Local family reflects on special bond with Sen. John McCain

Madge Arnold wore McCain's POW bracelet until after he was released

SAN ANTONIO – As the family of Sen. John McCain announces the plans for his funeral services, a family in San Antonio is reflecting on a special bond they have with the late senator, even though they never met him.

During the Vietnam War, Madge Arnold was one of the tens of thousands of children and others across the country who wore a POW bracelet in support and honor of U.S. military soldiers captured or missing during the war.

Arnold's bracelet had John McCain's name on it, and after all these years, she still has it today.

"It was recently that I found it again," Arnold said. "It was such a great time to find it, because it just renewed my faith in patriotism and everything else that I still had this and how much it meant to me then. And it still means a lot to have it now."

Arnold's mother, Madge Mickler, remembers the day when she heard the news that McCain, who had been a prisoner of war, had been freed.

Mickler said she rushed to Arnold's elementary school to tell her the news. Arnold was about 9 years old at the time.

"I stopped what I was doing, drove up to the school, got permission to go to her room and called her out, asked the teacher to send her out," Mickler said. "I said, ‘I just wanted to let you know that John McCain is alive and well and released.’ So it was an exciting, exciting day."

Arnold had been wearing John McCain's POW bracelet for more than a year and she said she remembers picking out the bracelet at the store with his name on it.

"I memorized his name, and I wore it," Arnold said. "I was determined that my POW was going to come home, and I was going to wear that bracelet until he came home. I think my mom will tell you that I'm very stubborn. I may have still been wearing it if he hadn't come home, but I was very excited to know he came home."

Arnold continued to wear the bracelet sometime after McCain was freed, but said it wasn't until she got older that she realized that the same John McCain on her bracelet was the same man who had such an impact in Washington.

"It wasn't until I was grown that I realized that's the John McCain that was on my bracelet," Arnold said. “It stopped me in my tracks. I thought, ‘This is the John McCain that I wore in my arm all this time’ when I got old enough to realize who he was."

Arnold said she reached out to Meghan McCain a few weeks ago through Instagram to ask if her family would like the bracelet, but she hasn't heard back yet.

About the Author: