Ross D. Franklin/AP
August 25, 2018 10:06 PM

Former President Barack Obama penned a respectful tribute to Sen. John McCain, who died of brain cancer at the age of 81 on Saturday.

“John McCain and I were members of different generations, came from completely different backgrounds, and competed at the highest level of politics,” Obama, 57, wrote. “But we shared, for all our differences, a fidelity to something higher — the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed.

The statement continued: “We saw our political battles, even, as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those high ideals at home, and to advance them around the world. We saw this country as a place where anything is possible — and citizenship as our patriotic obligation to ensure it forever remains that way.”

Obama’s statement went on to reference McCain’s military service — and the five years he spent in captivity as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.

“Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did,” Obama wrote. “But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own. At John’s best, he showed us what that means. And for that, we are all in his debt. Michelle and I send our most heartfelt condolences to Cindy and their family.”

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McCain, the former POW and outspoken Republican politician nicknamed The Maverick for being unafraid to disagree with fellow members of his party, died at 4:28 p.m. on Saturday, his family announced in a statement.

On Friday, his family said that McCain, “with his usual strength of will,” decided to stop treatment for the stage-four brain cancer he had been battling since its diagnosis last summer.

“In the year since,” the McCain family said, “John has surpassed expectations for his survival. But the progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict.”

Heidi Gutman/ABC

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In July 2017, McCain revealed that he had been diagnosed with glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer, just days after he underwent surgery to remove a blood clot above his eye.

McCain later revealed during a September 2017 interview with 60 Minutes that he asked doctors to be forthright about his health.

“Some say 3 percent, some say 14 percent. You know it’s — it’s a very poor prognosis,” he said. “So I just said, ‘I understand. Now we’re going to do what we can, get the best doctors we can find and do the best we can, and at the same time celebrate with gratitude a life well lived.”

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