McCain Ends 81-year Journey with Burial at Naval Academy

From left, Meghan McCain, Cindy McCain, Jimmy McCain and his wife Holly pause as they view the casket of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., arrive at Washington National Cathedral for a memorial service in the nation's capital on Saturday, Sept. 1. McCain, 81, died from brain cancer on Aug. 25. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
From left, Meghan McCain, Cindy McCain, Jimmy McCain and his wife Holly pause as they view the casket of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., arrive at Washington National Cathedral for a memorial service in the nation's capital on Saturday, Sept. 1. McCain, 81, died from brain cancer on Aug. 25. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

John McCain is being laid to rest at the U.S. Naval Academy after a five-day procession that served as a final call to arms for a nation he warned could lose its civility and sense of shared purpose.

The private ceremony in Annapolis, Maryland, was as carefully planned as the rest of McCain's farewell tour, which began in Arizona after he died Aug. 25 from brain cancer and continued on to Washington.

On Saturday, speeches by McCain's daughter Meghan and two former presidents -- Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama -- remembered McCain as a patriot who could bridge painful rivalries. While the former presidents' remarks made clear their admiration for him, they also represented a repudiation President Donald Trump's brand of tough-talking, divisive politics.

"So much of our politics, our public life, our public discourse can seem small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insult and phony controversies and manufactured outrage," Obama said. "It's a politics that pretends to be brave and tough but in fact is born in fear. John called on us to be bigger than that. He called on us to be better than that."

Bush called his 2000 rival for the GOP presidential nomination a friend. "John's voice will always come as a whisper over our shoulder -- we are better than this, America is better than this," Bush said.

But it was Meghan McCain's emotional remarks that most bluntly rebuked Trump, who had mocked her father for being captured by the enemy during the Vietnam War. At the pulpit of the spectacular cathedral, with Trump's daughter Ivanka in the audience, McCain's daughter delivered a broadside against the uninvited president.

"The America of John McCain," she declared with a steely stare, "has no need to be made great again because America was always great."

The audience of Washington's military, civilian and other leaders burst into applause.

McCain's family, including his 106-year-old mother, Roberta, is escorting his remains to Annapolis on Sunday.

McCain's choice of burial location was as deliberate as the other details of his procession. Instead of the grandeur of Arlington National Cemetery, he chose an historic site overlooking the Severn River where his father and grandfather, both Navy admirals, are buried.

Admiral Charles "Chuck" Larson, McCain's beloved friend from their Class of 1958 at the Naval Academy, had reserved four plots in the storied cemetery -- two for McCain and himself, and two for their wives, now widows.

Larson died in 2014 and McCain wrote in his recent memoir that he wanted to be buried next to his friend, "near where it began."

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This article was written by Laurie Kellman from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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