Obama and Bush praise John McCain at farewell service | News | DW | 01.09.2018
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Obama and Bush praise John McCain at farewell service

Political leaders are bidding farewell to late US Senator John McCain in Washington. Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush delivered eulogies, but current President Donald Trump wasn't invited.

Mourners gathered at the Washington National Cathedral on Saturday to pay their final respects to Senator John McCain.

The Vietnam War hero died of brain cancer on August 25 at the age of 81.

At McCain's request, former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush were among the speakers leading the ceremony. They were joined by a number of US lawmakers and Vietnam War-era officials honoring the statesman, including ex-Senator Joe Lieberman and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

McCain was a decorated veteran who was held for more than five years as a prisoner of war by the North Vietnamese. The six-term senator ran twice for president, including as the Republican candidate against Obama in 2008.

Read more'Greatest American hero of the last 50 years'

'Passing of American greatness'

Obama, a Democrat, praised McCain's ability to see beyond party politics and work across the aisle, saying he "believed in honest argument and hearing other views."

"We come to celebrate an extraordinary man, a warrior, a statesman, a patriot who embodied so much that is best in America," he added.

George W. Bush paid tribute to the longtime senator's courage and commitment to democracy, describing him as someone who "detested the abuse of power" and would "stand up for the little guy."

"He was honorable, always recognizing his opponents were still patriots and human beings," Bush said. "To the face of those in authority, John McCain would insist: We are better than this. America is better than this."

Meghan McCain opened the service with an impassioned tribute to her father, saying "he was a great man."

"We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness — the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly," she said.

Read moreIn final message, John McCain says 'do not despair'

President Barack Obama speaking at National Cathedral

Barack Obama, who spoke after George W. Bush, said Senator McCain 'made us better presidents'

Trump told to stay away

Sitting President Donald Trump, who feuded publically with McCain and criticized his war record, was requested not to attend. However, his national security adviser, John Bolton, daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, were present.

Other notable attendees included comedian Jay Leno, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Earlier in the day, McCain's casket traveled from the US Capitol, where it had lain in state overnight, to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where his wife, Cindy, laid a wreath.  

He is due to be buried on Sunday with military honors at the US Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, Maryland.

Read moreWorld leaders pay tribute to US Senator John McCain  

Watch video 02:41

Arizona honors memory of maverick Senator John McCain

nm/rc (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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