The prisoners' Christmas celebration that year (1971) proved to be another defining experience for McCain.
For weeks, prisoners had demanded an English-language Bible to conduct a proper Christmas observance. The guards eventually relented and allowed one prisoner access to a Bible for 30 minutes.
McCain was chosen. Using tiny pieces of broken pencil lead, McCain copied the Nativity story down on scrap paper. And on the evening of December 25, 1971, the prisoners held their service with the Lord's Prayer and Christmas carols as McCain recounted the birth of Christ. At the end, all sang, with much weeping, "Silent Night".