'Big Bad John': Free T-Shirts Honor John McCain at Trump's July Fourth Event - NBC Chicago

'Big Bad John': Free T-Shirts Honor John McCain at Trump's July Fourth Event

The T-shirts feature the Navy destroyer and its nickname, "Big Bad John"

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    Volunteers handed out 5,000 free T-shirts emblazoned with "USS John McCain" ahead of President Donald Trump's "Salute to America" celebrations on the National Mall.

    VoteVets, a left-leaning group founded by veterans, teamed with Rags of Honor to create the shirts that feature the Navy destroyer and its nickname, "Big Bad John."

    “Whether it was Sen. McCain, his father, his grandfather or his sons, the McCain family has given more to this country than most, and America’s birthday seems like a great time to honor that service and sacrifice,” said Mark Doyle, founder of Rags of Honor. “After all, people like them – and there aren’t many – made these kinds of celebrations possible.”

    The hashtag #McCain4th is currently trending on Twitter with about 86,000 tweets including the hashtag. Some show twitter users sporting the free T-shirts as they celebrate their Fourth of July. 

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    Trump repeatedly took aim at the late Arizona senator, beginning with a comment during the 2016 presidential campaign that he didn't think McCain was a hero because he was captured in Vietnam. McCain was tortured and held prisoner for more than five years.

    Trump's dislike for the late senator is so well known, White House staff reportedly asked the Navy to hide the USS McCain during the president's state visit to Japan in May.

    "While Trump is, you know, politicizing this event into something for his own personal gain, they wanted to stand up and say, 'Hey, let's honor a real American hero,'" organizer Kyle Shivers said.

    “We had a lot of policy battles with Sen. McCain, and fights on issues of war, but we always respected his service, and his sacrifice,” said Jon Soltz, Iraq War veteran and Chair of VoteVets. “July 4 is about coming together as a country, to celebrate what has bound us together since 1776 – the belief in something bigger than yourself.