Mourn­ers pay re­spects to McCain

McCain died last Satur­day of brain can­cer at age 81.

The Niagara Falls Review - - Canada & World - MELISSA DANIELS

PHOENIX — Peo­ple waved Amer­i­can flags and cam­paign-style signs along the side of the road Thurs­day as a mo­tor­cade car­ry­ing Sen. John McCain’s body trav­elled from the state capi­tol to a church for a sec­ond day of me­mo­rial ser­vices for the mav­er­ick politi­cian, former pris­oner of war and two-time pres­i­den­tial can­di­date.

Fam­ily mem­bers watched in si­lence as uni­formed mil­i­tary mem­bers re­moved the sen­a­tor’s flag-draped cas­ket from the black hearse and car­ried it into the North Phoenix Bap­tist for a com­mem­o­ra­tion fea­tur­ing former vice-pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den and other dig­ni­taries.

As the hearse made its way along the 13-kilo­me­tre route, peo­ple held signs that read sim­ply “McCain” and cars on the other side of the high­way stopped or slowed to a crawl in ap­par­ent trib­ute. A few fire­fight­ers saluted from atop a fire en­gine parked on an over­pass when the 11-ve­hi­cle mo­tor­cade with a 17-mo­tor­cy­cle po­lice es­cort passed un­der­neath on In­ter­state 17.

McCain died last Satur­day of brain can­cer at age 81.

The crowd of 3,500 in­side the church stood silently as the cas­ket was placed be­fore a set of flo­ral ar­range­ments and McCain’s fam­ily en­tered be­hind it. Bi­den, 24 sit­ting U.S. sen­a­tors, four former sen­a­tors and other lead­ers were ex­pected to at­tend the me­mo­rial.

Dur­ing Wed­nes­day’s pri­vate ser­vice at the Capi­tol for fam­ily and friends, Cindy McCain pressed her face against her hus­band’s cof­fin, and daugh­ter Meghan McCain erupted in sobs. McCain sons Doug, Jack and Jimmy, daugh­ter Sid­ney and daugh­ter-in-law Re­nee shook hands with some of the thou­sands of peo­ple who filed past the sen­a­tor’s flag-draped cas­ket to pay their fi­nal re­spects.

About 1,000 seats for Thurs­day’s church ser­vice were made avail­able to mem­bers of the pub­lic who signed up. Michael Fel­lars was among those await­ing the mo­tor­cade out­side the church. The Marines vet­eran said he was also the fourth per­son in line Wed­nes­day to at­tend the pub­lic view­ing at the Capi­tol.

“He was about the only politi­cian that I have ever known who cared for the peo­ple in his coun­try, and he tried his level best to make it a bet­ter place in which to live,” Fel­lars said. Hon­our guard mem­ber Valen­tine Costalez praised McCain for cham­pi­oning the mil­i­tary dur­ing his Se­nate ca­reer.

“He’s done so much for us,” said Costalez, who stood watch ear­lier this week while McCain’s body was at a fu­neral home. A choir from the Je­suit-run Bro­phy Col­lege Prepara­tory school, which two of McCain’s sons at­tended, was sched­uled to sing “Amaz­ing Grace” and “Ari­zona” dur­ing the church ser­vice.

The mu­sic cho­sen for the re­ces­sion was Frank Si­na­tra’s sig­na­ture song, “My Way,” pay­ing trib­ute to a man who be­came known for fol­low­ing his own path based on his per­sonal prin­ci­ples. The much smaller ser­vice at the Capi­tol was filled with af­fect­ing mo­ments and demon­stra­tions of deep re­spect for the states­man and Navy pi­lot who was held pris­oner by the North Viet­namese for five-and-a-half years af­ter be­ing shot down over Hanoi.

Gov. Doug Ducey re­mem­bered McCain as “Ari­zona’s favourite adopted son” on what would have been his 82nd birthday. The Capi­tol was then opened to the pub­lic in the af­ter­noon, al­low­ing visi­tors to walk past the closed cas­ket af­ter wait­ing in line out­side in tem­per­a­tures that reached 40 Cel­sius.

In­side, former mil­i­tary mem­bers in shorts and T-shirts saluted. Oth­ers placed their hands over their heart or bowed, in­clud­ing Viet­namese-born res­i­dents who trav­elled from South­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

Ray Rior­dan, an 87-year-old Navy vet­eran who fought in the Korean War, came from Payson, Ari­zona.

“I grew up where a hand­shake was a con­tract and your word was your bond,” Rior­dan said. “He rep­re­sented the last of that as far as I’m con­cerned.”

The McCain fam­ily said about 15,000 peo­ple in all came to pay their re­spects at the Capi­tol.

Af­ter Thurs­day’s church ser­vice, a mil­i­tary air­craft was sched­uled to take McCain’s body back east for a ly­ing-in-state at the U.S. Capi­tol on Fri­day, a ser­vice at the Washington Na­tional Cathe­dral on Satur­day and burial at the U.S. Naval Academy in An­napo­lis, Mary­land.

JUSTIN SUL­LI­VAN GETTY IMAGES

Mil­i­tary hon­our guards carry the cas­ket of U.S. Sen. John McCain from the Ari­zona State Capi­tol to go to a me­mo­rial ser­vice at the North Phoenix Bap­tist Church Thurs­day in Phoenix.

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