On Friday, a packed ballroom of Goldwater Institute supporters gathered for our Annual Dinner in Scottsdale where we dedicated the evening to honoring our veterans for defending liberty. On this Veterans Day, we again extend our gratitude to those who have served in the Armed Forces.

Jon Riches, the Goldwater Institute’s Director of National Litigation and an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve

“The freedoms that we enjoy are not a foregone conclusion,” said Jon Riches, the Goldwater Institute’s Director of National Litigation and an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve. “Our liberty is inherent, but it is not guaranteed. Instead, it must be fought for every day. It must be defended with vigilance.”

Joining in the Annual Dinner celebration were special guests U.S. Representative Dan Crenshaw of Texas and former U.S. Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah. Crenshaw, who is a retired U.S. Navy SEAL, spoke about what makes America great and the principles that our veterans have defended. 

U.S. Representative Dan Crenshaw

Too many in our country today are questioning whether America is good or bad and are pursuing power “under the guise of well-intentioned progress,” Crenshaw explained. That is socialism by another name, which he says “destroys the human spirit.” Amid America’s culture war, we must back up policy with the right cultural foundation, rooted in the framework that the Constitution built. 

American character is about a sense of duty and a commitment to our founding ideals and to patriotism, Crenshaw said. It’s about being virtuous and charitable, being mentally tough and disciplined to achieving individual goals, and being personally responsible. Critically, American character is about freedom and individual liberty—the cornerstone of our society. 

Former U.S. Representative Jason Chaffetz

Chaffetz, too, spoke about American greatness. “I am so amazed by the miracle that is the United States of America,” he said. Veterans, who sacrifice so much for our country, “epitomize the American spirit.” 

The Goldwater Institute was proud to honor one particular American veteran who embodies that spirt—Matt Bellina, a former U.S. Navy pilot who lives with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis(ALS). Bellina has tirelessly fought for the Right to Try, a law that protects terminally ill patients’ ability to try to save their own lives without seeking consent from the government. The Goldwater Institute presented Bellina with the 2019 Freedom Award in recognition to his contribution to liberty. 

Christina Sandefur, Executive Vice President of the Goldwater Institute

“As a Navy pilot, Matt fought to defend our freedom. As a patient advocate, he fought for our Right to Try,” said Christina Sandefur, Executive Vice President of the Goldwater Institute.

“As one of the first to be treated under the federal law, Matt fought for his own life—valiantly sharing his story with the world, opening the door so others could follow him.”

Bellina accepted the award and spoke about his struggle and his commitment to fighting for freedom. “Right to Try is consistent with the idea of individual liberty,” Bellina said. “The path to grace has always been through rugged individualism. Thank you for fighting for it.” Click here to watch a video about Bellina’s story.

Matt Bellina with fellow Right to Try advocate Jordan McLinn of Indiana
Goldwater Institute President and CEO Victor Riches

The Goldwater Institute is grateful to all of those who attended our Annual Dinner in support of our work.

“We’re at the forefront of every fight to defend liberty,” said Goldwater Institute President and CEO Victor Riches. “The work we’re doing at the Goldwater Institute is so important, and we’re winning some huge victories. Our footprint grows bigger every day. Our resolve will only strengthen. No matter the odds, we will never back down in the fight for freedom.”

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