tv 2017 Liberty Medal Ceremony - John Mc Cain CSPAN August 26, 2018 12:51pm-2:28pm EDT
six terms in the senate and two presidential run spirit the first time in 2000 and again in 2008 when he became the republican nominee. served in vietnam where he was held captive and tortured after his plane was shot down in 1967. he remained a prisoner of war for 5.5 years for his release. last year, senator mccain was honored for his service to the country when joe biden presented him with the national constitution center's 2017 liberty medal. we will take a look at that ceremony. [applause] evening, everyone and welcome to the 2017 liberty medal ceremony honoring a great american hero, u.s. senator john mccain.
ceremony will begin at 7:00. in the meantime, i would like to take this opportunity to offer thanks and share special messages. as you know, the national constitution center inspires place wherethe only people across america and from around the world can come together to learn, debate, and ,elebrate the vision of freedom of human freedom in history, the u.s. constitution. to educate and inspire so many citizens about the meaning of the cup to two should. -- the constitution. it is because of you that we can engage in this work. on behalf of jeff rosen and the team, i want to thank all of you , our donors, partners, and visitors and our board of trustees for everything that you do to bring the u.s.
constitution to life. there are friends of the cut situation center who support helps to make a night like tonight possible. i would like to invite them to join us on stage. macleod.lcome cynthia the chairman of lubert adler. dan fitzpatrick, president of citizens bank, mid-atlantic. sasso, chairman. , chairman of the national constitution center's executive committee.
howard schultz, executive chairman, starbucks coffee company. dr. amy gutman, president of the university of pennsylvania. i'm sure many of you want to share tonight's program on social media. when you do, we invite you to use the #libertymedal. please silence your devices and i will give you a moment to do so now. thank you. a few of our special guests recorded messages of support for senator mccain. we would like to share those with you. turn your attention to the screen behind me. to thank you for joining us at the national constitution center. our constitution inspires us with a love of liberty and
provides us with a blueprint for how to live as free women and men. cannotstitution alone secure our freedom. in our dangerous world, our best and bravest have put their lives on the line to defend it. john mccain did that. in so doing, he modeled for all of us a devotion to the cause of liberty. all of us owe him a great debt of gratitude for this legacy. , i celebrate the winner of the 2017 liberty medal, senator john mccain. ,> i am dan fitzpatrick president of citizens bank. join thered to national constitution center to pay tribute to a great american, senator john mccain. when we think of senator mccain, we think of service and honor.
from a young age, senator mccain was called to serve to give back. throughout his life, he exemplified what he called the sanctity of personal honor. as a naval officer, as a , agressman, and as a senator theme runs through his life, dedication for our country, our constitution, and the preservation of liberty. today, the national constitution center east does the liberty medal on this man, on behalf of and our colleagues at citizens bank, i am honored to join with all of you in celebrating this. >> good evening. it is a great honor to join the national constitution center and our board chair, vice president joe biden, in paying tribute to senator mccain. he began as a naval officer. he has been honored for her is heroism -- for his heroism in
that role. he displayed another kind of heroism in his political career. our system depends on lawmakers who can put aside their interest to promote the common good. senator mccain never forgot this. stroveout his career, he to put his country over his party. thank you for joining me and the national constitution center in conferring upon senator mccain a deserved honor, the 2017 liberty medal. [applause] >> in a few moments, our show will begin. enjoy. ♪ good evening and welcome to the national constitution center and the 2017 liberty medal
ceremony. our 2017 liberty medal recipient, the honorable john mccain. [applause] rosen,scorted by jeffrey president and chief executive officer of the national constitution center and chairman of the national constitution and the 47th vice president of the united states, joseph biden. [applause] please remain standing for our national anthem.
whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight. 'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming and the rockets red glare the bombs bursting in air gave proof through the night there.r flag was still star-spangledt banners yet wave o'er the land of the free -- and the home of
it is an honor to welcome you on this meaningful occasion as the national constitution center medal toe 2017 liberty senator john mccain. [applause] throughout his career, senator mccain has put his devotion to the u.s. constitution above faction or party. 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 believed direct democracies had led, in greece and rome, to rule by demagogues and the mob.
republic,sentative madison emphasized, citizens would delegate power to enlightened representatives, "a chosen body of citizens whose iscern the best d true interest of their country and whose patriotism will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations." it is meaningful that senator mccain will be awarded the liberty medal accompanied by the chair of the national constitution center, vice president joe biden. vice president biden served in the senate with john mccain for more than two decades. their willingness to work together on behalf of the united states of america represents an
ege.l that is now under sig new populist forces and social media technologies are ba lkanizing citizens into filter bubbles and echo chambers, speeding up public discourse. the result is polarizing our media and elected officials and threatening values of thoughtful deliberation and public recent -- reason imprecisely -- in precisely the way the framers feared. that is why constitutional education is so important. in april, 1988, a year after he was sworn into the senate, senator mccain became a cosponsor of the bicentennial heritage act which created the national constitution center. it gave us an inspiring
educational mission, to disseminate information about the constitution on a nonpartisan basis to increase awareness and understanding of the constitution among the american people. 30 years later, increasing constitutional awareness and understanding is more necessary than ever. it is crucial we bring together citizens of different perspectives on all media platforms, to listen respectfully to constitutional arguments on all sides. we need to empower americans to educate themselves about the constitution so that we can deliver a thoughtfully with each other and choose enlightened representatives, like senator mccain, who will deliberate with similar thoughtfulness, rather than retreating into camps. the future of liberty and
democracy depends on constitutional education. as jefferson said, democracy cannot survive both ignorant and free. centerpiece of educational efforts is the online, interactive constitution. it has relieved -- received nearly 12 million hits since it launched. [applause] you can click on any provision of the constitution using this online tool and find the leading conservative and legal -- liberal thinkers discussing what they agree about and what they disagree about. this platform is a model for the kind of thoughtful, multi-partisan deliberation that madison considered essential to the preservation of freedom and democracy in america. with your hope, we need to bring it across america and around the globe.
light andng constitutional understanding, the national constitution center inspires citizens to preserve, protect, and defend american liberty in the spirit of sacrifice and service exemplified by the heroic career of senator mccain. to among us will be called the life of sacrifice and service the john mccain has devoted to the united states but all of us are inspired by his example bird on behalf of the national constitution center, for all you have done to preserve, protect, and defend liberty in america and across the globe, it is an honor to say thank you, senator mccain. [applause] >> john mccain' as life has been
about fighting for freedom. >> the personification of courage and independence. >> he has what it takes to speak up. combine a cowboy with a scholar, that is who you have got. >> john mccain comes from a long legacy of service. >> his grandfather was an admiral, his father was an admiral. >> his family has served in every complex senses founding. was born in 1936 in the u.s. controlled panama canal zone. admiration and respect for his dad. he was a small man, five foot four inches but his presence was stunning. submariner.r was a
as a boy, he admits to a mix of pride and resentment that his life course seemed preordained. was never any consideration other than that he would go to the naval academy. >> when he was 15, his parents sent him to an applicable high school in virginia. -- e piscopo high school in virginia. >> it was pretty easy to know that this guy was more worldly than the rest of us. >> he was on the football team with mccain and remembers that as a teenager. mccain was a nonconformist who pushed back. >> the school had a new boy system called the rat system. >> mccain says he was considered the worst brat because he picked fights with fellow students and ignored school regulations. >> he earned the nickname punk
and i think he enjoyed that. >> he, could have taken an easy path through life. he was the son of an admiral. he wanted to make his own mark. >> after four years in the academy and advanced flight training, mccain was eager to add his own paragraph to the family legacy, with a combat tour in vietnam. >> he not only wanted to go, he asked to go. >> at the age of 31 and a married father of three, john mccain joined a squadron as a pilot. it was on the flight deck in 1967 that he had his first brush with death. >> his plane was going to be the next to launch. >> a power surge triggered the launch of a rocket across the flight deck, igniting a fire on a ship loaded with bombs. >> they were sitting ducks and there were trying to offload these into the water and get the
fire out. >> so many men died but he rolled off and ran. >> he says he was the luckiest guy he knows. i've always thought he was the luckiest and unluckiest. >> mccain could have gone home. he volunteered for another tour on a carrier that had suffered its own fire a year earlier. >> to him, it was not about being a pilot in a war. it was about serving. later, his plane was shot down in a bombing mission. >> i found myself falling toward the middle of a small lake in hanoi with two broken arms, a broken leg, and an angry crowd. >> he had broken his arms and legs. his captors broke his shoulder. they dumped him in an empty cell at the hanoi hilton. >> we knew he had been captured.
he came close to death a couple of times. >> he was given medical treatment after his captors learned his father was an admiral. he was a potential propaganda piece because of my grandfather and they were trying to exploit that. >> his jailers offered early release and a chance to escape his suffering. >> he said i'm not leaving. >> code of conduct. you go home and the order of your shoot him. >> the day he was to be sent home was the day his father was to be promoted commander of the pacific fleet. they wouldught secure a public relations coup by releasing him. >> he stayed and did his duty and did the right thing. >> how many people, given the choice, would stay true to their brothers who were there and
refuse to go home? >> that must've been a hard decision and as it turned out, it was not. >> his punishment was four days of beatings. >> they worked me over harder than before. >> cracking his ribs and re-breaking his arms. >> ernest hemingway had a famous line, man can be destroyed but not the sea. it is because of his strong will to live and fight for what he believes in. >> mccain was placed in solitary confinement. >> it is a test of strength. >> by the time he joins his fellow pows, he weighed 100 pounds, his arms useless. >> they put me in a shell with other americans. i could not feed myself. they did it for me. those men saved my life. >> the experience changed him from a rebel without a cause to
maverick on a mission. >> europe the mercy of your captor and the only thing you hold onto is your ability to be faithful to your country. >> after 5.5 years, mccain was sent home. his time made him appreciate that america's freedom was an honor and with honor comes obligation. he retired and won a seat in congress the following year. member of the house and the senate, he has been a champion of veterans. >> someone who had the backs of the men and women in the military. clinton called for normalizing relations with vietnam, mccain became a leader. >> john kerry was another one. >> we have to chase down every lead. >> there is something striking time in an who spent
prisoner of war camp, having gone back. >> we visited the hanoi hilton and i will never forget the emotion of being shown the cell in which he spent a fair amount of time. he is viewed by the vietnamese as their best advocate in washington. >> family will tell you he is still very much the rubble. >> he has a streak a mile wide. i am sure you have heard mccain. >> those guards watched over you in north vietnam are still going to group sessions, trying to recover. >> the same courage that john showed in vietnam, he shows in congress every week. >> i remember i was getting grief from a local editorial board because i was going after your marks. -- earmarks.
he said, do not give up. you are doing the right thing. a senator mccain has been role model for those of us who are younger senators. >> when he talks, the room goes quiet. people know something important is going to be said. >> it is his willingness to be a maverick. straightain got his speaking style from his mother. >> she is a dynamo and is still going strong. >> he got his work ethic from his dad. >> he is a tremendous worker. how the does it physically, i do not know. i have got to take a break because they could not keep up. >> john came back to the senate after the diagnosis of brain cancer against the advice of his
doctors. >> a tough diagnosis to get but a tougher guy. >> he is concerned with doing his duty. >> he works like a sailor, fights like a sailor and one of the greatest patriots i have government. >> he is a voice for those who do not have a voice. >> somebody asked him, what is the purpose of american foreign-policy? he said, the declaration of independence. everyone of us is created equal and we've got the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. >> he always puts the country first and everything. [applause] and now, please welcome the president of the university of pennsylvania, dr. amy gutman. good evening, everyone and
what a good evening it is. we gather at the national constitution center to honor a , among otherfor things, his 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 is going to beht introduced by his good friend and renowned democratic senator and united states vice president, joe biden. this is a moment's evening. evening.ous
such bipartisan friendship underscores what we sow warmly celebrate in this year's liberty medal recipient. benjamin franklin had the perfect words. for those of you who do not know it, he is the founder of the university of pennsylvania. after britain imposed punitive liberty,ons on franklin declared "they who give up essential liberty to obtain temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. " nobody knows the 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 could defeat all but the strongest of wills. the man we honor tonight possesses such will. the man we honor tonight exemplifies our society's highest ideals with the deepest 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 actions, not only crosses party lines and national borders, he transcends them. he is a man who has focused his tears thatn the sunder but on the ties that bind. he routinely forgoes what is
expedient to pursue what is just and right. our recipient shares with those who have come before him a lifelong devotion to that ultimate and noblest of human pursuits, liberty. the national constitution center was built to strengthen our pursuit of that shared purpose of liberty. tonight, we're so proud to continue that work by celebrating a national leader of immense distinction. he is among our longest serving statesman in the senate. he is a congressman before that and a naval pilot before that. serviceut a lifetime of to country, to others, and to his own principles, he has been a warrior for our freedom.
in uniform, he defended liberty. -- in dailyt, he of life, he it hears to it. at a time when people face institutions and many , many look up to the man we honor tonight. ,e look to him as a moral voice straight talking, and operate, honestly imperfect and all the braver for it. the life you've lived in spire is us and gives us hope. in the causeessly of liberty, he is a person of honor. we see in him what we desire to see at work in our nation and around the world. tiedht, we honor liberty
to the utmost courage as we celebrate and salute our senator and our hero, senator john mccain. thank you and thank you all for honoring this great public servant. [applause] >> thank you so much and thank you for your leadership and cooperation. it is my privilege to introduce a patriot and friend of america's veterans. appreciates what senator mccain has sacrificed in
protecting the constitution. howard schultz is the visionary founder, former ceo, and current executive chairman of starbucks. [applause] as you are 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, howard and his wife began to educate themselves about the americans who have served in the military. in 2013, starbucks pledged to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses in the next five years. when the company method goal ahead of schedule, starbucks pledge to hire 20,000 by 2025. the following year, the foundation launched onward
veterans which empowers veterans and their families in the transition to civilian life, recognizing many struggle with post-traumatic stress and brain injury, the foundation plans to initial $30 million to remedy and study these. [applause] with the work of the schulz family foundation, they continue to change the national narrative about transitioning narratives -- transitioning veterans who sacrificed so much. for his service, please join me in thanking and welcoming howard schultz. [applause] thank you for that warm introduction.
vice president biden, senator mccain, ladies and gentlemen. it is an honor to stand here before you this evening. i stand here with humility and a motion. as -- and in motion. i have known that might journey promise possible by the of freedom conceived by the men and women who have fought to preserve that promise for centuries. never in my lifetime have i been so mindful and so passionate about the responsibilities we all have to live up to the ideals in which that promise was conceived. consider what happened 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
debated while pragmatic principles informed the creation of our constitution. among those principles was the need for individual and state sacrifice so the country could achieve unity. also among those was a call first. amity.all for spirit of our founding fathers were not perfect. as we sit here tonight, how can we not be in awe of past leaders who invoked such simple wisdom's despite complexities of their time? how can we not have gratitude for a leader of our time, for a sailor and statesman who sits among us now because his life story embodies the principles of his father, his grandfather, and
of our founding fathers? senator mccain, i stand here in awe of america's shared heritage and with the utmost respect and gratitude for you. here tonight, history lives among us. john mccain is one of millions of americans who have sworn allegiance to our constitution. he took the oath as a 1954 as he in entered the naval academy. he repeated that oath many times when he was commissioned as an officer, when he was elected to represent 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, i must believe every time you took the oath of allegiance, you were pledging
your heart to our country. more than an oath of loyalty, you pledged an oath of love. with that in mind, the honor of speaking here tonight has given me an opportunity to appreciate what it means to love something as you love our country and the responsibilities that come with it. i would like to speak about such love and responsibility in the context of our country and senator mccain's life. let me begin with a story we know. mccain's jet was shot down. the force of that broke his leg and his arms. we recall how he was taken prisoner. to remember how his fractures were set without anesthesia and the additional damage doctors inflicted. we ask, would we have the
pain ore to endure such the will to survive in such circumstances? respect and our admiration. , it is another part of the story that for me showcases the incredible that's of the senators -- incredible depth of the senator's character. 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 his early a candor crewbe for the north many -- north vietnamese.
his jailers warned, if he stayed, he would suffer dire consequences. still, this young man volunteered to endure the horrors of torture and the possibility of death because he understood what it meant to left his country and the depth of sacrifice that comes with it. hearing this story again, it is easy to see a brave, honorable warrior. but we must also see a true. best true patriot who revealed the same duty to country that our founding fathers believed in. hishe years that followed five years in captivity, his love of country manifested itself in another form of public service. in congress, senator mccain's conscious and willingness to the country of her party have helped to preserve the democracy we have all inherited. and speaking of his long-standing believed to reform the role of money in politics.
of his unyielding support for the brave men and women of our military and his ongoing efforts to ensure they come home to the gratitude, to the respect and the opportunity they deserve. and i am speaking of the moments 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. [cheers and applause] can we hear that one more time? [cheers and applause]
in reviewing senator mccain's legislative body of work, it is easy to see a maverick. i see a true statesman, like our founding father, senator mccain is a leader willing to put the well-being of the country above his own interests. his love of country also shines in his ability to look beyond partisan differences. as an example, senator mccain's uncommon friendship with mo udall comes to mind congressman -- comes to mind. congressman udall was a liberal icon, yet he reached out to a young republican from his state as a friend and a mentor. the two men developed a close
friendship that lasted until udall's death from parkinson's disease. although udall had once been among the most powerful leaders in washington, almost none of his former colleagues came calling as he's laying ill at a veterans hospital not far from the capital. but it was senator mccain who visited them quite often. senator, you would arrive at the hospital with newspaper clips and you would sit at your friend's bedside, even when he was no longer conscious, and you would read to him. just as he reached out to you in the beginning, you reached out to him in the end with empathy and true compassion. hearing this story, it is once again so clear of the unique and unusual man we are speaking about, and what a dear friend he was to mo udall. but we must also see a man with a desire to embrace people's humanity, regardless of their politics. this is no small feat in today's vitriolic halls of our governance and the uncivil quarters of our country. senator mccain is a man of strong conviction, but he also embodies the spirit of amity that helped our founding fathers find common ground. leaders of senator mccain's ilk not only look beyond political difference, they also look beyond the past. i ask all of us to reflect back
to the physical and emotional horrors that a young pilot suffered as a prisoner of war in north vietnam. now consider where we are today, the united states and vietnam are nations that exchange tourists, trade, and cultures. this reconciliation would never have occurred had senator mccain not found in himself to extend a hand of friendship to his former adversaries and to work closely with president clinton and senator john kerry, a democratic peer, to establish diplomatic relations between two countries once at war. his efforts were a model of cooperation and forgiveness. if john mccain was able to look beyond a brutal past, so too, could america. [applause] as we recall john mccain's role in our reconciliation with vietnam, we see an impassioned torchbearer of american values.
but we must also see a man who was willing to open his heart and his mind with the same foresight and collaboration that our founding fathers called upon as they designed the country's path forward. it is easy to recount the tales of great men, but it is much harder to follow in the footsteps of greatness. yet every generation needs leaders capable of such feats. our democracy remains a great experiment. all of us must see ourselves as her innovators as well as her protectors. that is why founding fathers never die, they exist in memory, but also in practice. you, senator mccain, you are a founding father of our time. [applause] >> you are a man who fights to preserve a nation with courage, compassion, gallantry, decency, and humanity.
every independent state, this mall is filled with americans who come to celebrate the birth of our nation. millions of others spend the day with family and friends. john mccain, however, has his own deeply held 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 a -- being among our men and women in uniform is a sincere joy for him. his face lights up, there's a bounce to his step. on independence day, he has said there is no place rather be. those trips, and all he does in service to our nation often keep him from family and home. to cindy and the 7 mccain children, on behalf of all americans, our gratitude for your sacrifice is an extraordinary opportunity to say
thank you to the entire mccain family. [applause] >> in sharing your beloved husband and father with the rest of us, we feel your love of country. senator, you hail from uncommon stock. your grandfather served our navy his entire adult life. your father, jack, entered the naval academy at age 16, and spent 41 years in uniform. both were remarkable wartime heroes. you too humble us with your service. you have worn the cloth of the nations for most of your adult life. yours is an uncommon love and commitment to country, of fidelity to fly with no p are -- peer in modern life. john sidney mccain iii, captain, the united states navy.
recipient of the silver star, recipient of the legion of merit. recipient of the distinguished flying cross. recipient of the purple heart. the united states senator, hero, statesman. senator mccain, there are some who question what this nation has become. they wonder about our commitment to our founding values. our results and our love for -- resolve and our love for fellow americans. perhaps they do not know where to look. looking at the man we honor here tonight, i am comforted and confident in our potential as a united nation to live up to the best of our past, to put forth the best of ourselves and to forge a future worthy of all americans, especially great americans who inspire us like john mccain. thank you very much. [applause]
>> the work we do is important. >> in late july, returning to the senate after surgery, john mccain took to the floor to articulate his philosophy of government. >> we have been spinning our wheels onto many important issues -- on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without health -- help from across the aisle. what have we to lose to work together to find those solutions? >> he told them exactly what they needed to hear. that is the partisanship has to stop. >> he was saying let's go back to the regular order. what does that mean? it means that there are committees in the senate, they have republicans and democrats on them. they work out the problems. >> one of the biggest values john adams to the senate is the memory of how the congress used to operate. when people work together across the aisle, ronald reagan used to say i'd rather have a percent of
something than 100% of nothing. i think that's the way he feels. >> he demonstrates a model of service and a desire to make government work. and the desire to make american global leadership. -- maintain america's global leadership. i think that is worthy of emulation. >> a true statesman of the senate, john mccain has led efforts on bipartisan legislation throughout his career. >> he and i would sit in a room with a gang of 8 -- he led the republican side, i led the democrat side -- four hours, each day, days, weeks -- hours each day, days, weeks, and months, his persistence in making sure that we could come up with a bill that would get support of both democrats and republicans was amazing. >> john mccain i found was a man of courage not only i'm vietnam -- in vietnam, but he's been quite a courageous guy in congress. >> we served together for 30 years. we have served on opposite sides. he is a fierce opponent, but also a loyal friend. >> there's no better example than that then his friend with ted kennedy.
they would fight like cats and dogs on the floor, but after they were the best of friends. that is what true democracy is about. >> mccains wife credits much of her husband's legislative success to another maverick. >> when john was a freshman congressman, mo udall took him under his wing. >> mo 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 powers of the executive. >> in his speech to the senate, mccain didn't just implore his colleagues to come together, he defended the constitutional role of congress as envisioned by the founding fathers. >> whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the president's subordinates. we are his equal, he challenges us in the senate, he pushes us to move past partisanship, to listen to each other and try and do right by the people who hired
us. >> he's been a role model and an example for all of us. >> he's a fighter, a warrior, look what is right and what is fair and just. >> john shares that belief that we have to get back to the basics of leadership. the basics of the constitution. it's that respect for our country that is going to allow us to heal wounds, the wounds of the civil rights, the most recent times. >> he approaches every issue -- what is in the best interest of the country? what is the best outcome that can be achieved? to me, that's the hallmark of a great public servant. >> i don't think there's anyone else in america that is more deserving of this honor than john mccain. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the 47th vice president of the united states, joe biden. [applause]
>> thank you very much. i'm assuming you're standing because you are cold and you'd like to stretch. howard schultz is going to come up and repeat his speech. [laughter] >> howard, that was really, really, really good. for real. really good. ladies and gentlemen, i am deeply honored to be here as part of the night, serving this year as chair of the national constitution center board of trustees has afforded me many privileges. none greater than the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary and exemplary service to our nation of my dear friend. my mom -- i met john's mom and he knew my mom -- my mom had an expression.
from the time i was a kid, she said, joey, look at me. look in my eyes. i'm not exaggerating. my word as a biden, she said, look at me. to remember, you are defined by your courage and your 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 are honoring tonight, my friend john mccain. as i said, my mom knew john, and respected him deeply. she said -- as i never told john -- she was one of five children from scranton, four brothers all served in the military, all in world war ii. her number two brother -- and bobby casey knows this, because we lived several blocks one another in green ridge -- her number two brother is ambrose finnigan, who still is
remembered in scranton as a leader. he was shot down, and his body was never found in papa new guinea. she is to talk about every time something came up about john, how he reminded her of her brother ambrose. she thought ambrose, and she knew john was the embodiment of courage and loyalty. we all know john's story, we have heard it tonight, seen it tonight, you know about his grandparents, his father, how he was called to duty in wartime. his incredible heroism. you know? on october 26, 1967, 50 years ago this month, when his plane was shot down -- and damn, it's hard to remember john 50 years.
god almighty, i was a mere child. [laughter] i think i was in third grade, i don't remember for sure. [laughter] but you know the infamous hanoi hilton. you know -- as you know and you've heard time and again and john knows and still bears the scars of the brutal beatings and the and the damage done to him. after about eight months, you also know about the offer of release. i have had the opportunity as vice president to sit on the stage of the president and confer a number of medals of honor. i'm sure it's occurred, but i cannot think of anyone that i'm aware of -- i'm sure it's occurred -- who, given the opportunity, after knowing -- not having to guess, knowing
what it meant to stay in that prison. not having to be threatened and wonder what was coming, knowing what would happen. given the opportunity to leave, no matter what the code was, imagine. i want you to think about it. imagine it in real terms. again, not having to wonder what he would face by refusing to leave. knowing the excruciating pain and isolation. and he stayed. he stayed. that man, he spent almost five more years in that hellhole of captivity, inhumane conditions. 1967 days. 1,967 days.
you have all had pain, you have all had suffering, we have all had it in our lives, and our families. you know how sometimes just getting up one day at a time, just putting one foot in front of the other, and facing whatever that pain, mental or physical. as i said, i've been privileged to meet a fair number of heros in my life. like john, i have been in and out of afghanistan and iraq over 35 times. i've had the honor of printing silver stars on people in the fall of in the upper cone, i have seen these kids, but i don't ever remember seeing someone who's kept his wits and senses about him. i remember when you were released, john, we all do, but i remember i was a senator only four months. it was march 14, 1973, and i remember getting off of that
plan, pal. i didn't know you, but i remember that salute we saw here tonight. i remember how you were greeted and how you greeted me. and how you made no distinction between you and all of the rest of your fellow pows at clark air force base in the philippines. folks, seeing that handsome young flyer who pushed beyond the bounds of human endurance come out on the other side still standing, still proud, as my mother would say, still unbowed. i thought to myself, my god. and i remember talking with my friend ted kaufman. you ended up serving with him. he was my chief of staff.
a fine guy. i remember us sitting and watching and saying i want to meet that guy someday, never expecting to be able to do it. we have an expression in the senate, you have to excuse the point of personal privilege. i realize what i'm talking about is personal. remarkably, john chose to remain in the navy. he had an awful lot of other opportunities, but he had chosen a life of service. and to him, duty always dictated what to do. he stayed. you can imagine my surprise when in 1977, i did meet captain john mccain. senate liaison officer the naval legislative office. i was by far the youngest member of the senate foreign relations committee. and i got an opportunity to travel all over the world. like john, i've met every major world leader without exception since 1976.
in the beginning, one of the most consequential days of my career, and we have all looked back on our careers, and think of those things and moments that had an impact on how your career moved forward. and not only that -- i not only got to work with john mccain, i got to know him. i got to know an awful lot about him. 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 in wilmington, having a picnic with his family when he was still in the navy. my son, beau biden. army, purple heart -- excuse me, a bronze star, other service medals he was awarded. he looks at john from the time
he was a high school kid with nothing but absolute rock -- raw admiration. my son hunter got to know john 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 you know that. john and i would travel the world together. as i said, he jokes, he said he carried my bags. the son of a gun never carried my bags. he was supposed to carry my bags, damage, but -- bags, but he never carried my bags. he was a young liaison officer, i was a young senator. whether we were going to germany or china, whenever i went with notable exceptions, i asked john to come with me.
and the many of those so-called coattails, congressional delegations, back in the days when we like each other and talk to each other, we used to travel together. democrats, republicans, and our spouses. and many of those, jill with me as well. she got to know and love john, as well. and i think he loves her, too. traveling together with our wives was a tradition we kept up when john was later elected to the united senate himself. i never saw him just as a liaison officer, i pulled him in, i thought his advice. -- sought his advice. i'd be meeting with world leaders and i got john before i went in. what you think, john? this is what i'm going to say. does this make sense? this is what i'm thinking. he not only became a friend, he became an advisor.
later on, i think maybe i served the same role for john when he was taking about running. we talked for hours about the state of the world, specific assignments, about what we wanted to do with our lives. i learned a lot about this man. and then, we talked about what we are going to do. how we were thinking about what we are going to do. john would talk about maybe he's going to go back to arizona. go to arizona and get involved in politics. and at the chagrin of my democratic friends, i strongly encouraged john to do it. because 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 just pleased me that we got to serve together, even though that same point of time as john said, camera rouge was elected for the house and came over. that is another story. but it did not surprise me when it -- when he sought the nomination for president,
because i thought from the beginning that he had that capacity. i thought in 2000, 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 vicious attacks in south carolina, and i offered to help him. i said john, where do you want me? pick the town, the city, the place, and i will testify your character. he said joe, i think that would hurt me more than it would help, but thanks. remember that? and boy, was my team angry with me, because i made it known that i was prepared to do it. but i will tell you what did surprise me. i did not expect -- i didn't expect that -- and it caused me some consternation, although i was proud to be picked as vice president and serve with president obama, i did not expect that some john and i
would be on opposing tickets in 2008. but never once, never once did i ever say anything that was not positive about john during that campaign. i never made any secret about john being my friend, although i did not talk about it too much -- not as a joke, because it would have hurt him. not a joke. john and i used to debate in the rankings. -- in the 1990's. we would sit with one another, sit next to each other on democratic or republican sides of the floor, and i knew something had changed john, and so did you. you will not remember this, and maybe my colleague will not
either, maybe my colleague from delaware would know this, but we got in our caucuses and we chastised the leadership in both of our caucuses. why were we talking with one another, sitting one another and showing such friendship in the middle of debate? 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 the personal feelings. 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. abused for five and a half years. as a u.s. senator, as was pointed out, he joined john kerry in normalizing relationships with vietnam. always country first, always country first. you know, here is what john said in 1995. she said, "we have looked back in anger at the anon for too -- at vietnam for too long. i cannot allow whatever resentment i incurred during my time in vietnam to hold me from
doing what is clearly my duty." everybody talks about these virtues. but this is what this 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, and it made him such a formidable opponent and a fierce friend. john and i have been with one another, together, and we have been against one another. as you have observed, neither one of us have a temper. [laughter] neither one of us lose our cool. but boy -- [laughs] oh boy. as i have said, and john knows, even after our toughest fights, john would call me and say, you know, biden should be off the ticket.
and then he would call me and say, i don't really mean that. they made me say that. i say that because john and i have been given several awards for bipartisanship -- and we don't understand why we should get an award for bipartisanship. but i have said this publicly before. i know that, if i called john in the middle of the night and say, even after the most bitter say, john, 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 plane and he would go. i guarantee you. so would i for him. we have always been willing, we thought the other guy was right, to cross the aisle and lock arms.
it is good for the country. the part we did not talk about -- i am not going to take your time tonight, but i want to stated for the record -- john is a man of significant intellect, deep conviction, and unmatched character. if you allow me a point of personal privilege again, as we used to say in the senate, how much you are an example of service, duty, courage, and loyalty that inspired my beau it is decision as army, national guard, and later a captain, major, to give up his attorney general seat, turn it over to a republican to get permission to go over to iraq for a year. his unit 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 surprise at all that after your diagnosis, you took to the senate floor to remind us all,
all of us who choose to hold office, democrats and republicans alike, what our responsibility is. first to the nation. response ability that extends -- responsibility that extends 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 began and the liberty, desperate into ofinternational beacon
liberty, the defender of all human beings, and the right to freedom and justice? what greater cause? you know, that is what it has always been for four decades. what greater cause? i have personally benefited from having john mccain as a confidant, counselor, and a friend. for even longer, our nation has benefited from john's selflessness and unwavering service. john, i -- to paraphrase hemingway, as with spoken earlier, 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 now, john, with your powerful words ringing in our ears and
your example for us, a life of tireless work to secure the blessings of liberty to the people the world over, it is my great pleasure to present you with the national constitution center's 2018 liberty medal. ladies and gentlemen, jeffrey rosen. where are you, jeff? [applause] >> thank you, vice president biden, for those moving and significant words. thank you for your service as the chair of the constitution
center. it is now my great pleasure and honor to invite the vice president to award the liberty medal to john mccain. [applause] ♪ mr. biden: i am not going to put it around his neck because he gets animated and i think it will hurt him speaking. i am going to say these words. senator mccain, you have honorably upheld the united states constitution as a war hero, a member of the senate, and as a patriotic leader, and you have preserved, protected, and defended liberty at home and around the globe. for your life and sacrifice, it is the greatest honor to award you the 2017 liberty medal. ♪ [cheers and applause]
sen. mccain: thank you, my old, dear friend. thank you, joe, my old, dear friend, for those mostly undeserved kind words. vice president biden and i have known each other for a lot of years now, more than 40 if you are counting. we knew each other when we were young, handsome, and smarter than everyone else but were too modest to say so. [laughter]
sen. mccain: joe was a senator and i was a liaison to the senate and my duties included escorting senate delegations on overseas trips, and in that capacity i supervised the luggage. when no one of lord and was -- lower rank was available for the job, 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. [laughter] 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. [laughter] 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 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. [laughter] 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 me in and i am humbled by that. i will try my best not to prove too unworthy 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. -- on pearl harbor. the world war ii veteran, 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 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 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 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 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. -- to the imagined future. 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. 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 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. [applause] 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. the cause of freedom and equal justice all my adult life. 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 along, 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 of it. the good ones and the not so good ones. i have been inspired by the service of better patriots then i. -- than me. 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 , 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 ever served. thank you for this. i will treasure it. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] >> john, congratulations on receiving the liberty medal. great debt of a gratitude. mccain, the life of fighting and defending liberty
for all, you are so deserving of -- this medal. 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 --