ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Sen. John McCain’s last trip ended on a grassy hill at the U. S. Naval Academy in the view of the Severn River-and earshot of the midshipmen present, and future, and in addition to a lifelong friend.
A horse-drawn caisson carrying the senator’s coffin led a procession of mourners from the academy in the chapel of the cemetery Sunday, after a private service. The senator’s widow, Cindy, and his children were among those who walked behind the caisson. Joining them were family and friends, and members of McCain’s Class of 1958 and military leaders.
The U.S. Navy band played marches along the road and a few hundred Naval Academy midshipmen lined the path. A flyover of military aircraft in the “missing man” formation honored the Marine pilot is shot down over Vietnam and held more than five years as a prisoner of war.
After the American flag was removed from the coffin, a grieving Cindy McCain pressed her to check on the surface, and McCain’s sons Jimmy and Jack both a hug. Secretary of defense Jim Mattis presented the flags to Cindy McCain, and Roberta McCain, the senator’s 106-year-old mother.
The funeral was private according to the wishes of McCain, the Arizona Republican and 2008 presidential candidate, died Aug. 25 of brain cancer at age 81.
That tributes or readings during the funeral service included Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S. C., McCain’s sons Jack and Douglas; retired Gen. David Petraeus, the former director of the CIA; and Mark Salter, McCain’s long-time co-author.
Petraeus said McCain was a man of “great courage, unwavering determination and unwavering devotion to our country and to defend,” according to comments released by the family.
Jack McCain, ” his father said, “He fought hard, unruly, exuberant, because he liked to fight, but more importantly, because he believed in what he was fighting for.” He later added, “My father has fought and suffered, endured defeats, rose from the ground and also fought for the faith with his heroes, to the protection of the country he loved and its causes, to be a better person and make a better world.”
Earlier, as the hearse carrying McCain passed through a gate and into the academy, there was loud applause from the hundreds of people along the street outside on the hot and muggy summer day. Many held their hands over their hearts and waving American flags. Some shouted, “God bless you.”
People in the crowd held signs with the text “Senator John McCain, Thank you For Serving! Godspeed” and “Rest In Peace, Maverick.”
For his final resting place, McCain picked up the historical location, overlooking the Severn River, not Arlington National Cemetery, where his father and grandfather, both admirals, were buried.
Years ago, Chuck Larson, an admiral of itself and an ally in McCain’s life, reserved four plots in the cemetery — two for McCain and herself, and two for their wives, now widows. Larsson died in 2014, and McCain wrote in a recent memoir that he wanted to be buried next to his friend, “in the vicinity where it started.”
Among the pallbearers on a list provided by McCain’s office were Frank Gamboa, his academy roommate; Mattis; and the two men who were Pows with McCain in Vietnam, Fer and John Everett Alvarez Jr.
Tribute to McCain began Wednesday in Arizona, and remained for the rest of the week. On Saturday, talks of his daughter Meghan and two former presidents, Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama have to remember McCain as a patriot who could bridge the painful rivalries.
While their comments made clear their admiration for him, they also represented a rejection of President Donald Trump is of the brand trash talk, divisiveness in politics. Trump and McCain were at odds 2016 during the campaign and for much of Trump’s presidency.