Thursday, September 16, 2021

Friends, family members, former presidents give last farewell to John McCain

Washington, Sep 1 (EFE).- Friends, family members, colleagues, political rivals, and even several former US presidents gathered Saturday at the Washington National Cathedral to give their last farewell to Republican Sen. John McCain, who died last week from brain cancer at age 81.

After several days of private ceremonies and memorials in Arizona and in the US Capitol, where he served for more than 30 years, McCain was transported on Saturday to the Washington National Cathedral for a final memorial service.

Among those sitting in the front rows of the Cathedral were Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama, George and Laura Bush, and Alan and Mary Elizabeth Gore, as well as senators from across the political spectrum, including Elizabeth Warren and Lindsay Graham, one of McCain’s closest friends.

The first speaker at Saturday’s memorial service was Meghan McCain, the late senator’s daughter, who took several thinly-veiled swipes at US President Donald Trump.

Former US President Barack Obama delivers remarks during Senator John McCain’s memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC, USA, 01 September 2018.

“He was a great man. We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness – the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly, nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who lived lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served,” she said.

Several months ago, knowing that he was unlikely to beat his brain cancer, McCain explicitly requested that Trump not be invited to his memorial service, as the relationship between the two men was extremely strained.

While the memorial service took place, the president was playing golf, though his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, did attend the ceremony, as well as several top officials like his chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

Before his death, McCain asked former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to offer eulogies during the ceremony.

During his speech, Bush highlighted McCain’s respect for the “dignity inherent in every life – a dignity that does not stop at borders and cannot be erased by dictators,” recalling that the late senator “detested the abuse of power.”

“He was honorable, always recognizing that his opponents were still patriots and human beings. He loved freedom, with the passion of a man who knew its absence,” Bush said, referring to the time McCain spent as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.

Minutes later, Obama gave his eulogy, noting that, although he had strong disagreements with McCain, he never doubted that they were “on the same team.”

“So much of our politics, our public life, our public discourse can seem small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insult and phony controversies and manufactured outrage. It’s a politics that pretends to be brave and tough, but in fact is born of fear. John called on us to be bigger than that. He called on us to be better than that,” the former president said.

Obama recalled that he and George Bush had competed against McCain in two presidential campaigns, though he said the experience had made them “better presidents.”