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U.S. Sen. John McCain to Speak at Commencement

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February 2, 2005

U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) will address graduates, parents and guests at Northwestern University’s 147th annual commencement exercises Friday, June 17.

Sen. McCain will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at the ceremony in Ryan Field on the University’s Evanston campus.

"Recognized for his independence of thought, John McCain has a long and distinguished career of public service and is a leader in national defense and foreign policy matters," said University President Henry S. Bienen. "We warmly remember his and Senator Feingold's 2001 town hall meeting at Northwestern regarding campaign finance reform. We are pleased he has accepted our invitation to return, and we look forward to hearing from and honoring him."

The son and grandson of prominent Navy admirals, McCain graduated from the Naval Academy in 1958 and began his career as a Naval aircraft carrier pilot. He was shot down over Vietnam in 1967 and was held as a prisoner of war in Hanoi for five-and-a-half years. When his captors discovered he was the son and grandson of admirals, he was offered a chance to go home, but he refused to break the military code that POWs are released in the order that they are captured.

He was released from captivity in 1973, having survived the injuries he received when he was shot down, the beatings from an angry crowd and his captors, a year of torture, and two years of solitary confinement. During his military career he received a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit, the Purple Heart and a Distinguished Flying Cross.

He was discharged from the Navy in 1981 as a Captain and the next year was elected to Congress from the first congressional district of Arizona. In 1986, he was elected to the U.S. Senate to take the place of Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater. Sen. McCain was re-elected in November 1998 with nearly 70 percent of the vote. In 2004, Sen. McCain received over 76 percent of the vote and began serving his fourth term in January.

The senior senator from Arizona, Sen. McCain is currently the chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and serves on the Armed Services, and Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committees.

Sen. McCain has seven children and four grandchildren. He and his wife, Cindy, reside in Phoenix.