John McCain Received The Liberty Medal From None Other Than 'Dear Friend' Joe Biden

"Thank you, old friend, for your company and your service to America."

On Monday night, Sen. John McCain received the Liberty Medal, presented to him by the National Constitution Center "for his lifetime of sacrifice and service." The award is given annually to those "of courage and conviction who have strived to secure the blessings of liberty to people the world over." (Last year's recipient was Rep. John Lewis.)


McCain's medal was presented to him by none other than former vice president and current chair of the Constitution Center Joe Biden, who received a medal of his own (the Medal of Freedom) last year from President Obama. 

Biden praised McCain's "courage and loyalty" in his remarks, adding, "I can think of no better description of the man we're honoring tonight." The Arizona senator is admired not only for his military service and 30-year career in Congress, but also for his decision to continue to serve the public during his battle with brain cancer, through which many colleagues have shared their support.

"John, you have broken many times, physically and otherwise, and you have always grown stronger, but what you don't really understand in my humble opinion is how much courage you give the rest of us looking at you," Biden said of his former Senate colleague, according to CNN.

McCain, meanwhile, began his acceptance speech by thanking his "old, dear friend," sharing that they have known each other for more than 40 years. "We didn't always agree on the issues. We often argued — sometimes passionately. But we believed in each other's patriotism and the sincerity of each other's convictions. We believed in the institution we were privileged to serve in," he said, adding, "And through it all, whether we argued or agreed, Joe was good company. Thank you, old friend, for your company and your service to America."

As Dr. Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, said in her own remarks, "Such distinctly bipartisan friendship underscores why we so warmly celebrate this year's Liberty Medal recipient."

"What a privilege it is to serve this big, boisterous, brawling, intemperate, striving, daring, beautiful, bountiful, brave, magnificent country," McCain said in his speech. "With all our flaws, all our mistakes, with all the frailties of human nature as much on display as our virtues, with all the rancor and anger of our politics, we are blessed."

At the same time, he warned against "half-baked, spurious nationalism," calling the United States "a land made of ideals, not blood and soil."

McCain called himself "the luckiest guy on earth" to have been able to serve his country for so long.

"I've been inspired by the service of better patriots than me," he said. "I've seen Americans make sacrifices for our country and her causes and for people who were strangers to them but for our common humanity, sacrifices that were much harder than the service asked of me. And I've seen the good they have done, the lives they freed from tyranny and injustice, the hope they encouraged, the dreams they made achievable."

"May God bless them," he added.

In yet another show of bipartisanship, former President Barack Obama tweeted his own congratulations to McCain Monday night, writing that he is "grateful" to the senator "for his lifetime of service to our country."

See both Biden's and McCain's speeches in the video below:


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