McCain honors veterans in Iowa

Republican presidential candidate John McCain continued his Labor Day weekend tour of Iowa Monday at a ceremony unveiling a veteran's monument in Neola.

McCain was the last of a half-dozen speakers at the event, which drew a crowd of about 300. Many wore fatigues or military uniforms.

McCain said while war is tragic, the fight for freedom is an honor veterans share and understand.

"Most veterans know, war is an experience we would not trade," he said. "We might be proud of overcome the paralysis of terror…to sacrifice for something greater than ourselves."

McCain's morning western Iowa stop was part of a holiday weekend of campaigning in the state — his first visit since the Iowa State Fair last month. At a visit to a rural Gladbrook home Sunday, McCain's remarks focused on the fate of the Iowa caucuses, saying that Iowa and New Hampshire should remain the traditional leadoff states in the presidential nomination process.

But McCain today kept his focus on honoring veterans. The bond veterans share "is very difficult for others who have not shared our experience to understand."

McCain has a nearly lifelong history with the U.S. military. His father was a top-ranking U.S. Naval officer —in fact, McCain was born on a military base in Panama. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958. He was a fighter pilot in Vietnam who was captured in 1967 by the Vietcong after his plane was shot down .After spending five years as a prisoner of war, McCain was release in 1973. He continued his military career until 1981.

McCain, who has two sons in the military, remains an aggressive supporter of the war in Iraq. He has advocated for an increase in U.S. troops in Iraq and has said that a withdrawal of forces would be a huge mistake.

"The enemies of our past were evil but not irrational," McCain said. "Today, we glimpse the prospect of a better world but we also face a threat and a long war to defeat."

McCain said last month he intends to spend more time in Iowa between now and the January caucuses. He also planned to attend the Neola Labor Day parade as well as a campaign stop in Essex.