John McCain to receive 2017 Liberty Medal

Yeman Torture Sites
Sen. John McCain speaks on Capitol Hill in June. He will receive the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal in October.

Update: Jeffrey Rosen, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center, issued this statement in response to the announcement that Sen. John McCain is being treated for brain cancer. “All of us at the National Constitution Center are sending good thoughts to Sen. John McCain, the valiant and deserving recipient of the 2017 Liberty Medal. With our Chair, Vice President Joe Biden, we look forward to honoring his lifetime of service to the United States of America at the Liberty Medal ceremony on October 16. ”

Earlier story posted July 6.

Sen. John McCain will be this year’s recipient of the Liberty Medal, the National Constitution Center announced Thursday.

The six-term Republican senator from Arizona will receive the award recognizing his “lifetime of sacrifice and service” in an Oct. 16 ceremony at the Constitution Center.

The medal, which carries with it a $100,000 prize, honors those who work to secure liberty around the globe.

“It has been my greatest privilege in life to swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, beginning with my enlistment in the Navy and continuing through my service in the United States Senate,” McCain said in a statement. “Each time I have raised my right hand, I do so with enormous weight of the people who elected me to serve. I’m grateful to the National Constitution Center for this recognition, and am humbled to join the ranks of so many past Liberty Medal recipients I greatly admire.”

He will receive the medal from former Vice President Joe Biden, who was named chairman of the Constitution Center’s board of trustees earlier this year.

“John epitomizes statesmanship,” Biden said in a statement. “In our over two decades serving together in the United States Senate, there were few others I could count on to be as honest, respectful, and decent as John. His heroic sacrifice for his country and dedicated service to his constituents are unquestionable and unmatched.”

Prior to running for office, McCain, 80, served in the Navy for more than two decades and spent years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, has been a senator since 1986, and mounted presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2008. He is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services.

Jeffrey Rosen, the center’s president and chief executive, noted the “longtime friendship and collaboration” between the medal’s recipient and its presenter.

“In these polarized times, it’s more important than ever to unite public servants of different perspectives,” Rosen said in a statement.

McCain did not support President Trump in the 2016 election and has publicly clashed with the president on occasion this year. Speaking in Philadelphia during a GOP retreat in January, he sharply rebuked the president’s statements supporting the torturing of prisoners.

“Torture takes away the most important aspect of the United States of America — we are a moral nation, we are not like other countries, we don’t torture people,” said McCain, who was tortured by his captors in Vietnam, in response to a Trump claim that torturing enemies “absolutely” works. “It’s not only the issue of torture. It’s also the issue of what kind of nation we are.”

Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a civil rights hero who has served in Congress since 1987, received last year’s medal, while the Dalai Lama was recognized the year prior.

Other recent recipients of the annual award, which was established in 1988, include a range of political figures, activists, and entertainers, including Malala Yousafzai, Hillary Clinton, Muhammad Ali, Steven Spielberg, Mikhail Gorbachev, Tony Blair, and Bono.

A limited number of tickets to the ceremony at the National Constitution Center, at 525 Arch St., will be available to the public. More information is at constitutioncenter.org/libertymedal.