The Forum | Western Civilization

In Memoriam: Senator John McCain

September 4, 2018 by Michael B. Poliakoff

On September 2, 2018, Senator John McCain was laid to rest at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery. Patriot, warrior, legislator, leader, husband, and father, John McCain modeled for America and the world standards of honor and devotion that will inspire future generations. 

The list of his achievements is long and glorious. One story that will not be in the history books, but is a vivid example of his devotion to his friends and colleagues, took place at ACTA’s 2016 annual conference. 

Senator McCain’s friends, the distinguished historian Niall Ferguson, along with his wife, human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, were scheduled to receive ACTA’s annual Merrill Prize for Outstanding Contributions to the Liberal Arts. The date was October 28, 2016, just days before the Senator faced a strong challenge to his bid for reelection. 

Professor Ferguson had requested that, if possible, he would like Senator McCain to offer a few words in his honor as he accepted the Merrill Award. We knew it would be exceedingly difficult for the Senator to find a moment to spare in the midst of this intense campaign. Nonetheless, Senator McCain carved out time to record a magnificent, learned tribute to Professor Ferguson and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

That was the sort of kind and devoted friend he was, a man of prodigious energy and generosity, committed in every way to efforts that make the world a better place. ACTA joins the nation in mourning the loss of this devoted patriot, leader, and friend. 


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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