Joe Biden, McCain children, Larry Fitzgerald to speak at senator’s Arizona memorial

PHOENIX – Former Vice President Joe Biden, who years ago reached across the political aisle to become a longtime colleague and friend to Sen. John McCain, will speak Thursday at the senator’s Arizona memorial service.

“John was many things – a proud graduate of the Naval Academy, a Senate colleague, a political opponent. But, to me, more than anything, John was a friend,” Biden said in a statement on Twitter.

Other scheduled speakers at the memorial include two of McCain’s seven children, Bridget McCain and Andrew McCain, and longtime McCain friends – Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods and businessman Tommy Espinoza, former leader of Chicanos por la Causa.

McCain, known over six terms in the Senate for his ideals and maverick style, died Saturday, a little more than a year after he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.

The 10 a.m. Thursday service at North Phoenix Baptist Church is a public, ticketed event. Tickets are available at johnmccain.com.

On Wednesday, starting at 2 p.m., the senator will lie in state in the rotunda of the Arizona Capitol. The viewing is scheduled to end at 8 p.m., but family spokesman Rick Davis said everyone in line will be allowed to view the senator, no matter how long it takes. The viewing will be livestreamed, according to johnmccain.com.

Other memorial services will follow later this week in Washington, D.C., with private services and burial Sunday at the Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland.

Davis, who is McCain’s former campaign manager, read aloud the senator’s farewell to the public that expressed his love for America and encouraged Americans to see beyond their differences.


-Video by Gabriella Bachara

“We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been,” Davis read.

Meghan McCain, another of the senator’s children, later shared the letter to her 531,000 followers on Twitter.

Davis referred to the longtime friendship between Biden, a Democrat, and McCain, a Republican.

“He’s always had an incredibly close and personal relationship with Joe Biden,” Davis said. “It’s been tested over the years on issue after issue, and yet, they’ve remained steadfast in their personal relationship.”

Biden and McCain remained close even after Biden became running mate and vice president to Barack Obama, who defeated McCain in the 2008 presidential race. Biden was among the stream of visitors arriving in the past several weeks at McCain’s home in Cornville, near Sedona.

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Sen. John McCain says farewell

At a news conference at the state Capitol, Davis said McCain affected people in and out of politics.

“He was truly authentic. He strove everyday to tell the truth, and when he didn’t, he reminded you that he hadn’t told the truth,” Davis said. “He touched so many lives. He knew so many people, but he was always an inspiration to those people.”

The Arizona services will be followed by a public memorial service Friday at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., where McCain will lie in state. An invitation-only service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at Washington National Cathedral. Both services will be live-streamed.

Davis said McCain will be buried Sunday at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, near his best friend, Adm. Charles “Chuck” Larson. McCain and Larson, who died in 2014, roomed together at Annapolis and completed flight school in 1960.

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