Family, colleagues and supporters gathered at the Arizona state Capitol on Wednesday to honor the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
The memorial service in Phoenix is the first of a days-long procession for McCain, who died on Saturday a year after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer.
Speakers at the memorial, which included McCain’s current and former colleagues, touted his military service during the Vietnam War and support for the Defense Department during his time in Congress.
“John McCain believed in America. He believed in its people, its values and its institutions,” said former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). “I consider it a great privilege to have served with John and I will miss him as a friend and as a strong force for America in the world.”
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) praised McCain as an individual who pushed himself, and urged others, to serve an interest bigger than themselves.
“His talk of country first wasn’t simply a slogan on a yard sign. It was what John McCain had done and demonstrated over and over and over again,” he said. “He fought like hell for the causes he believed in.”
Ducey will be responsible for naming McCain’s successor in the Senate. Ducey, who has swatted down any public talk of who he will pick, isn’t expected to make the announcement until after McCain is buried on Sunday.
Ducey touted McCain’s independence and ties to his “adoptive” state.
” ‘Arizona has enchanted and claimed me,’ he wrote,” Ducey said. “But in reality we were the ones who were privileged. Privileged to have John McCain fighting for us.”
“Imagining an Arizona without John McCain … [is] just not natural,” he added.
McCain’s motorcade arrived at the state Capitol just before 1 p.m. Eastern. His casket, covered with an American flag, was retrieved by a team from the Arizona National Guard and taken into the rotunda, where he will lie in state for the rest of the day.
Cindy McCain, the late senator’s wife, followed behind the casket and was escorted by their sons, Jack McCain and Jimmy McCain. Meghan McCain, one of their daughters, cried throughout the ceremony and stood weeping in front of McCain’s casket.
Ducey praised Cindy McCain during his speech at the memorial, telling her “Arizona loves you, Cindy McCain.”
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) gave an emotional benediction to close McCain’s memorial, recalling the “sacrifice” of McCain’s family.
“Let us remember thy humble servant with gladness and cheerfulness, to answer his call to summon the better angels of our nature. To see and appreciate the humanity in our opponents,” Flake said.
In addition to Flake, Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) attended Wednesday’s memorial.
The service marks the beginning of a days-long public send-off for McCain. The public is expected to start being allowed into the Arizona rotunda around 2 p.m., and the Capitol is expected to remain open until the public finishes paying their respects.
A separate memorial service is expected to take place on Thursday in Phoenix, including a tribute from former Vice President Joe Biden.
McCain’s body will then be brought to Washington, D.C., where he will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol on Friday. A public memorial service will be held at the Washington National Cathedral on Saturday that will include tributes by former Presidents George W. Bush and Obama.
McCain is expected to be laid to rest on Sunday at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Md..