Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Eulogy for Senator John McCain. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired August 30, 2018 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:00:00] JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The truth is, John's code was ageless, is ageless. When you talked earlier, grant, you talked about values. It wasn't about politics with John. He could disagree on substance, but the underlying values that animated everything John did, everything he was, come to a different conclusion. He'd part company with you, if you lacked the basic values of decency, respect, knowing this project is bigger than yourself. John's story is an American story. It's not hyperbole. It's the American story. Grounded in respect and decency. Basic fairness. The intolerance through the abuse of power. Many of you travel the world, look how the rest of the world looks at us. They look at us a little naive, so fair, so decent. We are the naive Americans. That's who we are. That's who John was. He could not stand the abuse of power. Wherever he saw it, in whatever form, in whatever country. He always loved basic values, fairness, honesty, dignity, respect, giving hate no safe harbor, leaving no one behind and understanding Americans were part of something much bigger than ourselves. With John, it was a value set that was neither selfish nor self-serving. John understood that America was first and foremost, an idea. Audacious and risky, organized around not tribe but ideals. Think of how he approached every issue. The ideals that Americans rallied around for 200 years, the ideals of the world have prepared you. Sounds corny. We hold these truths self-evident, but all men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain rights.

To John, those words had meaning. As they have for every great patriot who's ever served this country. We both loved the Senate, proudest years of my life were being a United States Senator. I was honored to be a United States Senator. We both lamented, watching it change. During the long debates in the '80s and '90s, I would go sit next to John, next to his seat or he would come on the Democratic side and sit next to me. I'm not joking. We'd sit there and talk to each other. I can remember the day when I came out to see John, we were reminiscing around it. It was '96, about to go to the caucus. We both went into our caucus and co-incidentally, we were approached by our caucus leaders with the same thing. Joe, it doesn't look good, you sitting next to John all the time. I swear to god. Same thing was said to John in your caucus. [laughter]

[14:05:00] That's when things began to change for the worse in America in the Senate. That's when it changed. What happened was, at those times, it was always appropriate to challenge another Senator's judgment, but never appropriate to challenge their motive. When you challenge their motive, it's impossible to get to go. If I say you are going this because you are being paid off or you are doing it because you are not a good Christian or this, that, or the other thing, it's impossible to reach consensus. Think about in your personal lives, all we do today is attack the oppositions of both parties, their motives, not the substance of their argument. This is the mid-'90s. It began to go downhill from there.

The last day John was on the Senate floor, what was he fighting to do? He was fighting to restore what you call regular order. Just have to treat one another again, like we used to. Senate was never perfect, John, you know that. We were there a long time together. I watched Teddy Kennedy and James Easton fight like hell on capitol hill then go to lunch together. John wanted to see, quote, regular order at large. Get to know one another. You know, John and I were both amused and I think Lindsey was at one of these events where John and I received two prestigious awards where the last year I was vice president and won immediately after. For our dignity and respect, we showed to one another, we received an award for civility in public life.

There's a college, Allegheny College puts out this award every year for bipartisanship. John and I looked at each and said what the hell is going on here. No, not a joke. I said to Senator flake, that's how it's supposed to be. We get an award? I'm serious. Think about this. Getting an award for your civility. Getting an award for bipartisanship. Classic John, Allegheny College of hundreds of people, got the award and the Senate was in session. He spoke first and, as he walked off the stage and I walked on, he said, joe, don't take it personally, but I don't want to hear what the hell you have to say. [laughter]

One of John's major campaign people is now with the Senate with the governor of Ohio, was on this morning and I happened to watch it. He said that he had a strange relationship, they always seemed to have each other's back. Whenever I was in trouble, John was the first guy there. I hope I was there for him. We never hesitate to give each other advice. He would call me in the middle of the campaign, I'd say what the hell did you say that for? You just screwed up, joe. I'd occasionally call him, look, I've been thinking this week about why John's death hit the country so hard. Yes, he was a long-serving Senator with a remarkable record. Yes, he was a two-time presidential candidate who captured the support and imagination of the American people and, yes, John was a war hero, demonstrated extraordinary courage. I think of John and my son when I think of Ingersoll's words when duty throws the gauntlet down to fate and honor scorns to compromise with death, that is heroism. Everybody knows that about John.

[14:10:00] But, I don't think it fully explains why the country has been so taken by John's passing. I think it's something more intangible. I think it's because they knew John believed so deeply and so passionately in the soul of America. He made it easier for them to have confidence and faith in America. His faith in the core values of passionately in the soul of America. He made it easier for them to have confidence and faith in America. His faith in the core values of this nation made them somehow feel it more genuinely themselves. His conviction that we, as a country, would never walk away from the sacrifice generations of Americans have made to defend liberty and freedom and dignity around the world. It made average Americans proud of themselves and their country. His belief, and it was deep, that Americans can do anything, withstand

anything, achieve anything. It was unflagging and ultimately reassuring. This man believed that so strongly. His capacity that we truly are the world's last best hope, the beacon to the world. There are principles and ideals more than ourselves worth sacrificing for and if necessary, dying for. Americans saw how he lived his life that way. And they knew the truth of what he was saying. I just think he gave Americans confidence. John was a hero, his character, courage, honor, integrity. I think it is under stated when they say optimism. That's what made John special. Made John a giant among all of us. In my view, John didn't believe that America's future and faith rested on heroes.

We used to talk about, he understood what I hope we all remember, heroes didn't build this country, ordinary people being given half a chance are capable of doing extraordinary things, extraordinary things. John knew ordinary Americans understood each of us has a duty to defend, integrity, dignity and birthright of every child. He carried it. Good communities are built by thousands of acts of decency that Americans, as I speak today, show each other every single day deep in the DNA of this nation's soul lies a flame that was lit over 200 years ago. Each of us carries with us and each one of us has the capacity, the responsibility and we can screw up the courage to ensure it does not extinguish.

There's a thousand little things that make us different. Bottom line was, I think John believed in us. I think he believed in the American people. Not just all the pre-ambles, he believed until the American people, all 325 million of us. Even though John is no longer with us, he left us clear instructions. Quote, "believe always in the promise and greatness of America because nothing is inevitable here." Close to the last thing John said took the whole nation, as he knew he was about to depart. That's what he wanted America to understand. Not to build his legacy. He wanted America reminded, to understand. I think John's legacy is going to continue to inspire and challenge generations of leaders as they step forward and John McCain's America is not over. It is hyperbole, it's not over.

[14:15:00] It's not even close. Cindy, John owed so much of what he was to you. You were his ballast. When I was with you both, I could see how he looked at you. Jill is the one, when we were in Hawaii, we first met you there and he kept staring at you. Jill said go up and talk to her. Doug and Ann, Sydney, Mac, Kimmy, Bridgette, you may not have had your father as long as you would like, but you got from him everything you need to pursue your own dreams. To follow the course of your own spirit. You are a living legacy, not hyperbole. You are a living legacy and proof of John McCain's success.

Now John is going to take his rightful place in a long line of extraordinary leaders in this nation's history. In their time and in their way stood for freedom and stood for liberty and have made the American story the most improbable and most hopeful and most enduring story on earth. I know John said he hoped he played a small part in that story. John, you did much more than that, my friend. To paraphrase Shakespeare, we shall not see his like again. [applause]

ANDREW MCCAIN, SON OF JOHN MCCAIN: The second reading is from second Timothy chapter four verses 6-8.

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering. The time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Now, there is in store for me the crown of righteousness which the lord, the righteous judge will award to me on that day, not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

[14:20:00] BROPHY STUDENT ENSEMBLE: I love you, Arizona;

Your mountains, deserts and streams; The rise of Dos Cabezas* And the outlaws I see in my dreams;

I love you Arizona, Superstitions* and all; The warmth you give at sunrise; Your sunsets put music in us all.

Oo, Arizona; You're the magic in me; Oo, Arizona, You're the life-blood of me;

I love you Arizona; Desert dust on the wind; The sage and cactus are blooming, And the smell of the rain on your skin.

Oo, Arizona; You're the magic in me; Oo, Arizona, You're the life-blood of me.

REV. EDWARD REESE, PRESIDENT, ST. IGNATIUS COLLEGE PREPARATORY: Jesus, at the final meal shared with his friends, charge them, remember me. Remember me in the breaking of the bread. Bread has to be broken to be shared to be shared.

We are celebrating, today, the life of a man who unselfishly was broken, that we might be one again. John McCain, our brother, Jesus' brother. To remember to bring together John McCain, I invite you to share the words of Henry Scott Holland. Laugh as we always laughed at jokes we enjoyed together. Play. Smile. Think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever that household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without effect, without a trace of shadow on it. We pray, lord, god, may John McCain's vision be in our eyes. His voice in our words and our tongue. His listening to the needs of others in our ears. His love for his country in our hearts. Bless you, John McCain. In the name of the father, the son and the holy spirit.

[14:25:00] [BRYAN JEFFRIES, PERFORMING "GOING HOME"]

REV. NOE GARCIA, SENIOR PASTOR, NORTH PHOENIX BAPTIST CHURCH: As we come to a close, I would like to read some words that were beautifully written by his daughter, Megan. "My father is gone and I miss him as only an adoring daughter can. In this loss and in this sorrow, I take comfort in this, John McCain, hero of the he public, his little girl, awaits today to something more glorious than anything on this earth. Today, he enters his true and eternal life, greeted by those who have gone before him. She writes, rising to meet the author of all things. We will grieve. We will mourn."

But, I want you to think about her words. In this very moment, Senator John McCain is in heaven. With god the father and Jesus the son. No more cancer. No more pain. No more sickness. No more burdens of this world. In fact, his biggest concern is probably what channel do I have to find in heaven to watch Larry play on Sundays? All joking alive, he is a free man and more alive than he's ever been. See, Senator McCain professed Christianity. Here is the hope in what Senator McCain believed. Romans 3: 23. For all sin fallen short of the glory of god. Romans 6:23. The wages of sin was death. The gift of god is eternal life through his son, Jesus Christ.

The hope we have is Senator John McCain believed this passage from John 3:16, that for god so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. Who believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. When we grieve and when we mourn, understand that he has eternal life and he is with the father in heaven because of his faith in Jesus Christ. That is something to find comfort in. That is the reason why Megan can write these words so beautifully. Let us pray together. Father, as we leave from this place, we ask you to give comfort to Cindy and the family. As vice president, Joe Biden said, there will be days that the freshness of this loss hits them hard, father. In those moments, lord, when they find themselves by themselves mourning this deep pain and sorrow, will you comfort them, god? Will you give them the strength they need to walk every single day. God, as we mourn, as scripture says, we mourn differently with those who have hope because Senator John McCain believes you sent your only son to walk this earth and live a sinless life, to die on the cross for our sins for the things we deserve. He believed Jesus Christ was put in the tomb and he rose again and he defeated death. That is a reason to celebrate and that is a reason for us to have comfort. It's in Jesus name we pray, amen. I want to thank you all, again, on the behalf of the McCain family for being here and supporting them.