John McCain Was Farewelled At An Emotional Funeral At Washington National Cathedral

Former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush delivered eulogies in honor of Sen. McCain.

Sen. John McCain, the senior Republican senator from Arizona, was farewelled in a funeral at Washington National Cathedral on Saturday.

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The former presidential nominee and war hero died on Aug. 25 from brain cancer.

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McCain's daughter Meghan McCain gave the first eulogy of the funeral, declaring that her father was “defined by love.”

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Meghan also seemed to refer to her father's political enemies, including President Trump.

“We gather to mourn the passing of American greatness, the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who'll never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly, nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who lived lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served,” said Meghan.

“My father is gone. And my sorrow is immense. But I know his life, and I know it was great because I know he was good,” she said.

“My father had every reason to think the world was an awful place. My father had every reason to think the world was not worth fighting for. My father had every reason to think the world was worth leaving. He did not think any of those things,” said Meghan.

Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, 95, called McCain “one of those gifts of destiny” who help “to remind us of our essential unity and inspire us to fulfill our sustaining values.”

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Kissinger recalled how McCain, whose father, John McCain Jr., was Commander of the US Pacific Command, “had been much on my mind during the negotiations to end the Vietnam War.”

At the time, McCain was in a prisoner of war camp in Hanoi.

Kissinger explained that during the final phase of negotiations, the Vietnamese authorities offered to release McCain and allow him to return on the official government plane with Kissinger.

“Against all my instinct, I thanked them for the offer but refused it,” said Kissinger. He said that he had feared how McCain would react, but when they met in 1973, McCain told him “thank you for saving my honor.”

It was only later that Kissinger learned Vietnamese captives had also offered freedom to McCain years earlier because of his father, but he refused as it did not follow prisoner of war code of conduct, which states prisoners must be released in the order they were captured.

Kissinger said they never spoke of his captivity again during a half century of close friendship.

“John McCain's name became synonymous with an America that reached out to oblige the powerful to be lawful and give hope to the oppressed,” said Kissinger.

Former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush gave eulogies, after McCain specifically requested before his death that his former political foes speak.

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Obama beat McCain in the 2008 presidential election. Bush won the Republican presidential nomination over McCain in 2000.

“Some lives are so vivid, it's difficult to imagine them ended. Some voices are so vibrant and distinctive, it's hard to think of them stilled. A man who seldom rested is laid to rest. And his absence is tangible, like the silence after a mighty roar,” said Bush during his eulogy.

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Bush spoke about how the pair moved from political rivals to friends.

“For John and me, there was a personal journey. Our hard-fought political history. Back in the day he could frustrate me,” said Bush, to laughter.

“And I know he'd say the same thing about me. But he also made me better. In recent years we sometimes talk of that intense period like football players remembering a big game. In the process, rivalry melted away. In the end, I got to enjoy one of life's great gifts: the friendship of John McCain,” said Bush.

“He was courageous, with a courage that frightened his captors and inspired his countrymen. He was honest, no matter whom it offended. Presidents were not spared,” said Bush, again getting chuckles from the audience.

President Barack Obama followed Bush. “We come to celebrate an extraordinary man. A warrior, a statesman, a patriot, who embodied so much that is best in America,” said Obama.

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Obama spoke about how he was at first surprised when McCain called him asking him to speak, but then realized it made perfect sense.

“It showed his irreverence, his sense of humor, a little bit of a mischievous streak. After all, what better way to get a last laugh than to make George and I say nice things about him to a national audience,” said Obama, making Cindy McCain and the rest of the audience burst out laughing.

“Most of all, it showed a largeness of spirit. An ability to see past differences in search of common ground,” said Obama.

The former president also explained how McCain would come and spend evenings discussing politics with him at the White House during his term.

“We never doubted we were on the same team. For all of our differences, we shared a fidelity to the ideals for which generations of Americans have marched and fought and sacrificed and given their lives. We considered our political battles a privilege, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those ideals here at home and to do our best to advance them around the world. We saw this country as a place where anything is possible. And citizenship is an obligation to ensure it forever remains that way,” said Obama.

Early Saturday morning, a military honor guard team carried his casket out of the US Capitol, where it was lying in state on Friday, to the Washington National Cathedral.

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On Sunday, McCain will be buried at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, following a private ceremony.

Members of the McCain family, including his wife, Cindy, and his seven children, saluted as his casket was removed from the US Capitol.

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On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke at the Capitol service about their Republican colleague.

Among the guests at Saturday's Washington funeral were Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, actors Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, former vice presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore, TV host Jay Leno, and former secretary of state John Kerry.

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The name of Sen. John McCain's father, John McCain Jr., was misstated in an earlier version of this post.

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