Thousands gather to give respect to John McCain including the current and former U.S. officials, lawmakers, foreign dignitaries, friends and family members are among the thousands of people who have gathered Saturday at Washington’s National Cathedral for a memorial service for longtime Senator John McCain.
Two former U.S. presidents, Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama, will deliver eulogies as part of a service that McCain himself planned before succumbing to brain cancer a week ago.
McCain’s body laid in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda Friday into Saturday morning after a ceremony honoring McCain. It was attended by McCain’s wife, Cindy, his seven children and his 106-year-old mother, along with hundreds of members of Congress.
At the Capitol, McCain’s coffin rested on a wooden platform known as a catafalque, which was first used in 1865 to support the casket of assassinated president Abraham Lincoln.
The cortege Saturday from the Capitol to National Cathedral paused at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where the late senator’s wife, Cindy McCain, laid a wreath to honor those who died in the war.
In addition to Obama and Bush, others slated to deliver tributes and readings Saturday, include Senator Lindsey Graham, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, who advised then-president Richard Nixon on Vietnam, and McCain family members.
McCain’s pallbearers include actor Warren Beatty, former vice president Joe Biden, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Russian dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza.
McCain said in a farewell letter to the country, “We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe.” He added, “We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.”
President Donald Trump has not been invited to any of the ceremonies for McCain, a decision viewed by many as a rebuke of Trump. A bitter feud between Trump and the two- time presidential hopeful took root during Trump’s 2016 campaign, when he mocked McCain for getting captured during the Vietnam War. “He’s not a war hero,” Trump said. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”
Trump received military deferments from service during the Vietnam War for his college education and bone spurs in his heels.
McCain will be buried Sunday at his college alma mater, the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
Biden on Thursday described his old friend as a man who lived by an ageless code of honor, courage and duty.
“Character is destiny, John had character,” Biden said at a funeral service for McCain in the Arizona capital of Phoenix.
McCain died last Saturday at age 81 after a year-long battle with brain cancer.