Remarks made by NED Chairman Andrew H. Card, Jr. at IRI 2019 Freedom Dinner
Tuesday, May 7, 2019
It is my great pleasure to join you tonight to pay an overdue tribute to the longtime leader and champion of IRI, my friend, Senator John McCain.
I joined the National Endowment for Democracy as NED’s new Chairman in January 2018. John had returned to Arizona and was fighting for his life when the Endowment decided it needed to honor him – to let him know how much his leadership and solidarity meant to us – and more importantly, to all those on the front lines of the struggle for democracy whom he supported so tirelessly.
We struck this medallion last year – the date on the back says 2018 – but sadly, we did not have an opportunity to present it. We are so grateful to our friends and colleagues from IRI, and to the McCain family, for allowing us to make this presentation this evening.
NED’s Democracy Service Medal was first awarded to the former Polish President and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa and the former AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland in April 1999 on the 10th anniversary of the roundtable agreement that led to the peaceful transition to democracy in Poland 30 years ago. The Medal has since been presented to many distinguished individuals, such as the late Czech President Vaclav Havel and the Dalai Lama, who have also shown immense dedication to the cause of democracy and human freedom.
John McCain, who has been celebrated for his bravery and personal courage, was also one of the great freedom fighters of the modern era. He was a champion of democracy wherever it was being challenged and needed his support. His powerful voice inspired dissidents and political prisoners everywhere and gave them confidence by letting them know that they were not alone. As a result, his death was mourned by democrats in Russia and Ukraine, in China and Burma, in Cuba and Venezuela, and in Egypt, Iran, Zimbabwe, and so many other countries, both large and small.
Senator McCain was also a decades-long friend of the National Endowment for Democracy. As you all know, IRI is one of the Endowment’s four core institutes, and as IRI’s chairman for more than a quarter century, John McCain did an enormous amount of work to build support in the U.S. Congress for NED’s mission and work. For that invaluable support, the Endowment and all those we support are forever grateful.
John McCain was a proud American, and he made countless others proud to be American. In remembering John McCain, we pledge ourselves to continuing the fight for freedom to which he devoted his life.
It is my great honor as Chairman of the National Endowment for Democracy to present posthumously to Senator John McCain the Democracy Service Medal in recognition of his historic contribution to the cause of democracy and human freedom.