Remarks of Senator John McCain

 Upon Receipt of the National Hero Award

 Monday, January 11, 2010


"Thank you President Saakashvili for those generous remarks -- and for the immeasurable honor that you have bestowed upon me today. I am deeply humbled that you would grant me an award reserved only for your fellow citizens of Georgia -- and for your greatest heroes at that. Of all the honors I have received in my life, the National Hero Award is among the most meaningful, and it is one I will cherish forever.
“I have the great privilege of being joined by my two good friends and colleagues from the U.S. Senate: Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming and Senator John Thune of South Dakota, one of our Senate Republican leaders. I want to thank my friends for being here today.
“Ladies and gentlemen: This award is, to be sure, an expression of friendship between two leaders, myself and President Saakashvili, who I've known and admired for many years. But I view this honor as so much more than that: It is an expression of partnership and solidarity between our two nations -- nations confronted by common challenges, bound by common interests, and united by common democratic values: individual liberty and equal justice, human rights and human dignity.
“It is these interests, these convictions, that join our nations in a friendship that is greater than any one leader, greater than any one government, greater than the events of today and tomorrow. Our friendship is as enduring as our fidelity to the indivisible values we share.
“My hope for Georgia is the same as my hopes for every nation, large or small -- that your democracy will continue to develop, and thrive, and sink deep institutional roots; that you will realize the fullness of your talents in a growing and prospering economy, which is so amply on display here in your gorgeous city of Batumi; and that you will forever be affirmed in your sovereignty, your security, and your independence.
“I know there are forces that would deny you these basic rights, and it is my solemn pledge to all Georgians that you have a friend not just in me, but in the United States and its people, and that as partners, we will remain steadfast in our pursuit of a Georgia that is -- like the Europe you aspire to join, and should one day join – “whole, free, and at peace.”
“I thank you for this honor. I thank you for your partnership. I thank you for your sacrifice far from home, side by side with America's sons and daughters, to support others who seek to secure their own freedom. And most of all, my friends, I thank you for the opportunity to share with all the citizens of this great country in a just cause that is greater than all of our narrow interests: an independent and democratic Georgia, which stands as an inspiration to freedom-loving people everywhere. May we forever remain as one in pursuit of that noble ideal.
“Thank you, and God bless you.”