After church service, McCain to depart Arizona for last time

The casket of Sen. John McCain. (AP Photo/Matt York)
The casket of Sen. John McCain. (AP Photo/Matt York)

The celebration of Sen. John McCain's life as a former prisoner of war and maverick politician enters a second day with a church service and a military salute before his casket departs his adopted state of Arizona for the US Capitol.

A motorcade with McCain's remains leaves on Thursday morning from the Arizona Capitol, where McCain has been lying in state so thousands of people could say goodbye.

Visibly bereft family and friends gathered there on Wednesday for an emotional private service, where Cindy McCain pressed her face against her husband's coffin and daughter Meghan McCain erupted in audible sobs.

Arizona residents have been invited to honour McCain on Thursday by lining the route from the Capitol to the North Phoenix Baptist Church, where an honour guard will greet the hearse when it arrives. Along with invited family and friends, around 1 000 seats were being made available to members of the public who signed up.

Former Vice President Joe Biden was delivering remarks at Thursday's service, where a number of friends and family members of McCain will also speak. A choir from the Jesuit-run Brophy College Preparatory school that McCain's sons Jack and Jimmy attended will sing "Amazing Grace" and "Arizona". The recessional music will be 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 on Wednesday was solemn and subdued. But it was nevertheless filled with affecting moments and demonstrations of deep respect for the statesman and Navy pilot war hero who was held by the North Vietnamese for five years and six months 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 at the brief ceremony attended by his wife and children, friends and fellow politicians. McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone while his father, who went on to become an admiral, served in the military.

The Capitol was then opened to the public on Wednesday afternoon, allowing visitors to walk by the flag-draped closed casket after waiting in line outside in the temperatures that reached a high of 40°Celsius. Mariachi singer Jesus Rojas strummed a guitar and sang "Cielito Lindo" in the senator's honor.

Inside, former military members in shorts and T-shirts stopped and saluted. Others placed their hand over their heart or bowed, including Vietnamese-born residents who traveled 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."

By the time government offices closed for the day, as many as 6 000 people had filed by, and that number grew to 7 500 on Wednesday night, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves said.

After Thursday's church service, a motorcade will take McCain's casket to Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport for a final salute from members of the Arizona Air and Army National Guard.

From there, a C-32 military aircraft will take McCain to the East Coast for another public viewing at the US Capitol on Friday.

There will be a service at the Washington National Cathedral on Saturday, followed by burial at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Will you continue to use WhatsApp following the company announcing a change terms of service which would force users to share personal data?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, the terms of service do not bother me enough to switch
52% - 6888 votes
No, I will be switching over to a new service
44% - 5892 votes
I've never used WhatsApp
4% - 541 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.16
(+0.11)
ZAR/GBP
20.59
(-0.05)
ZAR/EUR
18.30
(+0.01)
ZAR/AUD
11.68
(-0.59)
ZAR/JPY
0.15
(+0.02)
Gold
1828.12
(+0.05)
Silver
24.75
(+0.09)
Platinum
1070.99
(+0.29)
Brent Crude
54.89
(-2.34)
Palladium
2377.00
(+0.59)
All Share
63549.75
(-0.52)
Top 40
58446.35
(-0.49)
Financial 15
11916.89
(+0.01)
Industrial 25
83811.01
(+0.08)
Resource 10
63855.25
(-1.46)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo