Sen. John McCain made his final trip Sunday to his alma mater — the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland — to rest in peace beside a lifelong friend.
Family members, military leaders, friends from his Class of 1958 and midshipmen attended a private memorial service Sunday at the academy’s chapel, which was followed by a procession to the burial site.
McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona, GOP presidential nominee and prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, died Aug. 25 from brain cancer at age 81.
The private ceremony was as carefully planned as the rest of the events that have stretched from Arizona to Washington.
On Saturday at the National Cathedral in Washington, speeches by his daughter Meghan McCain and two former presidents — Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama — remembered McCain as a patriot who could bridge painful rivalries.
But even as their remarks made clear their admiration for him, they represented a repudiation of President Trump’s brand of politics.
McCain’s family, including his 106-year-old mother, Roberta McCain, escorted his remains to Annapolis.
As the hearse carrying McCain passed through a gate and into the academy, there was a loud applause from the several hundred people lining the street outside. Many held their hands over their hearts and waved American flags and applauded loudly; some shouted “God bless you.”
On Friday, many of McCain’s friends and colleagues recalled his character, wit and charm during a memorial service at the Rotunda of the Capitol, where he lay in state.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lauded McCain as a cocky aviator, noble statesman and paragon of patriotism “all rolled into one.”
Mr. McConnell, a Kentucky Republican who spent years debating the nation’s fate alongside the late Arizonan, said one of McCain’s finest values was his honesty and candor.
“You knew John would either be your staunchest ally or your most stubborn opponent,” he said.
Mr. McConnell joked that enemy troops who guarded him during his capture in the “Hanoi Hilton” during McCain’s captivity in the Vietnam War probably had to form a therapy group after dealing with the feisty future senator.
And yes, Mr. McConnell said, a few senators probably contemplated forming a similar group after going toe-to-toe with him.
The House chaplain, the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, said McCain spoke the truth even when it wasn’t “politically expedient,” making his imprint all the more great.
“As a senator, he served with honesty and integrity, working both with whom he agreed and many with whom he did not,” the reverend said.
Representing the White House, Vice President Mike Pence told mourners at that ceremony that Mr. Trump, who frequently sparred with McCain, genuinely respects the late senator’s service to the country.
He lauded McCain’s continuous service to the nation, morphing from a military combatant to a statesman whose imprint is still felt in the halls of power.
“For 35 years, John served in these very halls under this very dome, and he fought for what he believed in,” Mr. Pence said.
Like others, Mr. Pence — a former congressman — said he didn’t always see eye-to-eye with McCain. And when that happened, the senator “almost always noticed,” he quipped.
McCain clashed with Mr. Trump during the campaign, when the president questioned the senator’s status as a hero during the Vietnam War.
And Mr. Trump frequently blasted McCain — if not by name — for turning back GOP hopes for an Obamacare repeal bill.
But Mr. Pence praised McCain’s commitment to GOP principles, including limited government and the recent tax-reform bill.
“We will ever remember that John McCain served his country, and John McCain served his country honorably,” the vice president said.
⦁ This article is based in part on wire service reports.
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