In the story McCain recalls one of his Vietnamese captors first secretly loosening his bonds when he was tied in a stress position, and months later, on Christmas, furtively scratching a "cross in the dirt" in a moment of silent communion.
A footnote: Faith of My Fathers was the first of several books co-authored Mark Salter, McCain's speechwriter and close aide. Whatever McCain's alleged reticence about his POW experiences, co-author Salter has never been shy about mining their political value. A May '08 WSJ profile of Salter by Monica Langley recounts:
When ad maker Mark McKinnon wanted to use newly discovered footage taken when Sen. McCain was captured during the Vietnam War, the candidate refused, saying it was exploitative, and that his visible injuries made him look vulnerable. Mr. Salter "was my ace in the hole," Mr. McKinnon says. "He persuaded John -- and he's the only one who could have."That's not to say that Salter, who according to McCain "writes the way I think," could not have elicited new memories from McCain, or convinced him to recall publicly stories he may have previously kept private. Make of it what you may, the story's public life appears to date from the beginning of McCain's career as a presidential candidate.