote up his graphic bromide on the subject in a June 5, 2012, Courier column, with the headline reading “‘Birther’ issue causes tension in local service club.”

Here are excerpts from the column:

“Chastain viewed Roseberry’s insolence as a challenge and he said that he went so far as to drive to El Paso, Texas, for confirmation. As a veteran of 31 years with the Long Beach Police Department in California, though, he was aware of the danger inherent in crossing the Rio Grande into Juarez – site of the telltale document – so he said that he opted to send his wife to pick it up instead, and was relieved when she returned without incident, the birth certificate in hand.

“The certificate of live birth may not have cleared up the matter, however, because he said it listed him as ‘Pablo’ Chastain. But that appears to be an understandable clerical error and may or may not satisfy the matter in Roseberry’s eyes.

“Meanwhile, things have gotten quite contentious between the two Pauls, with Chastain chastising Roseberry as his ‘No. 1 arch enemy,’ supplanting fellow Lion Zeke Breese in that spot and dropping him unceremoniously to No. 2. (Zeke, incidentally, is a sweetheart of a guy, but Chastain thinks that he has been developing an ‘attitude’ of late, and he’s never gotten over Zeke’s being a former Army paratrooper instead of proper Navy guy such as was the case with Chastain.)

“The president-elect is not without a devious plan to get rid of both nemeses, though, as he told me that he’s going to supply each of them with a canteen of water, a gold pan, and a map with a bunch of ‘X’s’ on it showing where the gold is and then have Zeke — who’s blind — drive the two of them to Wikieup for some prospecting. Now, both Roseberry and Breese are in their 80s, and Chastain recognizes that ‘when people get that old they tend to wander out in the desert, never to be seen again,’ and he expects that that could very well happen with the two of them. As an aside, though, he’s been researching some of the approximate 500 abandoned vertical mines in Arizona for the Bureau of Land Management, ‘studying how bodies disappear,’ and — in a benevolent move — pledges to do a search for Roseberry and Breese if that Wikieup thing ‘pans out’ as anticipated.”

I shot a pic of Chastain applying a front choke hold on poor Roseberry to accompany the column. It was a fun experience.

Contact the columnist at editorial@prescottaz,com.