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“I think John recognized that for our democracy to work, we have to continually get involved and it matters that our leaders try to be as honest and transparent as possible. He believed politics should not exploit divisions, but rather, elevate debate and create a sense of community around a common creed."

- Barack Obama


John McCain: For Whom The Bell Tolls (2020) - Documentary Feature - Learning - Life Stories

Screening Guide

This Screening Guide is designed as a tool for high school classroom teachers and facilitators to incorporate excerpts of John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls and over 28 hours of additional interview footage in the Interview Archive on the Kunhardt Film Foundation website. These materials are an informative and inspiring complement to teaching US history, government, and civics. They illustrate the significance of bipartisanship, moral leadership, and ethical decision-making. Through a rich visual retelling of McCain’s causes and alliances, a portrait of a man dedicated to ideas, rather than party, emerges. This guide contains background information on McCain’s formative years in the military, his time as a POW, and his actions and legacy as a US Senator. The Learning Objectives invite audiences to:

*Recognize the significance of the McCain family’s commitment to military service and sacrifice, and the values it engendered in him.

*Understand McCain’s political career through the lens of friendship, reform, independent thinking, and leadership.

*Reflect on the current era of partisanship in Congress and what McCain’s role might have been if he were still living.

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“We all have the one virtue we aspire to most. For McCain, it’s courage. He admires it in others, and he insists upon it on himself. And courage comes in many forms—the kind he displayed in Vietnam, but also intellectual courage and moral courage in politics.”

- David Brooks


26 full-length interviews from McCain's family, political allies and adversaries, journalists, and colleagues collected in the production of the documentary provide a unique perspective on his life and legacy.

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