PHOENIX—Family, former colleagues, and other dignitaries filed past the flag-draped casket of Sen. John McCain inside the Arizona Capitol on Aug. 29 for the first of several memorial tributes planned for the war hero and two-time Republican presidential candidate.
A hearse bearing McCain’s body arrived at the Phoenix statehouse with a police motorcycle escort for a brief ceremony honoring the Arizona senator, who died of brain cancer on Aug. 25 at age 81.
Gov. Doug Ducey and his wife greeted the hearse along with a phalanx of military personnel, war veterans, law enforcement officers and firefighters in dress uniform.
An Arizona National Guard team carried the coffin into the Capitol rotunda, followed by family members, the governor and other politicians and guests. Speakers paid tribute for about 30 minutes to McCain’s life and legacy.
“He fought like hell for the causes he believed in,” Ducey said. “But along the way, he did it with humor and humanity, and without compromising the principles he held so dear.”
Attendees included three of McCain’s onetime Republican colleagues from Arizona’s congressional delegation—retiring Sen. Jeff Flake, former Sen. Jon Kyl, and former Congressman James Kolbe.
McCain’s wife, Cindy, widely seen as a possible candidate for appointment to succeed her husband, led a procession of relatives and dignitaries past his casket. She paused briefly, stooping down to rest her cheek on the coffin, then patted it gently and moved on.
Her daughter Meghan McCain, co-host of the television talk show “The View,” sobbed openly.
The ceremony marked the start of five days of tributes in Phoenix and Washington for McCain, who would have turned 82 on Aug. 29. Members of the public began lining up hours in advance for a casket viewing that was to begin in the afternoon.
McCain, a Navy pilot who endured 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war after his aircraft was shot down over Hanoi during the Vietnam War, went from military service into a decades-long political career.
Following a Phoenix church service on Aug. 30, McCain’s body will be flown to Washington where he will lie in state on Aug. 31 at the U.S. Capitol before a funeral on Sep. 1 at the Washington National Cathedral. McCain will be buried at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, on Aug. 2.
Ducey has said he will wait until after McCain’s burial to name an immediate successor.
By David Schwartz