Cindy McCain calls on people to 'get into the arena' to honor late husband

Cindy McCain walks with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, followed by children Jack, Bridget, Jimmy and Andrew Thursday, as the plane carrying the body of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (Source: AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Cindy McCain is urging people to "get into the arena and fight" for a greater cause as a way to honor her late husband Republican senator, John McCain.

"Since his passing, thousands of people have asked how they can do something to honor Sen. McCain. I'll tell you how: Join me in the arena. Fight for a greater cause," she wrote in an op-ed in USA Today published Friday.

[RELATED: How Cindy McCain forged her own political identity]

She wrote that John demanded "the best possible leadership and support for our armed forces, or to empower freedom fighters against dictators around the world, or to demand that perpetrators of torture and human rights abuses be punished, or to make sure our native American communities are treated with dignity and respect."

Days after her husband was laid to rest at the Naval Academy Cemetery this past weekend, McCain said she is grateful for all the kind messages about him.

She added, "John's memory inspires me to be in the arena every day."

McCain's op-ed comes after speculation over whether she would be appointed to finish her husband's Senate term, though Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ended up tapping former US Sen. Jon Kyl, whom McCain called a "dear friend," for the job.

[SPECIAL SECTION: The life of Sen. John McCain]

Though she isn't joining the Senate, McCain made clear in her op-ed she's planning on engaging in the issues her husband championed.

She declared that the McCain Institute for International Leadership is "now my home and my mission."

Founded in 2012, the McCain Institute at the Arizona State University is a nonprofit "dedicated to advancing character-driven global leadership based on security, economic opportunity, freedom and human dignity."

Sen. McCain, who died at the age of 81 last month from brain cancer, was a naval aviator, Vietnam veteran, a prisoner of war, a two-time presidential candidate and a six-term senator for Arizona. At his memorial service in Washington, which was attended by his friends, family, and political giants, there was praise for his life and legacy, but also frequent lamentations of the nation's current political climate.

"With his passing, America inherently understood that this is the kind of leadership we want," Cindy McCain wrote in her op-ed. "That this is the kind of country we want to be. And that it is now up to us — all of us — to get into the arena and fight."

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