Friends, family members and former political rivals will pay tribute to the late Sen. John McCain, in a ceremony Saturday at the Washington National Cathedral, the culmination of a week of public memorials for the Arizona lawmaker, who died Aug. 25 at age 81. McCain is to be buried Sunday in a private ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery.
Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush are set to be among the speakers at the cathedral. The Democrat and Republican, who each won contests for the White House against McCain, are listed first as "friends," a symbol that while he relished political combat, McCain could also be a peacemaker. Pallbearers for the Republican senator include Democrats Gary Hart, Sheldon Whitehouse and Russ Feingold — McCain's partner in pushing for campaign finance reform.
At the U.S. Capitol on Friday, Vice President Pence remembered McCain as a champion of America's armed forces.
"I never traveled with a colleague who was better to our enlisted or harder on our generals," said Pence, whose son is a Marine. "John McCain loved the men and women who served in the uniform of the United States."
The motorcade carrying McCain's flag-draped casket is scheduled to pause on its way from the Capitol to the cathedral Saturday at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. His widow, Cindy McCain, is set to lay a ceremonial wreath there. McCain, a naval aviator, was shot down during the Vietnam War and spent 5 1/2 years as a POW.
McCain's daughters Meghan and Sidney and his son Jimmy will also speak during the service Saturday, along with his longtime Senate allies Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman, and Kelly Ayotte. Opera singer Renée Fleming will perform "Danny Boy" as part of the carefully choreographed service, which will include both religious hymns and patriotic anthems.