John McCain left a roadmap, let’s honor him by following it

It's going to be okay. It’s going to be okay.”

I was a 20-year-old college junior when a seemingly fearless U.S. Sen. John McCain spoke these reassuring words after I’d waited 30 minutes in line to shake his hand. A few months earlier, I’d been on my way to work as a House intern when the World Trade Center fell, the Pentagon burned, and a plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.

I had come to love the Capitol and all it represented, and I was scared as hell when I saw our nation come under attack on Sept. 11, 2001. And it wasn’t until Dec. 4, when John McCain spoke to us at the University of Maryland, that I was truly convinced we would be okay.

Despite the fears my classmates and I had that day, he had big hopes for what we could do for America.

“There is not a doubt in my mind that young Americans are as patriotic, if not more patriotic, than my generation,” he said, adding America must “give young people the opportunity to serve causes greater than their self-interest.”

On Sunday, this tireless patriot will be laid to rest. And as Congress returns to Washington, we should take swift action to honor him.

No, not with a moment of silence or a building named in his honor; though I oppose neither, he probably would’ve sheepishly waved them off while he lived.

McCain was a man of action, and we should honor him with action.

In his parting statement to America, he observed our nation is weakest “when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down.” It’s an astute observation from a man who reached across the aisle on comprehensive immigration reform in 2005, working with then Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) to craft the first major legislation combining increased border security with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already living here.

We can honor him by finally getting this job done. We all support true border security, not a costly, useless and absurd wall — so let’s do it. We know there must be a path to citizenship both as a logistical reality and a moral imperative — so let’s do it.

Read the full op-ed on Mic: