In a tribute that capped days of mourning in Arizona for John McCain, former Vice President Joe Biden said the senator exemplified values that will endure his passing.
Eulogizing his friend, with whom he traveled the world and on whom he leaned in times of personal pain, Biden spoke of the “McCain code,” values forged during his days in the Navy and lived every day afterward. Values that Biden said will endure.
With his voice rising inside the cavernous North Phoenix Baptist Church, Biden rejected the notion that McCain’s death reflects the end of an era.
“Things have changed so much in America, they look at him as if John came from another age because he lived by a different code, an ancient, antiquated code where honor, courage, character, integrity, duty mattered,” Biden said.
“The truth is John’s code was ageless, is ageless. It wasn’t about politics with John. You could disagree on substance,” Biden added. “It was about the underlying values that animated everything John did.”
Biden said most of those who knew him will miss McCain’s character, but for the McCain family, they have lost the man in their lives.
For them, Biden spoke not just as a Washington colleague, but someone who has lost a loved one to cancer. Biden’s son, Beau, died of a similar brain cancer in 2015 at age 46.
“For that, there is no balm but time,” he said. “Time and your memories of a life lived well, lived fully.”
McCain’s funeral drew 24 members of the U.S. Senate and more than 3,000 others whose lives he touched.
It was the final public goodbye to Arizona for McCain, who died Saturday.
The service began with McCain’s daughter Bridget reading verses from Ecclesiastes, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, a time to die.”
Former state Attorney General Grant Woods, a former chief of staff to McCain, then talked about his time working with him. Woods said McCain loved the people of Arizona, the diversity of the community and the state’s natural beauty.
“If John McCain fell in love with Arizona, Arizona fell in love with John McCain. We ran a lot of races here, a lot of elections. We never lost,” Woods said.
Woods kept those in the pews laughing, recounting stories about McCain’s occasionally errant driving and his legendary slight of a senior center.
He also reminded that McCain was a principled fighter for underdogs and for his country.
“He was resolute. He was courageous every step of the way,” Woods said. “He was America’s hero.”
The motorcade escorting Sen. John McCain’s drives past scores of people lined Central Avenue on the way to North Phoenix Baptist Church, on Aug. 30, 2018.
Tommy Espinoza, president of the Raza Development Fund Inc., remembered McCain as a good friend who kept his word.
McCain paid his first personal visit to his home, Espinoza said, on what turned out to be McCain’s birthday. McCain asked Espinoza to co-chair his first Senate campaign knowing he was a Democrat.
And McCain showed an appreciation of the immigrant community, Espinoza said, adding in words with a political point:
“He did understand us. He understood all of us, whether it was white, black, brown or Asian. To him, it didn’t make any difference. What he knew is that we all make America great. We all make America great.”
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald also paid tribute to McCain, saying it was an honor to know him.
Cindy McCain and family stand as Sen. John McCain is carried out of the Arizona State Capitol on Aug. 30, 2018.
Alyssa Williams, The Republic
The McCain family has been part of the congregation of this church, at the southeast corner of Central Avenue and Bethany Home Road, for more than 25 years.
McCain attended the church for decades, though he was never baptized, according to a 2007 interview with McClatchy Newspapers. “I didn’t find it necessary to do so for my spiritual needs,” he said at the time.
He held at least one of his signature town halls there, in August 2009, when the nation was fixated on the then-pending Affordable Care Act, the legislation he saved in July 2017 with a dramatic thumbs down Senate vote.
But in 2009, when he opposed the bill, some in the crowd at the church denounced McCain. One man shouted, “Keep on lying McCain!” as he walked out of the event.
After the event, McCain offered an assessment of another Senate giant, Democrat Ted Kennedy, who had died the day before, from glioblastoma as well. He chose words similar to the ones now used to describe him.
“He was an honorable combatant. He fought for what he believed in,” McCain said in 2009. “I think he became an institution within the institution, and we’ll all miss him.”
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Sen. John McCain’s children Doug, Sidney, Jimmy and Jack McCain, greet people who came to pay their respects to their father at the state capitol.
David Wallace, Arizona Republic
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