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'He Was America's Hero': McCain Makes Final Trip to Washington as Nation Remembers His Life, Legacy

08-31-2018
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WASHINGTON – Sen. John McCain has made one last trip to the city where he made such an impact, Washington, DC.

The American hero was greeted by a military honor guard when he touched down at Andrews Air Force Base.

On Friday, he'll lie in state in the US Capitol Rotunda before a final funeral service on Saturday.

The senator's death and reflections on his life have captured the nation. In Arizona, thousands lined the streets, some holding campaign signs, to pay last respects to the Arizona senator of more than 30 years.

"He was America's hero," said Grant Woods, McCain's former chief of staff, during a memorial service for him Thursday at North Phoenix Baptist Church.

Woods explained how McCain's Christian faith sustained him during the years he spent as a POW at the Hanoi Hilton.

"He said, 'On Christmas Eve we celebrated and we got together under this bare light bulb and we sang Christmas carols and we quoted Bible verses that we could remember and we told the Gospel story to each other,'" Woods recalled McCain telling a group of community leaders early in his Senate career.

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald shared memories of his unlikely friendship with McCain.
  
"He ran for president; I run out of bounds," he said, drawing chuckles from the people sitting in the pews.

Then Vice President Joe Biden delivered a heartfelt eulogy for his longtime friend.

Biden and McCain's friendship was born in the early 1970s. Biden was a young senator from Delaware and McCain, just released from POW prison in Vietnam, was the Naval liaison to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  The two traveled the world together forging a deep bond that transcended their political differences.

"I always thought of John as a brother. We had a hell of a lot family fights," Biden said as he wiped away tears.

McCain's code of conduct, he says, was timeless.

"It wasn't about politics with John. He could disagree on substance, but it was the underlying values that animated everything John did, everything he was. You could come to a different conclusion, but he would part company with you if you lacked the basic values of decency, respect, knowing that this project is bigger than yourself," Biden said.

And with McCain's Christian faith, comes the promise of eternity to console his grieving widow, mother and children.

"We will mourn but we will do so with a different hope because of the faith he has placed in Jesus Christ that we can with confidence grieve with the hope to know that this very moment he is spending eternity with Jesus Christ, his Lord and Savior," a pastor prayed.

On Saturday, another display of bipartisanship is planned. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the two men who denied McCain the presidency, will share their thoughts about the senator's life and legacy.

McCain will then be laid to rest at the Naval Academy outside of Washington in Annapolis, Maryland.

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