McCain’s “Cross In Dirt” Story Questioned

In a book, at campaign stops and in an ad John McCain tells a story about a North Vietnamese prison guard drawing a cross in the dirt:

In his 1999 memoir, Faith of My Fathers

“We both stood wordlessly looking at the cross until, after a minute or two, he rubbed it out and walked away. I saw my good Samaritan often after the Christmas when we venerated the cross together.”

In his campaign ad in December, he adds mention of “the true light of Christmas”:

“We stood wordlessly looking at the cross, remembering the true light of Christmas. I will never forget that no matter where you are, no matter how difficult the circumstances, there will always be someone who will pick you up.”

At the Saddleback Civil Forum:

“For a minute there, it was just two Christians worshipping together.”

Well guess what, a Kos diarist has come up with something interesting: Cross in the Dirt" story stolen from Solzhenitsyn,

A story about Alexander Solzhenitsyn from his times in the Soviet Gulags.

Slowly he looked up and saw a skinny old prisoner squat down beside him. The man said nothing. Instead, he used a stick to trace in the dirt the sign of the Cross. The man then got back up and returned to his work.
As Solzhenitsyn stared at the Cross drawn in the dirt his entire perspective changed. He knew he was only one man against the all-powerful Soviet empire. Yet he knew there was something greater than the evil he saw in the prison camp, something greater than the Soviet Union. He knew that hope for all people was represented by that simple Cross. Through the power of the Cross, anything was possible.

The source of that story about Solzhenitsyn is The Sign of the Cross, Fr. Luke Veronis, In Communion, issue 8, Pascha 1997 but clearly the story was known before 1997 for Fr. Veronis to cite it here. Update – the source is Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, published in the West in 1973.

In the winter of 1974, unbound and mimeographed samizdat copies of The Gulag Archipelago began being surreptitiously passed between Soviet citizens. These initial readers were normally given 24 hours to finish the work before passing it on to the next person, requiring the reader to spend an uninterrupted day and night to get through the work. Years later, this initial generation of Soviet readers could still recall who had given them their copy, to whom they had passed it on, and who they had trusted enough to discuss their thoughts about the book.

Here is McCain in his ad:

Here is McCain, being “reluctant” to tell this “powerful story” about his “faith”:

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