Former U.S. presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush will lead mourners on Saturday in a service for the late John McCain, the longtime Arizona senator and Vietnam war hero whose bids for the White House were dashed by the two men.
On the way to Washington’s National Cathedral, the cortege of one of America’s most famous prisoners of war will stop at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial where his wife, Cindy McCain, will lay a wreath to honor those who died in the war.
Obama and Bush, a Democrat and a Republican, will be joined by a collection of former U.S. presidents, senators, Vietnam-era officials and others paying tribute to the statesman who died Aug. 25 of brain cancer, days shy of his 82nd birthday..
Conspicuously absent will be President Donald Trump, who over the past three years engaged in a public feud with McCain, a fellow Republican.
McCain’s family had made clear that Trump was not welcome at memorial services in Arizona and Washington or at Sunday’s private burial service in Annapolis, Maryland, at the U.S. Naval Academy. McCain was a member of the Academy’s Class of 1958.
In Congress, where he laid in state on Friday, McCain was a leading voice for revamping the country’s immigration, campaign finance and environmental laws. But it was his military service, punctuated by years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, that molded McCain’s political life.
McCain, who rose to the rank of captain in the U.S. Navy, was shot down over Hanoi while on a bombing mission in 1967.
Held as a prisoner until 1973, McCain was tortured by his North Vietnamese captors in a jail that Americans dubbed the “Hanoi Hilton.”