John McCain, who died Saturday after a battle with brain cancer, had been planning his funeral services over the past year. As part of the preparations, the senator asked that former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush deliver eulogies at his funeral. The two former rivals of McCain in presidential contests will deliver the eulogies during a service at the National Cathedral. Former Vice President Joe Biden, a longtime friend of McCain, will speak at a separate service in Arizona.
That McCain wanted two of his former rivals to honor him “says you all you need to know about John McCain,” Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake said on CBS’ Face the Nation. “He was quick to forgive, certainly put the good of the country above himself and the fact that his former opponents will be there speaking says all we need to know.”
It had already been widely reported that McCain didn’t want President Donald Trump to attend his funeral. Allies of McCain had told the White House that the senator wanted Vice President Mike Pence to attend instead. That position has not changed, two family friends told CNN.
McCain will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda and will also lie in state at the Arizona Capitol before he is buried in Annapolis, Maryland. “He will be laid to rest at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland,” notes McCain’s official website, which says that a complete schedule of the funeral will be announced later. The burial service in Annapolis is expected to be private, according to the Arizona Republic.
Lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda is reserved for the country’s “most eminent citizens” and is a practice that began in 1852 with the death of Henry Clay, a former House speaker and senator, reports the New York Times. McCain would be the 13th former senator to receive that honor.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered all flags to be lowered to half-staff. President Donald Trump did the same for flags at the White House. Although flags are normally lowered by presidential proclamation, “by executive order and tradition, sitting senators who die in office have flags lowered in their honor from their date of death until their burial,” notes USA Today.
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