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Statement from ASU President Michael M. Crow on Senator John McCain

Saturday, August 25, 2018 - 5:30pm

The entire Arizona State University community joins the nation in mourning the loss of Sen. John McCain. Sen. McCain had an extraordinary impact on this university, the state of Arizona, our nation and the world. He represented the best of America, and his passing leaves a void that will not easily be filled.

It’s been said many times before, but bears repeating now: Sen. McCain is a true American hero. He dedicated his life to serving this great nation, never wavering in his belief in the inherent strength and goodness of America and its promise. He believed that our greatest assets could be found in the most unlikely places, and that the values that unite us as Americans are far greater than that which divides us.

Throughout his life Sen. McCain demonstrated an irrepressible spirit that would lead him to take on some of the greatest challenges of our time. He inspired the nation with his character-driven leadership and steadfast commitment to promoting freedom, democracy, national security and human rights.

We will remember Sen. McCain as a fighter. Never one to back down from a challenge, he saw opportunity where others saw obstacles. Whether working with colleagues across the political spectrum, taking difficult positions on important issues, or showing up when it counted most, Sen. McCain understood that real leadership takes courage. And more, even in defeat, which he faced after the 2008 presidential election, he showed the nation graciousness and provided us all a compelling, unifying example.

I was fortunate to have met Sen. McCain more than two decades ago while working at Columbia University and from there our friendship and working relationship grew. Among our common interests, Sen. McCain and I shared great admiration for Teddy Roosevelt, and particularly TR’s memorable speech from 1910 about being “in the arena.”

It’s worth quoting, I think, because it applies so powerfully to the engaged and engaging life John lived: “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”

For those of us who had the good fortune to know Sen. McCain personally, we are better for it. For the countless lives he impacted through his leadership, courage and compassion, we are grateful. And while today our community grieves the loss of a friend and colleague, Sen. McCain’s legacy will continue to inspire the work done at his namesake, the McCain Institute for International Leadership at ASU, and continue to provide insights to scholars and citizens alike through his archives.

Our thoughts go out to his family and loved ones at this difficult time.