Former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush led tributes to Arizona Senator John McCain's funeral service at Washington's National Cathedral. McCain, who served in the Vietnam war before going into politics, passed away at the age of 81 on Aug. 25 from brain cancer.
McCain's daughter Meghan was the first to speak, and she paid an emotional tribute to her father. "He was a great man," she tearfully said. "We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness, the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly, nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who live lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served."
McCain, a Republican, was famously critical of Trump, once referring to a room of his supporters as "crazies" in 2016. Trump wasn't a fan of what he had to say, responding, "He insulted me, and he insulted everyone in that room.... He is a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured." McCain was shot down during flight in the Vietnam war, after which he was captured and tortured. Trump did not attend the ceremony.
Meghan and the rest of McCain's family made it clear that Trump was not welcome at the service. "America does not boast, because she does not need to," Meghan said at the service. "The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again, because America has always been great."
Barack Obama, who beat McCain in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, also delivered kind words. "We come to celebrate an extraordinary man, a warrior, a statesman, a patriot who embodied so much that is best in America," he said of his former rival. "He would maintain that buoyant spirit to the very end, too stubborn to sit still, opinionated as ever, fiercely devoted to his friends and, most of all, to his family."
He even went so far as to highlight his sense of humor, joking, "After all, what better way to get a last laugh than to make George [W. Bush] and I say nice things about him to a national audience."
Obama said that despite their many differences, "We never doubted we were on the same team." He also made sure to talk about McCain in regards to the current state of politics in America, and how he rejected the identity-driven controversies of the Trump era. "John called on us to be bigger than that," he remarked.
George W. Bush said of McCain, "He was honorable, always recognizing that his opponents were still patriots and human beings. He loved freedom with the passion of a man who knew its absence."
McCain's body was taken to a church in Phoenix, Arizona on Thursday.