LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles residents on Sunday remembered the late John McCain for being more than just a campaign slogan.

He didn’t just say “Country first.” He embodied it.

His dedicated to his country touched people across the nation.

And as CBS2’s Laurie Perez found, that dedicated also touched people around the Southland.

He was praised for not just what he said but for how he said it.

The Straight-Talk Express helped catapult McCain to national prominence. He represented Arizona eight times in Congress.

And while his express didn’t make a landing stop at the White House, his two presidential runs earned him the respect of many.

In the hours since his death, many recalled the time in 2008 he set one of his own supporters straight when she suggested then candidate Barack Obama was “an Arab” — and with negative connotations.

He gently took the mic from her hands and said, “No, ma’am, no ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with.”

“I was struck by the time he told that woman that Obama was not a Muslim. That showed some, some sand I think,” says Michael Harpster of Pasadena.

Sand or grit, bolstered perhaps by his more than five years as a POW in Vietnam, many said that also defined his life beyond politics.

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“I think his courage in staying in the concentration camp when he could have gone home speaks to his character. I didn’t always agree with his politics but it’s always sad when someone like that passes,” says Holly Klotz, also from Pasadena.

Many on social media also were touched by McCain’s dedication in defending the country as a vet.

Vincent Miller tweeted, “I dare you to say anything negative about him. Veterans will not stand for it.”

Even those with less in common with the Senator can relate to his reputation as a maverick.

Months after his cancer diagnosis in 2017, he returned to the Senate to cast the deciding vote that stopped the repeal of Obamacare.

Milena tweeted, “Democrats aren’t honoring Senate McCain because we agreed with him on anything. We are honoring him because he was a patriot. This is what we mean when we say country before party.”

And finally, McCain is remembered for trying to unite the country.

“He was a unifying figure in a very polarizing time right now and I think we’re just, I’m, gonna miss him,” said Pasadena resident Ming Wang.

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