In final message, John McCain says ′do not despair,′ as Trump orders White House flag returned to half mast | News | DW | 27.08.2018
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In final message, John McCain says 'do not despair,' as Trump orders White House flag returned to half mast

John McCain's farewell letter to the US has been released. It comes as President Trump, bowing to pressure, ordered the US flag above the White House returned to half mast in honor of the late senator.

The 81-year-old Senator John McCain who died on Saturday after a long illness left a statement to be read by Rick Davis, his former presidential campaign manager.

"Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here," McCain wrote shortly before his death. "Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history."

McCain also wrote that recent judicial reforms and proposed legislation to decriminalize certain corruption offenses raised:  "troubling questions," about the commitment of the government to "hold high-level officials accountable."

Funeral procession

McCain's body will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington before a procession passing by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama are expected to speak at the service on Sunday at the Washington National Cathedral. A private funeral will follow at the Naval Academy Chapel and McCain is to be buried at the academy cemetery.

USA Senator John McCain and then presidential candidate George W. Bush in 2000

USA Senator John McCain and then presidential candidate George W. Bush in 2000

Flag Uproar

US President Donald Trump was not expected to attend any of the services and had not mentioned McCain before US flags over the White House began Monday morning at full-staff.

However, after widespread criticism came over US media, the flags were again lowered on Monday afternoon as Trump made his first reference to McCain: "Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain's service to our country." Trump had previously merely issued condolences to McCain's family via Twitter.

White House Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to comment on reports that Trump had refused to issue a statement prepared by staff praising the heroism and life of McCain.

Trump and McCain had come to political blows many times and Trump notably commented during the 2016 presidential campaign: "He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured." According to public record, Trump deferred his military draft four times on educational grounds, and once for having heel spurs on both feet.

The president's words on Monday were all about re-negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Tributes paid

The marks of respect for McCain came not just from US presidents and senators, who saw McCain's desk in the Chamber draped in black fabric with a vase of white roses on Monday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called McCain: "A tireless fighter for a strong trans-Atlantic alliance. His significance went well beyond his own country."

French President Emmanuel Macron wrote that McCain was: "A true American hero. He devoted his entire life to his country."

Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu, said McCain's support for the Jewish state never wavered: "It sprang from his belief in democracy and freedom."

In Romania, McCain was remembered for urging the government to maintain its fight against corruption.

In Vietnam, people went to the US Embassy to pay their respects to McCain who had played an important role in normalizing diplomatic relations with the US in 1995. In October 1967, the then US Navy pilot McCain parachuted out of his Skyhawk jet to be taken prisoner and spend more than five years as a prisoner of war.

jm/bw (AP, AFP)

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