Remembering Senator John McCain as he lies in state at the Arizona State Capitol

The morning of his 82nd birthday Sen. John McCain was honored with a motorcade to the Arizona State Capitol where he would lie in state for 24 hours. Inside the building waited McCain’s closest friends and family.

At approximately 10 a.m., McCain was placed on Catafalque in the center of the Capitol’s Rotunda via transfer ceremony to Guard of Honor.

Father Edward A. Reese, S.J. began the ceremony with an invocation.

See our tears for our brother, our father, our husband, our fellow citizen, our senator. Let these tears bring blooms in the desert he loved, and the country he served, and in all our hearts. Amen.”

Both former Sen. Jon Kyl and Gov. Doug Ducey spoke at the ceremony.

Kyl began with sharing that McCain was a man who believed in America, its people and its institutions.  Kyl, who served three terms in the U.S. Senate before retiring in 2013, reminisced about working with McCain. In his remarks, he talked about how McCain knew better than anyone else when, where and how to assert American power.

“While I believe John’s greatest contribution was to American national security, we must comment on Arizona interests as well. In word, he loved his adopted state,” Kyl said. “He represented our values all over the world as senator from Arizona. America is stronger for his fierce defense of our values. We can be proud he was our senator. I consider it a great privilege to have served with John and I will miss as a friend and as a strong force for America.”

Continuing with the sentiment of McCain’s love of the country, Ducey shared that he believes the senator’s refusal of release until all American soldiers were released with him while being a prisoner of war is the moment that best captures his patriotism.

“His talk of country first wasn’t simply a slogan on a yard sign. It was what John McCain had done and demonstrated over and over and over again,” Ducey remarked. “As we march forward with the courage and resolve he would have demanded, we [can] take comfort in knowing … John McCain will always have our back.”  

The service was finished with former U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe presenting the wreath and a benediction from Sen. Jeff Flake.

Gathered in this spot, we are especially grateful that he made Arizona his home. More than 7 millions of thy children have done likewise and all of them, all of us, are grateful for John’s able representation over these many years.”

McCain’s wife, Cindy McCain, was the first person to pay respects. She rested her head on her husband’s casket for a moment before exiting the Capitol.

To the rest of the world, John McCain was Arizona,” Ducey said. “Imagining Arizona without John McCain is like picturing an Arizona without the Grand Canyon. It’s just not natural.”

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, at North Phoenix Baptist Church, with limited public seating. Following the memorial, the senator will be flown from Goldwater Air National Guard Base at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport to the Joint Base Andrews military facility southeast of Washington, D.C. 

McCain’s body will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol on Friday, Aug. 31, before being moved to the Washington National Cathedral Saturday morning. His family will stop at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to place a wreath along the way. The National Cathedral service is not open to the public, but it will be streamed live. The senator will be laid to rest at the U.S. Naval Academy cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland, after a private funeral.

Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

Emily Richardson

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