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Arizona Memorial Service for Senator John McCain. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired August 30, 2018 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:30:00] TOMMY ESPINOZA, FRIEND OF JOHN MCCAIN: He was warm. He was energy. He was going 100 miles an hour, but yet he made time to be with you.
And then the second time we get a call to come to Las Vegas. This is, of course, when he's in his presidential campaign. And we end up in Las Vegas with his two right-hand folks that have always run his campaigns, which I have the greatest respect for. So we do the quick chitchat and then John says, I want you to speak on my behalf at the Republican convention.
Senator, I want to remind you I'm a Democrat.
I don't care. I want you there. You're my friend, I want you there. I said, yes, I'll be there. He said, well, he says, with a big smile on his face, watch out when you start your car.
I said, OK, Senator, I'll do that. So John kind of put me out on the national scene. And I must confess he did a number of things that I could stand here all day and share with you, different stories.
I will tell you that that one time when we met is when Meghan was on the TV program and I don't even remember the name of the TV program, Meghan. But he said, well, you know, Meghan is on TV now, and blah, blah, blah. I go yes, OK. Do you see her? No, Senator, I don't watch TV that much. Well, you start watching her.
OK. So that was our great Senator.
As we were walking out, he asked my wife, he says, I've got a question for you. If I put a woman on our ticket as vice president, what do you think about that? Well, my wife isn't the type that holds back. She's a Mexican from Mexico City, and they have a tendency of just telling you how it is. And of course, the Senator liked that. So she turns and she says, well, I really this care if it's a man or a woman. If something happens to you, I want to make sure that person can run the country. So John looked at her and says, OK. He looked at his two guys. Of course, we walked out. Needless to say we heard later who he had selected. But again, regardless, there was the Senator again taking the risk of putting forth a woman for vice president of this great country of ours.
So it's of no surprise, it's of no surprise also that he got together with Kennedy to push for immigration reform, because when he talked about immigration, it wasn't so much the politics of it, he would say, you know what, I can't believe these families that come from another country, from Mexico, from Central America, to work, cutting our grass, feeding us, bringing in the labor force that we need, and now we turn on them? That really struck at the heart of what he thought our great country was about. I believe it cost him a presidential campaign. So to me, it's very dear what the Senator is about. To me, John really did reflect our country in its true form.
My father is a Marine, passed away in February. Once a Marine, always a Marine, he'd say. Got wounded in Guam, Purple Heart. When he talked about John McCain, he said, he understands us, he understands us. And I must confess, he did understand us. He understood all of us, whether it was white, black, brown, Asian. To him, it didn't make any difference. What he knew is that we all make America great. We all make America great.
So I hope that in his legacy, the Senators, governors, mayors, city council members, elected officials, embrace the thought of love, because John reflected love, and love of a strong man. And that is nowadays hard to come by. So his legacy will go on for generations, because people will talk about Senator John McCain as one of the greatest heroes in our lifetime.
[13:35:14] And with that, if you permit me, read Timothy 2. "As for me, my life is already being poured away as a libation and the time has come for me to depart. I have fought the good fight to the end. I have run the race to the finish. I have kept the faith."
My dear friend, vaya con dios. Gracias.
LARRY FITZGERALD, ARIZONA CARDINALS BASEBALL PLAYER: "I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's." Senator McCain spoke these heartfelt words as he accepted the Republican nomination for president in 2008. They were the words of an authentic American hero. We all know how the story goes, a fiery Navy pilot shot down by the North Vietnamese over a lake near Hanoi. As his plane spun out of control, he bailed out to plunge into the lake below. That pilot, a young John McCain, was taken hostage as a prisoner of war where he spent more than five and a half years. Almost 2,000 days he would endure countless beatings, torture, solitary confinement, and mental and emotional anguish that none of us will ever have to endure. After getting to know Senator McCain, I felt compelled to visit
Vietnam. I wanted to see the places where the will of John McCain was tested and forged. I saw the lake. I walked the steps. I sat in the cell. And the ordeal that my friend survived became all the more real.
Many people might wonder what a young African-American kid from Minnesota and a highly decorated Vietnam War hero-turned United States Senator might have in common. Well, I thought of a few. I'm black. He was white.
[13:40:05] I'm young. He wasn't so young.
He lived with physical limitations brought on by war. I'm a professional athlete. He ran for president. I run out of bounds.
He was the epitome of toughness. And I do everything I can to avoid contact.
I have flowing locks. And, well, he didn't.
How does this unlikely pair become friends? I've asked myself this same question. But you know what the answer is. That's just who he is.
Over the several years I had the privilege of spending time with Senator McCain, sometimes it was just a visit to our practices, other times it was him texting and saying you, need to pick it up this Sunday.
I'm thankful that through these moments the opportunity that we had to share our lives and, more importantly, our stories. While from very different worlds, we developed a meaningful friendship. And this highlights the very rare and very special qualities of Senator McCain that I came to deeply admire. He didn't judge individuals based on the color of their skin, their gender, their backgrounds, their political affiliations, or their bank accounts. He evaluated them on the merits of their character and the contents of their hearts. He judged them on the work they put in and the principles they lived by. It was this approach to humanity that made Senator John McCain so respected by countless people around the world, including me.
His accomplishments were many. U.S. Senator, presidential candidate, statesman, warrior, and hero. His work ethic, tireless. His fight, legendary. But what made Senator McCain so special was that he cared about the substance of my heart, more so than where I came from. While some might find our friendship out of the ordinary, it was a perfect example of what made him an iconic figure of American politics and service to fellow man. He celebrated differences. He embraced humanity. Championed what was true and just, and saw people for who they were. Yes, ours was an unlikely friendship, but it's one that I will always cherish.
I've had the honor of attending several of the Sedona forums hosted by Senator McCain and his remarkable wife, Cindy. They were world leaders in politics, business, science and education to discuss the most pressing matters of our time. Issues like health care, global warming, technology and human trafficking. These leaders gathered to find real solutions, and they gathered because Senator McCain asked them to be there. His devotion to making Arizona, the United States and the whole world a better place for everyone has inspired countless leaders, like those at the Sedona forums. I'm confident his legacy of devotion and to the common good will continue to inspire people around the world long after today.
A few years ago, he was kind enough to take me on a personal tour of the U.S. Senate. It was obvious that Senator McCain was highly regarded. He believed to be right and was good regardless of which political side of the aisle his opinion fell on. I saw how respected he was and how much admiration he commanded from people from across the political spectrum. But that admiration wasn't surprising, because Senator McCain was known as a man of integrity and conviction. A man who, at times, just as he sacrificed himself for his fellow POWs in Vietnam, willingly chose to sacrifice his own political gains in order to accomplish what he believed was best for all. As a result of this type of sacrifice, he may have lost the support of a political ally here and there, but he gained the respect and admiration of an entire nation.
In closing, I'd like to honor the love I saw in Senator McCain. He loved the people of Arizona, serving them passionately and diligently for decades. He took that same love to Washington and boldly advocated for the freedoms and liberties he had grown to love as a young Navy pilot. But the love I saw most was the love he had for his wife, Cindy, and his children. I heard him speak about them often, and the love always came pouring through in every word.
[13:44:55] Senator McCain, it's been a true honor to call you friend. Your toughness and bravery inspired us, your sacrifice and risk for lives. Your convictions won our admiration. Your love set an example for all of us to follow.
Jackie Robinson once said, "A life is not important except in the impact that it has on other lives." Senator McCain, we will miss the blessings of being in your presence, but we will never forget the impact you had on the world and, more importantly, on each of the lives that you touched. We are all better for having known you.
Rest in peace, my friend.
(APPLAUSE) JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My name is Joe
I'm a Democrat.
And I loved John McCain.
I have had the dubious honor over the years of giving some eulogies for fine women and men that I've admired. But, Lindsay, this one is hard.
The three men who spoke before me I think captured John, different aspects of John in a way that only someone close to him could understand. But the way I look at it, the way I thought about it was that I always thought of John as a brother. We had a hell of a lot of family fights.
We go back a long way. I was a young United States Senator. I got elected when I was 29. I had the dubious distinction of being put on the Formulations Committee, which the next youngest person was 14 years older than me. And I spent a lot of time traveling the world because I was assigned responsibility -- my colleagues in the Senate knew I was chairman of the European Affairs Subcommittee, so I spent a lot of time at NATO and then the Soviet Union. Along came a guy a couple of years later, a guy I knew of, admired from afar, your husband, who had been a prisoner of war, who had endured enormous, enormous pain and suffering, and demonstrated the code, the McCain code.
People don't think much about it today, but imagine having already known the pain you were likely to endure and being offered the opportunity to go home but saying no. As his son can tell you, in the Navy, last one in, last one out.
So I knew of John. And John became the Navy liaison officer in the United States Senate. There's an office, then it used to be on the basement floor. Members of the military who are assigned to Senators when they travel abroad to meet with heads of state or other foreign dignitaries. And John had been recently released from the Hanoi Hilton, a genuine hero, and he became the Navy liaison.
For some reason we hit it off in the beginning. We were both full of dreams and ambitions, and an overwhelming desire to make the time we had there worthwhile. Try to do the right thing. To think about how we could make things better for the country we loved so much. And John and I ended up traveling every time I went anywhere. I took John with me or John to be me with him. We were in China, Japan, Russia, Germany, France, England, Turkey, all over the world. Tens of thousands of miles. And we would sit on that plane and, late in the night, when everyone else was asleep, and just talk. Getting to know one another. We'd talk about family. We'd talk about politics, we'd talk about international relations. We'd talk about promise, the promise of America. We were optimists and believed there's not a single thing, beyond the capacity of this country, for real, not a single thing. And, when you get to know another woman or man, you begin to know their hopes and their fears, get to know their family before you meet them, you get to know how they feel about important things.
[13:50:57] We talked about everything except captivity and the loss of my family that just occurred, my wife and daughter, the only two things we didn't talk about. But, I found that it wasn't too long into John's duties that Jill and I got married. Jill is here with me today. Five years, I had been a single dad, and no man deserves one great love, let alone two. And I met Jill. It changed my life. She fell in love with him and he with her. He'd always call her, as Lindsey later would, too, he would, he'd always call her Jilly. Matter of fact, when they'd get bored being with me on these trips, I remember in Greece, he said, why don't I take Jill for dinner. Later, I would learn they are at a cafe at the port and he had her dancing on top of a cement table drinking Ouzo.
Not a joke. Jilly.
But, we got to know each other well and he loved my son, Beau, and my son, Hunt.
As a young man, he came up to my house and he came up to Wilmington and out of this grew a great friendship that transcended whatever political differences we had or later developed because, above all, above all, we understood the same thing, all politics is personal. It's all about trust. I trusted John with my life and I would and I think he would trust me with his.
We both knew then, from our different experiences, that as our life progressed, we learned more, there are times when life can be so cruel, pain so blinding it's hard to see anything else. The disease that took John's life took our mutual friend Teddy's life, the exact same disease nine years ago, a couple days ago. And three years ago, it took my beautiful son Beau's life. It's brutal. It's relentless. It's unforgiving. And it takes so much from those we love and from the families who love them that in order to survive, we have to remember how they lived, not how they died. I carry with me an image of Beau, sitting out in a little lake we live on, starting a motor on an old boat and smiling away. Not the last days.
I'm sure Vickie Kennedy has her own image, looking, seeing Teddy looking so alive in a sailboat, out in the cape.
For the family, for the family, you will all find your own images, whether it's remembering his smile, his laugh or that touch in the shoulder or running his hand down your cheek. Or, just feeling like someone is looking, and turn and see him just smiling at you, from a distance, just looking at you. Or when you saw the sheer joy that crossed his face the moment he knew he was about to get up and take the stage on the Senate floor and start a fight.
[13:55:05] God, he loved it.
So, to Cindy, the kids, Doug, Andy, Cindy, Meghan, Jack, Bridgette -- and I know she's not here, but to Mrs. McCain, we know how difficult it is to bury a child, Mrs. McCain. My heart goes out to you. I know right now, the pain you all are feeling is so sharp and so hollowing. John's absence is all consuming for all of you right now. It's like being sucked into a black hole inside your chest. It's frightening. But, I know something else, unfortunately, from experience. There's nothing anyone can say or do to ease the pain right now. But I pray, I pray you take some comfort knowing that, because you shared John with all of us, your whole life, the world now shares with you in the ache of John's death. Look around this magnificent place. Look what you saw coming from the state capitol yesterday. It's hard to stand there, but part of it, part of it was, at least it was for me, with Beau, standing in the state capitol, you knew. It was genuine. It was deep. He touched so many lives. I've gotten calls not just because people knew we were friends, not just from people around the country, but leaders around the world calling. I'm getting all these sympathy letters. I mean, hundreds of them. And tweets.
Character is destiny. John had character.
While others will miss his leadership, passion, even his stubbornness, you are going to miss that hand on your shoulder.
Family, you are going to miss the man, faithful man as he was, who you knew would literally give his life away. And for that, there's no bond but time. Time and your memories of a life lived well and lived fully. I make you a promise, I promise you, the time will come, that what's going to happen is six months will go by and everybody is going to think, well, it's passed. But you are going to ride by that field or smell that fragrance or see that flashing image, and you are going to feel like you did the day you got the news. But you know you are going to make it. The image of your dad, your husband, your friend, it crosses your mind and a smile comes to your lip before a tear to your eye. That's who you know. I promise you, I give you my word, I promise you, this I know, that day will come. That day will come.
You know, I'm sure if my former colleagues who work with John, I'm sure there's people who said to you not only now, but the last 10 years, explain this guy to me.
Right? Explain this guy to me. Because, as they looked at him, in one sense, they admired him, but in one sense, the way things changed so much in America, they look at him as if John came from another age, lived by a different code, an ancient, antiquated code where honor, courage, character, integrity, duty, were alive. That was obvious how John lived his life. The truth is, John's code was ageless. Is ageless.
When you talked earlier --