Chris McCrory

Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018

‘Go in peace’: Family, friends honor John McCain as Arizona icon

PHOENIX – In ancient Sparta, fallen warriors were carried home on their shields. On Wednesday, the American flag draped the last vessel carrying John McCain, a soldier and senator, husband and father, bringing it to rest on a symbolic shield of his beloved Arizona.

His widow, Cindy McCain, and other family, friends like former Congressman Jim Kolbe and Arizona leaders like Gov. Doug Ducey watched silently as two members of the Army National Guard carried a casket into the Capitol rotunda. The casket was displayed on a mosaic of the Arizona state seal – a shield featuring the state’s motto (God enriches in Latin) and a representation of the five C’s of the state McCain called home for 35 years.

Family members were the first to pay their respects to the senator. Cindy McCain, his wife, touched the casket before laying her cheek against the flag draped across it. Their children walked through after her, some stoic and some emotional. McCain’s daughter Meghan, who often posted photos of her father and updates about his health, sobbed as she touched the casket.

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Ducey reminded those gathered at the private ceremony that McCain’s long relationship with public service began thousands of miles away, in Vietnam, in a lingering image of grimace and stoicism as a wounded prisoner of war.

“Nobody expected John McCain to make it through the night, but dying was not in his plan,” the governor said.

The Navy veteran, who developed into an Arizona Congressman and later the six-term senator, became an Arizona icon, Ducey said. And, like another Arizona wonder, he said, most thought McCain would endure.

“Imagining Arizona without John McCain is like picturing Arizona without the Grand Canyon,” he said. “It’s just not natural.”

Former Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Gilbert, placed a wreath of white roses in front of the casket, then bowed his head.

In the final moments of the service, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, McCain’s Republican colleague and friend, uttered the benediction.

Flake called on God to provide peace to those who knew him.

“Let us go now from this place in peace.”

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