World Bulletin / News Desk
Democrats and Republicans gathered at the U.S. Capitol on Friday to pay their respects to deceased Senator John McCain whose decades of service drew bipartisan accolades.
“We gather here today to honor an American patriot," Vice President Mike Pence told a packed Capitol rotunda. "On behalf of a grateful nation, we will ever remember that John McCain served his country, and John McCain served his country honorably.”
President Donald Trump was not present for Friday's service with Pence attending in his stead.
Trump and the "maverick" senator from Arizona had a tumultuous history highlighted by Trump's dismissal of McCain as a war hero, and criticism of his military service.
Throughout Trump's political career, the two men stood at opposing ends of the Republican Party. Trump the fierce embodiment of its populist wing, and McCain a stalwart defender of the party's establishment.
McCain was a frequent critic of the president, particularly his handling of Russia and penchant for embracing raw nationalism.
Following a white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left a counter-protester dead, McCain struck a tone at odds with the president who said there were "some very fine people on both sides."
"White supremacists and neo-Nazis are, by definition, opposed to American patriotism and the ideals that define us as a people and make our nation special," McCain said.
McCain died Saturday of brain cancer, outliving expectations after receiving a dire prognosis last year.
Those who gathered at the Capitol building remembered the senator as both a tenacious politician willing to reach across partisan divides, and a prisoner of war who never wavered in his commitment to his ideals.
“This is one of the bravest souls our nation has ever produced," House Speaker Paul Ryan said. "What stands out about John McCain is what he stood for."
For much of his life the senator was unable to do everyday tasks such as combing his hair or putting on a jacket after he was tortured in Vietnam during five years of imprisonment that left him unable to raise his arms much higher than elbow height.
That experience led to McCain's unwavering opposition to torture, constantly advocating against its use.
Thousands of people are expected to pay their respects to McCain at the Capitol. He will lie in state there for a public visitation period before he is commemorated Saturday during a private ceremony at the National Cathedral.
Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the two men who bested him in his successive White House races, will eulogize him.Last Mod: 01 Eylül 2018, 10:04