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tv   Sen. Mc Cain Receives 2017 Liberty Medal  CSPAN  October 23, 2017 10:01am-11:25am EDT

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john mccain was honored by the national constitution center's 2017 liberty medal in philadelphia recently. before vice president joe biden delivered keynote remarks and presented senator mccain with war -- the award. this is about one hour and 20 minutes. >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the president and chief executive officer of the national constitution center , jeffrey rosen. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the national constitution center. [applause] >> it is an honor to welcome you on this meaningful location. -- occasion.
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as the national constitution center awards the 2017 liberty medal to senator john mccain. [applause] >> throughout his career, senator mccain has put his the devotion to the u.s. constitution above faction or party. he is the kind of independent citizen statesman james madison envisioned when he stressed that the u.s. constitution created not a direct democracy, but a representative republic. madison and the framers of the constitution believed that direct democracies have led in greece and rome to rule by demagogues and the mob. by contrast, in a representative republic, citizens would delegate power to enlighten representatives.
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"a chosen body of citizens whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations." it's especially meaningful that senator mccain will be awarded the liberty medal accompanied by the chair of the national constitution center vice president joe biden. [applause] >> vice president biden served in the senate with john mccain for more than two decades, and their willingness to work together on behalf of the united states of america represents a madisonian ideal that is now under siege.
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today, new populist forces and social media technologies are vulcanizing citizens into filter bubbles and echo chambers, speeding up public discourse in the process. the result is polarizing our media and elected officials and threatening values of thoughtful deliberation and public reason in precisely the way the framers feared. that's why the national constitution center's mission of constitutional education is so urgently important. in april 1988, one year after he was sworn into the senate, senator mccain became a co-sponsor of the bicentennial heritage act, which created the national constitution center. that act gave us an inspiring educational mission to disseminate information about the u.s. constitution on a nonpartisan basis in order to increase awareness and understanding of the u.s.
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constitution among the american people. 30 years later, increasing constitutional awareness and understanding is more necessary than ever. it is crucial that we bring together citizens of different perspectives on all media platforms to listen respectfully to constitutional arguments on all sides. we need to empower all americans to educate themselves about the constitution so that we the people can deliberate thoughtfully with each other and choose enlightened representatives like senator mccain. the future of liberty and democracy depends on constitutional education. as jefferson said, democracy cannot survive both ignorant and free.
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the centerpiece of a constitution center's education efforts is the online interactive constitution. it's received nearly 12 million hits since it launched in 2015. [applause] >> you can click on any provision of the constitution using this amazing online tool and find the leading conservative and liberal legal thinkers in america discussing what they agree about and what they disagree about. this wonderful platform is a model for the kind of thoughtful, most the partisan multi-partisan situation that madison considered essential for freedom and democracy in america. with your help, we need to bring it to learners across america and across the globe. -- around the globe. by spreading light and
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constitutional understanding, the national constitution center inspires all citizens to preserve, protect, and defend american liberty in the spirit of sacrifice and service exemplified by the heroic career of senator mccain. few among us will be called to the life of sacrifice and service that john mccain has devoted to the united states of america, but all of us are inspired by his example. on behalf of the national constitution center, for all you have done to preserve, protect, and defendant liberty in america -- defend liberty in america and across the globe, it's an honor to say thank you, senator mccain. [applause] >> john mccain's life has always been about freedom. >> he's truly one of america's heroes. >> the personification of courage and independence.
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>> he has what it takes to stand up, to speak up. >> if you could combine a cowboy with a scholar, that's what he is. >> john sidney mccain iii comes from a long legacy of service to country. >> his grandfather was an admiral. his father was an admiral. >> his family has served in every conflict since america's founding. >> it dates back all the way to general george washington's staff. >> senator mccain was born in august of 1936 at the naval air station in the u.s. controlled panama canal zone where his father was stationed. >> my dad had intense admiration and respect for his dad. he was a very small man. he was 5'4", but his presence was stunning. >> mccain's father was a submariner. his grandfather, a sailor who pioneered naval aviation strategy on aircraft carriers. as a boy, he admits a mix pride of his legacy and resentment that his course seems preordained. >> there was never any other
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consideration other than he would go to the naval academy. it made him a little bit rebellious. >> when he was 15, his parents sent him to a basketball high episcopal high school, a private boarding school in alexandria. >> >> he went around from base to base, it was easy was probably more worldly than the rest of us. >> bruce reinhardt was on the football team and wrestling squad with mccain, and remembers that even as a teenager, mccain was a nonconformist who pushed back against rules. >> the school had a system not unlike what you would find at the naval academy. >> mccain said he was considered the worst rat because he would frequently pick fights with his fellow students, challenge school authorities, and ignore school regulations. >> he earned the nickname punk, and i think he enjoyed that nickname. >> on one hand he could have taken an easy path through life, he was the son of a network, the
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n admiral the grandson of an , admiral, but he clearly wanted to make his own mark. >> after four years in the naval academy, he was eager to add his own paragraph to the family legacy, with a combat tour in vietnam. >> the call to duty is what they are all about. he not only wanted to go, he asked to go. >> at age 31, john mccain joined the squadron on the uss forestall. it was on the flight back in late july in 1967 that he had his first real brush with death. >> dad was on deck, his plane was going to be the next one. >> a power surge triggered the accidental launch of a rocket across the ship's flight deck, striking a fuel tank. >> there were sitting back there and trying to offload these bombs into the water. they were trying to get the fire out. >> so many men died that day. he rolled off the nose and ran. he always says how he is the
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luckiest guy he knows. i always felt he's the luckiest and unluckiest guy. >> after surviving, he could have gone home. instead, he volunteered for another tour on the uss arrest carrier that suffered it's own fire a year earlier. >> to him it wasn't about being a pilot in a war, he was serving his country. he signed up to do that. >> three months later, his plane was shot down in a bombing mission. >> i found myself falling towards the middle of a small lake in the city of hanoi with two broken arms, broken leg, and an angry crowd waiting to greet me. >> he had broken his arms and legs on ejection. his captors broke his shoulder with smashing blows from a rifle, then dumped them in an empty cell. >> we knew he'd been captured. we knew he was alive. as we learned later, he came close to death a couple of times. >> he was given medical treatment only after his captors learned his father was an
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admiral. >> [indiscernible] >> he was a potential propaganda piece because of my grandfather. they were trying to explain that exploit that to their advantage. >> his jailers offered him early release and a chance to escape his suffering. >> he said i'm not leaving. >> code of conduct. go home in the order of your shootdown. >> mccain would later learn that the day he was sent home, was the day his father was to be promoted commander of the entire pacific fleet. >> they thought they would secure a public relations coup by releasing him back to the states. >> it could have taken advantage of that, gotten out early. he did his duty and did the right thing. >> how many people, given the choice, would stay true to their code, true to their brothers who were there in the north vietnamese prison and refuse to go home? >> i said i must have been a hard decision. as it turned out for my dad, it was not a hard decision.
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>> his punishment was four days of beating. cracking his ribs, breaking his teeth, and re-breaking his arm. >> ernest hemingway has this the famous line, man can be destroyed, but not defeated. every time i think of that, i think of john because of his strong and relentless will live will to live and serve and fight for what he believes in. >> two years as a pow, he was placed in solitary confinement. >> it's a test of strength, of human dignity. >> by the time he joined his pow's, he weighed just over 100 pounds. his broken arms still useless. >> they put me in a cell with two other americans. i couldn't even feed myself. they did it for me. those men saved my life. >> the experience changed him from a rebel without a cause to a maverick on a mission. >> your powers are the mercy of your captor, and the only thing you hold onto is your ability to
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be faithful to your country. >> after 5.5 years, he was sent home in march of 1973. his time as a pow made him appreciate that america's freedom was an honor. with honor, comes obligation. he retired from the navy in 1981 and won a seat in congress the following year. >> he couldn't serve in the military anymore so he went to politics. >> as a member of the house and senate, he has been a champion of veterans. >> someone who always had the backs of the men and women of the u.s. military, no matter what. >> when president bill clinton called for normalizing relations with vietnam, mccain became a leader in the charge. >> one of the two key people, john kerry was the other one. >> he's made 22 trips to vietnam. >> we have to chase down every lead with respect to the potential that in america was still being held. >> and there is something really striking about a man who spent five and half years in a prisoner of war camp, going back. been 22 times gone
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>> we visited the hanoi hilton and i will never forget ever the , emotion of being shown the cell in which he spent a fair amount of time. >> he now is someone who's also viewed by the vietnamese as their best advocate in washington. >> family and colleagues will tell you he's still very much the rebel. ian streaka contrar a mile wide. i'm sure you heard the fiery mccain as an additive used to describe him. >> i said those guards watched over you are still going to group sessions all these years later trying to recover. >> the same courage that john showed in vietnam, he shows in congress almost every week. >> i remember i was getting some grief from local editorial boards of people because i was going after earmarks and egregious spending. i was on a flight with him and he came back to my seat, he put his finger on my chest and i
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am really in for it now. he said don't give up. you are doing the right thing. >> senator mccain has been a role model for those who are younger senators about how to be your own man. >> when he talks, the room goes quiet. people always know something important is going to be said. >> what's so unusual about john mccain is that combination of willingness to be a maverick and the real concern to the effective to make a difference. that is a very rare combination. >> if mccain got his straight speaking style from his mother, . >> absolute dynamo. 105 now and still going strong. >> he got his tireless work ethic from his dad. >> he's a tremendous worker. he always wants to be prepared and ready. >> how he does it physically i , don't know. we saw interns begging, i have to take a break because they couldn't keep up with him. >> john came back to the senate right after the diagnosis of brain cancer against the advice of his doctors. >> tough diagnosis to get, but an even tougher guy. >> he's consumed with doing his duty. >> he works like a sailor, he
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fights like a sailor, he's worth he swears like a sailor, and he is one of the greatest patriots i've ever met. >> he recognizes the need for america to be a voice for those who don't have much of a voice. >> somebody asked him, what should be the purpose of american foreign policy be? and he said i can't think of a better answer to that than the declaration of independence. every one of us is created equal and we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. >> he's always put his country first in everything. [applause] >> and now, please welcome the president of the university of pennsylvania, dr. amy gutmann. [applause] >> thank you. good evening, everyone, and what a good evening it is good . good evening. we gather at the national constitution center to honor a
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man renowned for, among other things, his deep respect for constitutional knowledge and tradition, and his abiding bipartisanship. two things in such short supply these days that we all had to visit a museum to see it on display. right? now, in all seriousness, how very moving it is that the career-long republican we celebrate tonight, by his is -- is going to be introduced by his good friend, i'm equally renowned democratic senator and united states vice president, joe biden. this is really a momentous evening. such distinctively bipartisan friendship underscores why we so warmly celebrate this year's liberty medal recipient. on the occasion of awarding the
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liberty medal to this great patriot of our time, benjamin franklin had the perfect words, of course. for those of you who don't know, he is the founder of the university of pennsylvania. after britain imposed punitive restrictions of liberty on the american colonies, franklin declared, "they who give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." nobody knows the truth of franklin's words better than this year's recipient of the liberty medal. for prisoners of war, concepts of safety and liberty ceased to be abstractions. the suffering they experience could defeat all but the strongest of wills. the man we honor tonight
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possesses such will. the man we honor tonight exemplifies our society's highest ideals with the deepest imaginable reserve of courage and conviction. he has devoted his life to securing and expanding liberty for people everywhere. we award the liberty medal tonight to a leader who, by virtue of both his ideals and his actions, not only crosses party lines and national borders, he transcends them. he is a man who has focused his life not on the tears that thunder, but on the ties that bind. he is an exemplary american, who routinely forgoes what is expedient to pursue what is just and what is right. our recipient shares with those
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who have come before him a lifelong devotion to the ultimate and noblest of human pursuits. liberty. the national constitution center was built to strengthen our pursuit of that purpose of liberty. tonight, we are so proud to continue that work by celebrating a national leader of immense distinction. he is among our longest serving statesman in the u.s. senate. he is a congressman before that and a naval pilot that before that. throughout a lifetime of service to country, to others, and to his own principles, he has been a warrior for our freedom. in uniform, he defended liberty. in government, he upholds it. in daily life, he adheres to it.
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at a time when people's faith in institutions and in many individuals has eroded, countless many look up to the man we honor tonight. we look to him as a moral voice. straight talking and upright, honestly imperfect, and all the braver for it. the life he has lived inspires us and gives us hope, no matter what our party affiliation. serving tirelessly in the cause of liberty, he is above all a person of honor. we see in him what we so fervently desire to see at work at our nation and around the world. tonight, we honor liberty tied to the utmost of courage as we celebrate and we salute our
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senator and our hero, senator john mccain. thank you, and thank you all for honoring this great public servant. [applause] >> thank you so much, amy. and thank you for your invaluable leadership and collaboration with the national constitution center. it's now my privilege to introduce a visionary patriot and great friend of america's veterans. he appreciates what senator mccain and his fellow veterans have sacrificed in providing for the common defense and protecting the constitution. howard schultz is the visionary founder, former ceo, and current executive chairman of starbucks.
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[applause] >> as you're about to hear, howard has a special passion for the well-being of america's veterans. in 2011, veterans sparked his conscience about personal responsibility as a result, . as a result, howard and his wife cheri schultz began to educate themselves about the 1% of americans who have served in the u.s. military. in 2013, starbucks pledged to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses in the next five years. when the company met that goal a year and a half ahead of schedule, starbucks pledged to hire 25,000 veterans by 2025. the following year, howard and sheree's family foundation launched onward veterans, which empowers post-9/11 vets and their families in their transitions to civilian life.
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and recognizing that many veterans struggle with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, the schultz family foundation pledged an initial $30 million to remedy and study these afflictions. [applause] >> with the invaluable work of the family foundation, howard and sheree continue to change the narrative about veterans transitioning veterans and military families who have sacrificed so much to protect america. ladies and gentlemen, for his service to america's veterans, please join me in thanking and welcoming howard schultz. [applause] mr. schultz: jeffrey, thank you for that warm introduction. vice president biden, senator mccain, ladies and gentlemen, it is a profound honor to stand
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here before you this evening. i also stand here with immense humility and emotion. as an entrepreneur and a business leader, i have long known that my life's journey was made possible by the promise of freedom conceived by the brave men and women who have fought to preserve that promise for centuries. yet, never in my lifetime have i been so mindful and at the same time so passionate about the shared responsibility we all have to live up to the ideals in which that promise was conceived. consider what happened right here at independence hall more than two centuries ago. farsighted statesmen of clashing beliefs came together in common purpose. values and rules of law were fiercely debated while bold, yet pragmatic principles informed the creation of our enduring constitution.
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among those principles was the need for individual and state sacrifice, so the country could achieve a higher purpose of unity. also among those principles was a call for a spirit of amity, so cooperation and collaboration could bridge ideological divides. our founding fathers were not perfect. but as we sit here tonight, how can we not be in awe of past leaders who invoke such simple wisdoms despite the complexities of their time? in the same vein, how can we not have immense gratitude or a for a leader of our time? for a sailor and a statesman who sits among us now, because his life story embodies the very -- virtuous principles of his father, his grandfather, and of our founding fathers. senator mccain, i stand here in awe of americans shared heritage
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-- america's shared heritage and with the utmost respect and gratitude for you, sir. here tonight, history lives among us. john mccain is one of millions of americans who have sworn allegiance to our constitution. he first took the oath as a rambunctious 17-year-old in 1954 as he entered the united states naval academy. he repeated that oath many times when he was commissioned as a naval officer, when he was elected to represent the great state of arizona in congress, and each of the six times he was elected to the united states senate. senator, as a citizen who has admired you from afar, i must believe that every time you took the oath of allegiance to the constitution that you were also pledging your heart to our country. more than an oath of loyalty,
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you pledged an oath of love. with that in mind, speaking tonight has given me an opportunity to further appreciate what it means to love something as you love our country and the responsibilities that come with it. tonight, i would like to speak about such love and responsibility in the context of both our country and senator mccain's life. let me begin with a story we all know. in 1968, john mccain's navy jet was shot down. the force of that ejection broke his right leg and both of his arms. we recall how he was taken prisoner by the north vietnamese. we wince to remember how his fractures were set without anesthesia and the additional damage doctors inflicted upon his body. we ask ourselves, would we have the metal, the fortitude, to endure such pain or the sheer will to survive in such horrific circumstances? these traits alone are worthy of
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our respect and admiration. yet, it is another part of this story that for me showcases the incredible depth of the senator's character. many of you know that our nation's military has a code of honor during wartime. american prisoners go home in the order in which they were captured. those held the longest leave first. less than a year after john mccain was captured, he received a stunning offer. he was free to go home to america. the offer came soon after his father was named commander of the american forces in the pacific. the young mccain knew that his early release would be a propaganda coup for the north vietnamese. he summoned the courage of his convictions and refused his freedom. his jailers warned that if he stayed, he would suffer dire consequences. yet still, this young man volunteered to endure the horrors of torture and the
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possibility of death because he understood what it meant to love his country and the depth of sacrifice that comes with it. hearing this story again, it is easy to see the brave and honorable warrior. we must also see a true patriot who has sacrificed and revealed what our founding fathers believed in. in the years that followed, his -- inears of captivity the years that followed his five years of captivity, his love of country manifested itself in another form of public service. in congress and his willingness to put country over party has preserved the democracy we have all inherited. i am speaking of his long-standing belief in reform to money in politics and his unwavering moral authority to ensure human treatment of all prisoners of war. i'm speaking to his unyielding
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support for the brave men and women in the military and his ongoing efforts to make sure they come home to the gratitude, respect, and the opportunity they deserve. i'm speaking of the moments that he has really taken great political risk to determine and demonstrate the courage of conviction on the senate floor. most recently with his vote not to dismantle the affordable care act in haste. [applause] mr. schultz: yes. can we hear that one more time? [applause] mr. schultz: in reviewing his body of work, it is easy to see a maverick. i see a true statesman. senator mccain is a leader who
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is willing to put the well-being of the country above his own interests. his love of country shines in his ability to look beyond partisan differences. as an example, senator mccain's uncommon friendship with morse udall comes to mind. congressman udall was a liberal icon, yet he reached out to a young republican as a friend and mentor. they developed a close friendship that lasted until his death from parkinson's disease. he had once been among the most powerful leaders in washington, but almost none of his former colleagues came calling when he as he was leading ill at a veterans hospital not far from the capital, but it was senator mccain who visited quite often. senator, you would arrive with newspaper clips, and you would sit at your friend's bedside and ,. just as he reached out to you in
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the beginning, you reached out to him in the end with empathy and with true compassion. hearing this story, it is so clear the unique and unusual man we are speaking about and what a dear friend he was. we must also see a man with a desire to embrace people's humanity, regardless of their politics. this is no small feat in the today's vitriolic halls in our country. senator mccain is a man of strong conviction, yes, but he also embodies a spirit that helps our founding fathers find common ground. leaders of senator mccain's ilk look beyond political difference and beyond the past. i ask all of us to reflect back to the physical and the emotional horrors that a young pilot suffered as a prisoner of
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in north vietnam. consider where we are today. the united states and vietnam are nations that exchange tourists and cultures. this never would have happened, occurred if senator mccain had not found it within himself to extend a hand to former adversaries and work with a kerryent clinton and john to establish a communication between two countries that were once at war. it is a model of forgiveness. if john mccain was able to look beyond a brutal past, so could america. [applause] as we recall john mccain's role in our reconciliation with vietnam, we see a torchbearer of values and
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we see a man who was going to open his heart and his mind with the same foresight and collaboration that our founding fathers called upon. it is easy to recount the tales of great men. it is harder to follow in the footsteps of greatness. every generation needs leaders capable of such feats. our democracy remains a great experiment. all of us must see ourselves as innovators and protectors. that is why founding fathers never die. they exist in memory and in practice. you, senator mccain are a , founding father of our time. [applause] you are a man who fights to have courage, compassion, decency, and humanity.
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every independence day, we are -- mall is filled with americans to celebrate the birth of our nation and millions of other spend the day with family and friends. john mccain has his own tradition. for 10 of the past 11 years, he has celebrated july 4 with american troops serving overseas. he makes these trips without a hint of obligation. being among the men and women in uniform is a sincere joy for him. his face lights up. there is a bounce to his step. he has said there is no place she would rather the. those trips and all that he does often keep him from family and home. to cindy and the seven mccain children, on behalf of all americans, our gratitude for your sacrifice is an extraordinary opportunity to say
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thank you to the entire family. [applause] mr. schultz: in sharing your beloved husband with us, we feel your love of country. senator, you hail from uncommon stock. your grandfather served in the navy his entire adult life, and your father entered the naval academy at the age of 16 and spent 41 years in uniform. both were remarkable wartime heroes. you humble us with your service. you have worn the cloth of the nation for most of your adult life. yours is an uncommon love and commitment to country with no peer in modern life. john mccain, captain of the united states navy, recipient of the silver star, recipient of the legion of merit, recipient
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of the distinguished flying cross, recipient of the purple heart, united states senator, hero, statesman. senator mccain, there are some who question what the nation has become. they wonder about our commitment to founding values, our resolve, and our love of fellow americans. perhaps they do not know where to look. looking at the man that we are honor here tonight i am , confident in our potential to live up to the best in our past and to forge a future that is worthy of all of americans, especially the great americans who inspire us like john mccain. thank you very much. [applause]
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john mccain: this place is important. the work we do is important. >> in late july, returning to the senate after surgery, he took to the floor to articulate his philosophy of governance. john mccain: we are spinning our wheels on important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win with out reaching without help from across the aisle. to workwe have to lose together to find those solutions? >> he told me that the partisanship has to stop. joe lieberman: he was saying let's go back to regular order. ,what does that mean? there are committees that have republicans and democrats and they work out the problems. jeff flake: one of the biggest value he adds is institutional memory. of how the senate used to operate. chris wallace: ronald reagan used to say, i would rather have 80% of something than 100% of nothing. i think that is the way john mccain feels.
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>> it demonstrates a model of service and a desire to maintain the american global leadership that i think is worthy of emulation. >> a true statesman of the senate john mccain has led , efforts on bipartisan legislation throughout his career. chuck schumer: he and i would sit in the room. he led the republican side and i d the democratic side. his persistence in making sure that we came up with a bill that would get support of democrats and republicans was amazing. >> john mccain was a man of courage not only in vietnam, but he has been a courageous guy in congress. mitch mcconnell: we have served together for 30 years. i have been on the same side, opposite sides. he is a fierce opponent and a loyal friend. >> there was no better example of that than his relationship with ted kennedy. they would fight like cats and dogs on the floor, and when they came off of the floor and be
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, they were true friends. >> cindy credits his success to another maverick. >> when john was a freshman congressman udall took him under , his wing. >> udall was one of the most well-known members of congress. >> he came to john and said, let's work together. that taught john a great deal. >> we are an important check on the power of the executive. >> in his speech to the senate, mccain did not just implore his colleagues to come together. he defended the constitutional role of congress, as envisioned by the founding fathers. senator mccain: whether or not we are a member of the same party, we are not subordinates, we are the president's equal. >> he challenges us to move fast past partisanship and try to do right by the people web higher who hired us. fighter, warrior for what is
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right and what is fair. he shares the belief that we have to get back to the basics of leadership and the basics in the constitution because it is that respect for the country that will allow us to heal the wounds of vietnam, civil rights, most recent times. mitch mcconnell: he approaches every issue asking, what is the best outcome that can be achieved? >> i think there is no one who is more deserving of this honor than john mccain. announcer: ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the 47th vice president of the united states, joe biden. [applause] joe biden: thank you very much.
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i am assuming that you are standing because you are cold and you would like to stretch. howard chilton is going to come up and repeat his speech. [laughter] joe biden: howard, that was really good. for real. ladies and gentlemen, i am deeply honored to be here tonight as part of this night, serving this year as the chair of the national constitution center board of trustees. it has afforded me many opportunities, but none as good as this opportunity with my dear friend. my mom, i met his mom and he met knew my mom had an expression. , she would say, look at me. look in my eyes.
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i am not exaggerating. she would say, look at me. remember, you are defined by your courage and you are really redeemed by your loyalty. that was her code. you are defined by your courage, and you are redeemed by your loyalty. courage and loyalty. i can think of no better description of the man we friend,ring tonight, my john mccain. my mom knew john and respected him deeply. she said, which i never told john, i was one of five brothers from scranton who all served in the military. all in world war ii. her number two brother, and bobby casey knows this because we lived several blocks from one another in green ridge. her number two brother was
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ambrose finnigan. he still is remembered in scranton as a leader. he was shot down and the body was never found in papua new guinea. every time something came up about john, she would talk about how he reminded her of her brother, ambrose. she thought ambrose and she knew john and she thought that ambrose and john were the embodiment of courage. you know about john, his grandparents, his father, how he was called to duty, his heroism, and on october 26, 1967, 50 years ago this month when his plane was shot down. it is hard to remember. 50 years. god almighty.
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i was a mere child. i was in third grade. i don't remember for sure. but, you know, the infamous hanoi hilton. as you know and have heard time and again, and john bears the scars of those brutal beatings and damage done to him, you also after about eight months, you also know about the offer of release. i have had the opportunity as the vice president to sit on the stage with the president and confer a number of medals of honor. i am sure it has occurred, but i cannot think of anyone -- given i am aware of, i am sure it has occurred, but given the opportunity, after knowing what it meant to stay in that prison, knowing what would happen, given
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the opportunity to leave, no matter what the code was, imagine. i want you to think about it. imagine in real terms. again, not having to wonder what he would face by refusing to leave. knowing the excruciating pain and isolation. he stayed. he stayed. that man spent almost five more years in that hellhole of captivity. inhumane conditions. 1,967 days. 1,967 days. you have all had pain,
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suffering. we have all had it in our lives. you know sometimes it is getting up one day at a time, putting one foot in front of the other, facing the pain, mental or physical. as i have said, i have been privileged to meet a fair number of heroes in my life. like john, i have been in and out of afghanistan and iraq and over 35 times. i have had the honor of putting silver stars on people and i . i have seen these kids. i don't ever remember seeing someone who has kept his wits and senses about him. i remember when you were released. we all do. i remember. i was a senator for only four months. 1973, and i 14,
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remember you getting off of that plane, pal. i didn't know you, but i remember that salute and i we saw tonight. i remember how you were greeted and how you greeted and how you made no distinction between you and all of your fellow pow at s at clark air force base in the philippines. folks, seeing that handsome young flyer who pushed beyond the bounds of human endurance to come out the other side, still standing, still proud, still unbowed, i thought, my god. i remember talking with ted my friend ted kaufman. ,who you ended up serving with. he was my chief of staff and a fine guy. i remember saying that i want to meet that guy. never expecting to be able to do
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it. we had an expression in the senate you have to excuse a , point of personal privilege. i realize what i'm talking about is personal. john chose to remain in the navy . he had an awful lot of other opportunities. he chose a life of service. to him, duty always dictated what to do. he stayed. you can imagine my surprise. in 1977, i did meet john mccain. he was an officer in the naval liaison office. i was the youngest member of the senate foreign relations committee. traveln opportunity to all over the world, and with john, i have met every world leader, without exception, since 1976. in the beginning, in one of the
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most consequential days of my career, and we all look act and back on our careers and think about things and moments that have had an impact on how your career moves forward, i not only got to work with john mccain. i got to know him, and i got to know an awful lot about him and , and he got to know an awful lot about me. we traveled hundreds of thousands of miles together. we got to know each other's families. sitting on my lawn and having a picnic with his family when he was in the navy. my son, bo biden, army, bronze star, other medals, looked at john with nothing but admiration.
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my son hunter got to know him personally. they got to talk to him. they took the measure of the man and they got to learn from him. , they really cared about you , john, and i know that you know that. john and i have traveled the world together. as i said, he jokes and said that he carried my bags. the son of a gun never carried my bags. he was supposed to, dammit, but he never carried my bags. he was a young liaison officer , and i was a young senator. whether we were going to germany or china, whenever i went, i asked john to come with me. on many of those co-dels, when delegations back in the day when we like each other and talked with each other, we would travel, democrat
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and republican. and our spouses. on many of those, jill was a me as well and she , got to know a lot about john and i think that she loved him too. , traveling was a tradition we kept up when john was elected to the senate. i never saw him is just the liaison officer. i pulled him in. i sought his advice. i would meet with world leaders and i would say, what do you think? this is what i'm going to say. do think this makes sense? this is what i am thinking. he became a friend and an advisor. a little later on, i served the same role for john when he was thinking about running. we talked for hours about the state of the world, specific assignments, our families about , what we wanted to do with our lives, and i learned a lot about this man.
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then, we would talk about what we were going to do. how we were thinking about what we were going to do and john would talk about maybe going back to arizona, going to arizona and getting involved in politics. to the chagrin of some of my democratic friends, i encouraged strongly encouraged john to do it. i knew. i knew when he ran for the house, it didn't surprise me at all that he won. it didn't surprise me when he ran for the senate and won. it pleased me that we got to serve together. that same period of time was when john said that the khmer rouge had been elected. that is another story. it did not surprise me when he became leader of his party. did not surprise me when he saw the nomination for president
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because i thought in the beginning he had that capacity. in 2000, i thought he should have been the nominee. from my perspective, it all pointed in that direction from the very beginning. john will remember, i called him after a couple of those vicious attacks in south carolina and i offered to help him. i said, i said, where do you want me. ? pick the town, the city, and the place. in classic john, he said, i think that would hurt me more than it would help, but thanks. remember that, john? boy, was my team angry as hell with me because i was prepared to do it. i tell you what did surprise me. i did not expect -- i did not expect that and it caused me , some consternation, although i was proud to be picked as vice president and serve with
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president obama. i did not expect that we would be on imposing tickets in 2008. -- opposing tickets in 2008. never once did i ever say anything that wasn't positive about john in that campaign. i never made it any secret about john being my friend. i didn't talk about it too much because it would have hurt him. not a joke. john and i used to debate in the 1990's. we would go over and sit with one another on the number democratic or republican side of the floor. i knew that something had
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changed, and so did you. you might not remember this. my colleague from delaware might know this. we both got into our caucuses and we were chastised by our leaders. why were we talking and sitting with one another and showing such friendship in the middle of debates? this was after the gingrich revolution in the 1990's. they did not want us sitting together. that is when things began to change. not between john and me, but things began to change. for john, it was always duty, honor, country. that is john. john understands what it means to sacrifice for what you believe in. to put the greater good ahead of personal feelings.
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president kennedy said moral courage in politics is a rare commodity that is encouraged on the battlefield. john has shown moral courage. he is a man who was terrorized, victimized, and abused. as a u.s. senator, as pointed out, he joined john kerry in normalizing relationships with vietnam. always country-first. always country-first. here is what john said in 1995. back in we have looked anger at vietnam for too long . john saying i cannot allow , whatever resentment i incurred during my time in vietnam to hold me from doing what is clearly my duty.
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everybody talks about these virtues. this is what the guy did. this is not only what he said. duty. duty. duty. it is the marrow running through that solid steel spine of this guy. it as i have said, and john knows, even after our toughest fights, john would call me and say, you know, biden should be off of the ticket and he said, i don't really mean that. they made me say that. john and i have been given
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awards about bipartisanship and we don't understand why we should get an award for bipartisanship. i have said that i know that, if i called john in the middle of the night and say, i am at seventh and vine in st. louis and i cannot explain why, but i need you to come now for me, he would get on the airplane and he would go. i guarantee that. so would i for him. crossing the island locking arms is good for the country. the part we did not talk about that i want to state for the record is that john is a man of significant intellect, deep conviction, and unmatched
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character. if you allow me a point of personal privilege again, as we used to say in the senate, how much you are example of kurds and loyalty inspired my -- of courage and loyalty inspired my beau to give up his attorney general seat to go over to iraq for a year. it was you that was going. john, when he received his cancer diagnosis, he also found strength in the courage you have demonstrated throughout your whole life. i am sure that he would not have been surprised that, after your diagnosis, you took to the senate for to remind us all, all of us who choose to hold office, democrats and republicans, what
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our responsibility is. first, to the nation, beyond ourselves, our parties. we felt that clarion call to duty and you extended it and turned everyone around. you said, what greater cause could we hope to serve than helping america to be strong, aspiring, an international beacon and the right to freedom and justice. what greater cause. that is what it has always been for four decades. i have benefited from having
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john mccain as a confidant, counselor, and friend. we have benefited from his unwavering surface. i -- to paraphrase ernest hemingway -- we grow stronger in all of our broken parts. john, you have been broken many times, physically and otherwise, and you have always grown stronger. what you do not really understand, in my opinion, is how much courage you give the rest of us. it matters. so, with your powerful words in our ears, a life of tireless work to secure the blessings of
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liberty to the people the world over, it is my great pleasure to present you with the 2018 the dirty metal. ladies and gentlemen, jeffrey rosen. -- the 2018 liberty medal. ladies and gentlemen, jeffrey rosen. >> thank you for those moving and significant words and for your service as the chair. it is now my great pleasure and honor to invite the vice
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president to award the liberty medal to john mccain. joe biden: i am not going to put it around his neck because he gets animated and i think it will hurt him when he is speaking. >> senator mccain, you have honorably upheld the united states constitution as a member of the senate and as a patriotic leader and you have protected liberty at home and around the globe. for your life and sacrifice, it is the greatest honor to award you the liberty medal.
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john mccain: thank you, my old dear friend. thank you. those were mostly undeserved kind words. the vice president and i have known each other for more than 40 years. we knew each other when we were young, handsome, and smarter than everybody else, but too modest to say so. joe was a senator and i was a liaison to the senate and my duties included escorting senate delegations overseas and, in that capacity, i supervised the luggage.
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that could require that i carry someone else's bag. once or twice, that turned out to be the young senator from delaware. i have resented it ever since. joe has heard me joke about that before and i hope that he has heard about my profession of gratitude for his friendship and love over these many years. it has meant a lot to me. we served in the senate together for over 20 years during some event full times as we passed from young men to the fossils that appear before you this evening. we did not always agree on the issues and we often argued passionately. we believe in each other's patriotism and sincerity. we believed in the institution
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we were privileged to serve in and our mutual responsibility to make the place work and to find solutions to our problems. we believed in the country and the indispensability to international peace and stability and the progress of humanity. through it all, whether we argued or agreed, he was good company. you all know he is good company. thank you, old friend, for your company and service to america. thank you to the national constitution center and everybody associated with it. thank you for that video and for all of the generous complements paid to me this evening. i am aware of the prestigious company the liberty medal places
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me in and i am humbled by that. i will try my best not to prove to one worthy of it. some years ago, i was present at an event where an earlier recipient spoke about america's values and the sacrifices made for them. it was 1991 and i was attending the ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the attack on pro-harbor. the world war ii veteran, at suitable -- estimable patriot, gave a moving speech at the uss arizona memorial. i remember it well. his voice was thick with emotion at the end of his address. i imagine that he was thinking of the brave americans who lost their lives there on december 7, 1941, but the friends that he
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had served with and lost in the pacific, where he had been the youngest aviator. look at the water here. clear and quiet. one day, what seems another lifetime, it wrapped its arms around the finest sons any nation could ever have and they carried them to a better world. he could barely get out the last line. may god bless them and may god bless america, the most wondrous nation on earth. [applause] the most wondrous land on earth, indeed. i have served this wondrous land. it has not been perfect service and there were times when the
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country would have benefited from a little less of my help. i tried to deserve the privilege as best i can and i have been repaid 1000 times over with adventures, good company, the says of serving something more important than myself -- the satisfaction of serving something more important than myself and being part of the story of america. i am so grateful. what a privilege it is to serve this beautiful, bountiful, brave, magnificent country. with all of our flaws, mistakes, frailties of human nature, with all of the rancor and the anger of our politics, we are blessed. we are living in the land of the
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free, the land where anything is possible, the land of the immigrant's stream, the land where the storied past is forgotten in the rush to the a match and future. the land that reinvents itself. the land that reinvents itself and realizes sacrificing for an ideal. the land where you can go from rebellion and from the bottom of your class to your party's nominee for president. we are blessed and we have been a blessing to humanity. the international order we have built from the ashes of world war and that we defend to this day has liberated more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history.
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this wondrous land -- [applause] this wondrous land has shed the blood of the finest patriots to help make another and better world. as we did so, we made our own civilization more just, freer, and more prosperous than the america that had existed when i watched my father go off to war. to fear the world we have organized and led and to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain the last and best hope of earth for some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solutions for
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problems -- [applause] it is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that americans have consigned to the ashheap of history. we are a land of ideals and not blood and soil. we are the custodian of those ideals. we have done great good in the world and that leadership has had cost. we have become wealthy as we did. we have a moral obligation to continue and we would bring shame on ourselves if we did not.
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we will not thrive in a world where ideas are absent and we would not deserve to. i am the lucky yet guy on earth and i have served america's cause, the cause of our security and the security of our friends. i have not always served it well and i have not always even appreciated what i was serving. among the compensations of old age is the focus of hindsight and i see that i was part of something important that drew me a long, even when i was diverted by other interests. i was, knowingly or not, along for the ride. america made the future better than the past. i have enjoyed every single day
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of it. the good ones and the not so good ones. i have been inspired by the service of better patriots then i. i have seen people make sacrifices for people who were strangers to them, but for our common humanity. they were sacrifices harder then what was asked of me. i have seen the good they have done, the lives freed from tierney, the hope they having courage, the dreams they made achievable. may god less them, america, and give us the strength, wisdom, generosity, and compassion to do our duty for this land and the world that counts on us. the world still looks to the example and the leadership of america to become another and better place. what greater cause could anyone
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ever served. thank you for this. i will treasure it. >> congratulations on receiving the liberty medal. you have devoted your life to the democracy and we all are you a great debt of gratitude. >> senator mccain's life is a life of fighting and defending liberty for all. he is so deserving of this medal.
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george w. bush: he is a man of compassion and courage. his voice is needed in the senate as much as ever. i thank you for dedicating your work to the cause of liberty and we think the national constitution center for honoring this fine man and send our very best wishes to the entire family. >> please welcome the united states naval academy glee club under the director of --
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[glee club performs "america"]
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[applause] >> about-face.
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announcer: good night and thank you for attending the 2017 liberty medal ceremony. >> congress is back today. the there's six bills on the calendar today including one the smugglingbat of the drug fentanyl.
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to take upuse plans budget resolution pass bid the senate. on thursday.l vote the senate will be back this at 3:00 eastern on c-span 2, lawmaker will consider emergencyllion funding bill for hurricane and fire relief already approved by the house. to advance the bill set for 5:30 eastern. senate live on c-span 2. coming up live today conference on countering violent extremism. scheduled par participants inclg strategist, steve bannon. the hudsonhosted by institute. it starts 12:15 eastern on live on c-span.org or listen with the free c-span radio app. look at press coverage of the trump

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