Phoenix, Aug 30 (EFE).- The late Sen. John McCain was bade farewell by his fellow Arizonans on Thursday and hailed as a “true American hero” in an emotional religious service in Phoenix that was brought to a close with the classic Frank Sinatra number “My Way” – the theme chosen by the senator himself for that moment – as the lawmaker’s casket began its journey to Washington.
Some 3,500 people attended the ceremony at the North Baptist Church, according to local media, including former Vice President Joe Biden, who referred to the Republican as “a brother” and emphasized that “John’s story is the American story, grounded in respect and decency, basic fairness, the intolerance for the abuse of power.”
“John McCain’s impact on America is not over,” said Biden, calling his longtime friend a “giant” and adding that “To paraphrase Shakespeare, we shall not see his like again.”
McCain believed deeply and passionately in the “soul of America” and gave Americans “confidence,” said Biden, whose son Beau died in May 2015 of the same type of aggressive brain cancer that took McCain’s life last Saturday at age 81.
Before the religious service, in which at least 30 of McCain’s Senate colleagues took part, the senator’s remains were transported in a caravan from the Arizona state capitol, where he had lain in state, flanked by citizens carrying US flags and signs from his 2008 presidential campaign, which he lost to Barack Obama.
At the church, those present stood as the casket was brought in covered with a US flag and a chorus sang “Amazing Grace.”
There, the senator’s children and relatives each said a few words about him, along with former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods, who for years was head of the senator’s political team.
Noe Garcia, the pastor of the church, declared McCain to be “a true American hero,” while Tommy Espinoza, an old friend of the senator and president of the Raza Development Fund, had similar words of praise for him.
The ex-Navy pilot was shot down over North Vietnam, held prisoner and tortured for more than five years, later being elected to the Senate and becoming one of the most powerful US lawmakers, not to mention winning his party’s presidential nomination in 2008.
McCain will be buried at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, on Sunday, Sept. 2, after his body lies in state in the US Capitol and a funeral service is held for him at the National Cathedral in Washington.