Dated November 10, 2017
On the Occasion of Receiving the Liberty Medal
Awarded by the National Constitution Center
Presented by former Vice President, Mr. Joseph Biden
October 16, 2017
Well, the first part of this Tribute wasn’t as short as I expected it to be. Remember the great moments when I regaled you with tales of boot camp in Missouri at Fort Leonard Wood (we recruits called it Fort Misery)?
I was warming up to my story of John McCain. As I left my tale of the Army in my rearview mirror of life, one day I saw a news program. I watched in awe? horror? shock?
I can’t think of the word but probably all of them. On the news soon after March 14, 1973, I saw American soldiers deplaning. The news anchor explained these men had flown from Germany. They had been released from Prisoner of War Camps in North Vietnam.
You may remember it was months prior when I lived through basic training at Fort Leonard Wood Missouri. Our night on bivouac still weighed on my mind. If I took our two days on the miserable adventure and multiplied it by five years the result is 1,825 more nights that Mr. McCain spent in captivity with torture always as his companion.
Later, much later, a more detailed account of the horrors of the Hanoi Hilton and other camps emerged. It wasn’t until much, much later a complete (as will ever be told) was let out of the bag. Now, single file down the ramp, a salute to the flag they had served for such a long time in captivity (for John McCain is was more than five years!). I suffered through eight weeks of basic training. These guys numbered their suffering in YEARS!
On Monday, October 16, 2017, Senator John Sydney McCain of the great state of Arizona was awarded the Liberty Medal by the National Constitution Center and presented to Senator McCain by a dear friend and former Vice President of the United States, Mr. Joseph Biden. The medal was awarded for his lifetime of sacrifice and service to the Nation.
He began his remarks, after a short period of ribbing with Joe Biden (they had served in the United States Senate together), by recalling another Liberty Medal Award ceremony in 1991. He was attending the ceremony at the War Memorial at the USS Arizona in Hawaii. The recipient of this medal was former President George H. W. Bush. President Bush’s remarks were emotional and heartfelt as he, was a WWII pilot in the Pacific. He had to bail from his aircraft over the Pacific Ocean. Mr. McCain related that Mr. Bush, who with a choked up voice concluded his remarks “May God bless them. May God Bless America, the most wondrous land on earth.”
Mr. McCain then recalled the story, a version of which I had heard at a young age. A story which shaped my life and my times indeed as his-story shaped these United States of America.
“We are blessed, and we are a blessing to humanity in turn. The international order we helped build from the ashes of world war, and we defend to this day, has liberated more people from tryanny and poverty than ever before in history. This wondrous land has shared its treasures and ideals and shed the blood of its finest patriots to help make a new, better world. And as we do so, we made our own civilization, more just, freer, more accomplished and prosperous than the America which existed when I watched my father go off to war on December 7th, 1941.”
Then Mr. McCain began the most telling part of his remarks. “To fear the world we organized and led for three quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last hope of the earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems are as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history. We live in a land made of ideals at home and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. Leadership has its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to.”
(Now, dear reader, you may not know the spirit in which these words were given, nor the actions and words that led Mr. McCain to deliver them. I will address these issues a blog to follow.)
I will not take away one iota of the adulation due to Mr. McCain. I would beg your patience with one more thought regarding Mr. McCain. He is not just a former POW or a six-term Senator from Arizona. He is a Statesman of this Country. The order “Statesman” is not granted lightly or frequently. Indeed it won’t even be given in Mr. McCain’s lifetime.
There is no greater honor Mr.McCain lived for than the two great moments I was privileged to witness The first was when, as the last Republican Senator voting, he cast the vote to snatch the victory from the Republican Party’s wicked attempt to disembowel the Affordable Care Act. The next were these words that will ring around the globe to face all of the wicked, evil and immoral attempts to change America from a leader to an America that falls to its lowest common denominator.
This is the time to honor a great Statesman. We were honored, learning from and hopefully passing on to our children, the sacrifice, and service – the life of Mr. John Sydney McCain. Undoubtedly, the brain cancer robbing him of years that should be devoted to peace and leadership, of shepherding the men and women that will follow him, will now be lost. There will be more opportunities ahead to witness his love and devotion not only to this great country but the special place in which he held his constituents, the people of Arizona. Join with me as we witness the great resolve and inspiration that is shown by a true ‘Statesman’, Senator John Sydney McCain.
All images I use are either my own and labeled, or published under Creative Commons Zero License, which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer.
Thank you for your service, Senator John McCain!
For your service in the United States Military, in the United States Senate and in private life. You are a role model to this generation and the upcoming ones.
I am sorry about your illness. Sorry for those of us that remain. Hopefully, we will have strength and intelligence to fight this most pernicious war that very many don’t even know, yet, that is being waged.
Shalom! (God is fighting for Your Peace)