WASHINGTON – Presidents in the past and present joined members of Congress of both parties and the leaders in the mourning Sen. John McCain and praised him for a life of service and performance.
The former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who blocked the Arizona Republican’s own White House ambitions, are among those expected to speak at McCain’s funeral.
“These were bitter contests, both of them,” said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and “to ask them to speak at your funeral, and for them to be honored on the ability, that tells you everything you need to know.”
Flake told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that McCain “was quickly forgiven for sure – put the good of the country above themselves, and the fact that his former opponents will be there to speak says everything we need to know.”
McCain is expected to be remembered at ceremonies in Arizona and Washington this coming week, or next, as the family prefers to give more time for the Congress to return to the Capital of the summer recess. McCain is to be buried at the U. S. Naval Academy Cemetery on a peninsula overlooking the Severn River in Annapolis, Maryland. On Saturday, his grave was marked where he had written, he wanted to be buried — next to his best friend from his Naval Academy days, Adm. Chuck Larson.
President Donald Trump, who once criticized McCain for being taken prisoner during the War in Vietnam, said that his “deepest sympathy and respect” went out to McCain’s family. First lady Melania Trump tweeted thanks to McCain for his service to the country.
McCain, 81, died Saturday at his ranch in Arizona after a long struggle with brain cancer.
A black hearse, accompanied by a police motorcade, could be seen driving away from the ranch near Sedona, where McCain spent his last weeks. For the 50 miles along Interstate 17 in a southerly direction, at every overpass, and every exit, people watched the parade. Hundreds of people, including many waving American flags, parked their car and got out to look.
Trump’s brief Twitter statement said “the hearts and prayers” are with the family and McCain.
Trump and McCain were at odds until the end. The president, who as a candidate in 2016, ridicules McCain’s capture in Vietnam, had invested in the ailing senator to vote against the Republican efforts to turn back President Barack Obama’s health care law.
Earlier this summer, McCain gave a blistering statement criticizing Trump’s meeting with the Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Obama, who triumphed over McCain in 2008, said that despite their differences, McCain and he shared a “faith in something higher – the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed.”
Obama said they “saw our political battles, even as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of the high ideals in the home, and to teach them about the world.”
Bush, who defeated McCain for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination, called McCain a “man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order” and a “friend whom I deeply miss.”
In other words flocked from all over the world.
The French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted in English that McCain “a true American hero. He devoted his entire life to his country.” Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said McCain’s support for the Jewish state “never disappeared. They came from his faith in democracy and freedom.” And the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, the so-called McCain “a tireless fighter for a strong trans-Atlantic alliance. His importance went beyond his own country.”
McCain was the son and grandson of admirals and followed them to the U. S. Naval Academy. A pilot, he was shot down over Vietnam and held as a prisoner of war for more than five years. He went on to win a seat in the House, and in 1986, the Senate, where he for the rest of his life.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called McCain a “fascinating personality.”
“He would sometimes be in a bad place with several members, including myself, and when this would blow over, it was as if nothing had happened,” McConnell said Saturday after a GOP state dinner in Lexington, Kentucky. “He also had a wicked sense of humor and every exciting moment will come out better.”
Former Vice-President Joe Biden, who developed a friendship with McCain while they were together in the Senate, said the Arizona legislature “will cast a long shadow.”
“The spirit drove him was never extinguished: we are here to commit ourselves to something bigger than ourselves,” said Biden
The Senate’s top Democrat, New York’s Chuck Schumer, said he wants to name the Senate building of McCain’s suite of offices after McCain.
“If you go through life, you meet some really great people. John McCain was one of them,” Schumer said. “Perhaps most of all, he was a truth teller – never afraid to speak truth to power in a time where it is now all too rare.”
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