US Congress bids John McCain farewell

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Washington, Sep 1 (IANS) The US Congress, together with family members and friends, bid farewell to Republican Sen. John McCain, whose mortal remains arrived early Friday morning at the Capitol.

They will stay under the Capitol dome all day so that citizens can offer him a final tribute, a distinction reserved for very few throughout the nation’s history, Efe reported.

In the presence of his family including his mother Roberta, 106, the congressional leaders and Vice President Mike Pence paid tribute to the service of the senator, both as a legislator and as a Vietnam War veteran.

Pence, who attended as a representative of the Oval Office, repeated before those present that President Donald Trump had asked him to attend the funeral in his name, though several months ago McCain had said the billionaire would not be welcome at his last rites.

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McCain was one of the Republican senators most critical of the magnate during his over 2 1/2 years in office, being himself the target of the president’s insults on social media.

“It is deeply humbling to stand before you today at the United States Capitol to commemorate the life and service of an American patriot, Senator John McCain,” Pence said.

“The President asked me to be here on the behalf of a grateful nation to pay a debt of honour and respect to a man who served our country throughout his life in uniform and in public office, and it’s my great honour to be here,” the vice president said.

McCain, who died last Saturday at age 81 after fighting brain cancer, was one of the leading US political figures in the last few decades after being a prisoner of war in Vietnam and serving as a senator from Arizona for more than 30 years.

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The memorial services in his honour in Washington will conclude Saturday with a ceremony in the National Cathedral, where former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush will give eulogies at the request of McCain himself, and afterward will be interred Sunday at the US Naval Academy cemetery in Annapolis, 50 km from the capital.

–IANS

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