Monday, August 18, 2008

That Cross Story

Via rickrocket at Daily Kos, John McCain’s legendary tale of meeting a Christian guard while he was being held prisoner in Vietnam sounds a lot like a story from The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

Leaving his shovel on the ground, he slowly walked to a crude bench and sat down. He knew that at any moment a guard would order him to stand up, and when he failed to respond, the guard would beat him to death, probably with his own shovel. He had seen it happen to other prisoners.

As he waited, head down, he felt a presence. Slowly he looked up and saw a skinny old prisoner squat down beside him. The man said nothing. Instead, he used a stick to trace in the dirt the sign of the Cross. The man then got back up and returned to his work.

As Solzhenitsyn stared at the Cross drawn in the dirt his entire perspective changed.

As rickrocket notes, “…it is very interesting that Mr. Solzhenitsyn and Mr. McCain had the same Christian guard/prisoner experience. Or maybe it is all just a made up story. Somehow I doubt that Alexander Solzhenitsyn heard John McCain’s story and copied it.”

Chances are that this story won’t get any traction other than here in the blogosphere; there’s no way of proving it true or false unless you can find the guard in question — in either Vietnam or Russia — and get them to tell it. And of course the media isn’t going to touch it; after all, John McCain’s service in the Vietnam war is unassailable, and no honorable person would ever dare call into question a veteran’s service or mock them for the heroism that they displayed during the war. Just ask John Kerry.

HT to Andrew Sullivan.