PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — Senator John McCain accepted the Constitution Center’s prestigious Liberty Medal on Monday night with a speech that was both fiery and emotional.

The ceremony rose to the challenge of capturing the enormous breath of Senator McCain’s life of service, from a painful recounting of his captivity in Vietnam to his recent vote to defeat the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

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The Senator looked thin but healthy, a sweater vest under his suit jacket, against the chilly evening, and spoke forcefully about U.S. responsibility.

At other times, his voice broke in emotion, as when he proclaimed himself, “the luckiest guy in the world.”

“I’m probably the luckiest person you’ll ever interview,” McCain said in an interview with CBS3’s Jessica Dean. “Because of the life I’ve had. I mean to be able to fly airplanes, to be part of an organization filled with people I loved and respected, the ability to serve in the House of Representatives and the Senate, their presidency. I guarantee you if my old company officer had been told that I would be a candidate for anything other than dog catcher, he would have been surprised.”

FULL SPEECH: Sen. John McCain’s Full Speech At Liberty Medal Ceremony

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McCain has been diagnosed with glioblastoma but says he’s feeling fine.

“I’m feeling fine. I’ve been exercising, I’ve been eating. This is a vicious disease but right now I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

McCain, who joined the Navy in 1958 and rose to the rank of captain during his 22 years of service, couldn’t resist going a bit further than everyone else.

“To abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems,” he said, “is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”


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