John McCain memorialized as hero, fighter and wiseacre

Casket of Senator John McCain | Photo: MGN Online

Sen. John McCain was eulogized Thursday as a "true American hero" — and a terrible driver with a wicked sense of humor and love of a good battle — at a crowded church service for the maverick politician that ended with the playing of Frank Sinatra's "My Way."

Posted: Aug 30, 2018 11:42 AM
Updated: Aug 30, 2018 3:24 PM

PHOENIX (AP) — Sen. John McCain was eulogized Thursday as a "true American hero" — and a terrible driver with a wicked sense of humor and love of a good battle — at a crowded church service for the maverick politician that ended with the playing of Frank Sinatra's "My Way."

Addressing an estimated 3,500 mourners, former Vice President Joe Biden recalled "the sheer joy that crossed his face when he knew he was about to take the stage of the Senate floor and start a fight."

Biden, a Democrat who was among the fast friends the Republican senator made across the aisle, said he thought of McCain as a brother, "with a lot of family fights."

The service for the statesman, former prisoner of war and two-time presidential candidate unfolded at North Baptist Church after a motorcade bearing McCain's body made its way from the state Capitol past Arizonans waving American flags and campaign-style McCain signs.

Family members watched in silence as uniformed military members removed the flag-draped casket from a black hearse and carried it into the church. McCain died last Saturday of brain cancer at 81.

McCain's longtime chief of staff Grant Woods, a former Arizona attorney general, drew laughs with a eulogy in which he talked about McCain's "terribly bad driving" and his sense of humor, which included calling the Leisure World retirement community "Seizure World."

Woods also recalled the way McCain would introduce him to new staff members by saying, "You'll have to fire half of them."

The church's senior pastor, Noe Garcia, pronounced McCain "a true American hero."

The church service brought to a close two days of mourning for the six-term senator and 2008 GOP presidential nominee in his home state.

A motorcade then took McCain's body to the airport, where it put aboard a military aircraft for the flight 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, on Sunday.

Neither Biden nor other speakers uttered President Donald Trump's name, but Biden made what some saw as a veiled reference to the president when he talked about McCain's character and his opposition to those who "lacked the basic values of decency and respect, knowing this project is bigger than yourself."

Biden said McCain "could not stand the abuse of power wherever he saw it, in whatever form, in whatever country."

Dabbing his eyes at times, Biden also referred to his own son's death from cancer, saying of the disease, "It's brutal, it's relentless, it's unforgiving." And he spoke directly to McCain's widow, Cindy McCain, in the front row: "You were his ballast."

Sinatra's "My Way" paid tribute to a politician who became known for following his own path based on his personal principles.

McCain clashed openly with Trump, who mocked McCain for getting captured during the Vietnam War. Two White House officials said McCain's family had asked that Trump not attend the funeral services.

Twenty-four sitting U.S. senators, four former senators and other leaders were among those expected at Thursday's memorial.

The memorial was laced with humor and featured a racially and ethnically diverse roster of speakers and other participants.

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who is black, talked about his unlikely connection with McCain, a big fan of the state's sports teams.

"While from very different worlds, we developed a meaningful friendship," said Fitzgerald, adding that McCain didn't judge others on their skin color, gender or bank account but on their character.

As the 11-vehicle motorcade with a 17-motorcycle police escort made its way toward the church, people along the 8-mile (13-kilometer) route 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 as the motorcade passed underneath on Interstate 17.

One man shouted, "We love you!"

On Wednesday, a private service was held at the Arizona Capitol for family and friends. McCain's widow pressed her face against her husband's coffin, and daughter Meghan McCain erupted in sobs.

An estimated 15,000 people filed past the senator's casket to pay their final respects, and McCain sons Doug, Jack and Jimmy, daughter Sidney and daughter-in-law Renee shook hands with some of them.

On Thursday, Michael Fellars was among those awaiting the motorcade outside the church. The Marine veteran said he was also the fourth person in line Wednesday to attend the viewing at the state Capitol for McCain, a Navy pilot held prisoner by the North Vietnamese for 5½ years after being shot down over Hanoi.

"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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 314509

Reported Deaths: 7247
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21626259
Hinds20359415
Harrison17934309
Rankin13634278
Jackson13447246
Madison10099217
Lee9980174
Jones8381163
Forrest7683152
Lauderdale7191241
Lowndes6401147
Lamar623086
Lafayette6200118
Washington5339134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462798
Panola4588107
Pearl River4512146
Marshall4443103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420772
Monroe4113133
Union411076
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3968110
Hancock379386
Leflore3497125
Sunflower336090
Tate334084
Pike3325105
Scott315973
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311669
Itawamba300477
Copiah297065
Coahoma295479
Simpson295288
Tippah288768
Adams286882
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Marion269280
Leake268373
Wayne262641
Grenada261487
Covington259681
George248048
Newton246861
Winston227281
Tishomingo226967
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw207857
Holmes189173
Clay185454
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178841
Clarke178080
Calhoun170832
Yalobusha164338
Smith162434
Walthall133945
Greene130633
Lawrence128624
Montgomery126942
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton99525
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83823
Quitman80916
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67331
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 532895

Reported Deaths: 11001
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson771431528
Mobile41089808
Madison34837505
Tuscaloosa25810454
Montgomery24355588
Shelby23730249
Baldwin21191309
Lee15892171
Calhoun14522316
Morgan14324279
Etowah13861353
Marshall12250223
Houston10581281
Elmore10060205
Limestone9986151
Cullman9705194
St. Clair9702243
Lauderdale9441242
DeKalb8846187
Talladega8255176
Walker7246277
Autauga6938108
Jackson6815112
Blount6694137
Colbert6310134
Coffee5524119
Dale4850111
Russell443238
Chilton4308112
Franklin426282
Covington4136118
Tallapoosa4039152
Escambia393977
Chambers3578123
Dallas3557152
Clarke351161
Marion3130101
Pike311377
Lawrence300798
Winston275673
Bibb261564
Geneva251477
Marengo249664
Pickens234761
Barbour231756
Hale223277
Butler216469
Fayette212562
Henry189044
Cherokee184745
Randolph181742
Monroe178040
Washington167639
Macon159950
Clay156857
Crenshaw152757
Cleburne149141
Lamar142935
Lowndes139053
Wilcox127130
Bullock122841
Conecuh110629
Coosa107928
Perry107826
Sumter104832
Greene92534
Choctaw61124
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