Meghan McCain, speaking at her father's memorial ceremony in Washington, D.C.'s National Cathedral, gave a forceful rebuke to the rhetoric coming out of the White House just a few miles away, defining the America of John McCain as one that is generous and welcoming, modest yet strong -- and already great.
"The America of John McCain is, yes, the America of Vietnam, fighting the fight, even in the most grim circumstances, even in the most distant, hostile corner of the world, standing for the life and liberty of other peoples in other lands," McCain said.
"The America of John McCain is generous and welcoming and bold. She's resourceful, confident, secure. She meets her responsibilities. She speaks quietly because she's strong. America does not boast because she has no need to. The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great."
The bipartisan crowd of dignitaries applauded.
Watch the powerful moment:
Meghan McCain, speaking through tears at her father's memorial service at Washington, D.C.'s National Cathedral, said that the family, friends, as well as current and former leaders were gathered there to "mourn the passing of American greatness, the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice, those that live lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served."
"He was a great fire who burned bright," McCain continued, adding that she and her family had heard from many in the past several days who "stood in the warmth and light of his fire and found it illuminated what's best about them."
"We are grateful to them because they're grateful to him," she said.
And to his critics: "A few have resented that fire, for the light it cast upon them for the truth it revealed about their character. But my father never cared what they thought, and even that small number still have the opportunity as long as they draw breath to live up to the example of John McCain."
"I am here before you today saying the words I have never wanted to say, giving the speech, I have never wanted to give, feeling the loss I have never wanted to feel," she said at its opening. "My father is gone."
Friends, family and former presidents gathered this morning at Washington National Cathedral to honor the life of the late Sen. John McCain. The ceremony is beginning now.
Here are the moments to expect:
- Anthems in Procession by The Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of Washington
- Welcome by The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral
- Hymn 608, “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” (The Navy Hymn), sung by the congregation
- Tribute by Meghan McCain
- Reading of Poem, “The Requiem,” by Jimmy McCain
- Anthem, “My Country Tis of Thee,” sung by the congregation
- Tribute by Senator Joseph I. Lieberman
- Tribute by Dr. Henry A. Kissinger
- Anthem, “Battle Hymn of the Republic”
- Tribute by President George W. Bush
- Tribute by President Barack H. Obama
- Anthem, “Battle Hymn of the Republic”
- The Collect for Burial by The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral
- Prayer for Those Who Grieve by The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral
- Reading, Wisdom 3:1-5, 9, by Senator Kelly Ayotte
- Anthem, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” led by the Washington National Cathedral Choir
- Reading, 2 Corinthians 5:6-8, read by Sidney McCain
- Hymn, “How Great Though Art,” sung by the congregation
- Gospel, John 15:12-13, read by Senator Lindsey Graham
- Homily by Father Edward A. Reese, S.J.
- Musical Reflection, “Danny Boy,” sung by Renee Fleming
- The Lord’s Prayer
- The Prayers
- Concluding Prayer, led by The Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of Washington
- Anthem, “America the Beautiful”
- The Commendation, led by The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral; The Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of Washington; and Father Edward A. Reese, S.J.
- The Blessing by The Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of Washington
- The Dismissal by The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral
- Postlude, “Final,” from Symphony I, OP.14 and Piece d’orgue, BWV 572
The three former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, joined by former first ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton (a former senator, secretary of state, and Democratic nominee for president herself), are sitting in the first pew as the ceremony begins.
Former vice presidents Al Gore and Dick Cheney are there, too.
Bush and Obama will give remarks.
Sen. John McCain arrived at National Cathedral this morning just before 9:45 a.m. ET, and his casket was removed from the hearse and walked up the steps by honor guard members as his family solemnly looked on. Their hands were over their hearts.
Sen. John McCain's staff provided the following list of notable attendees expected to attend this morning's service. It includes a number of current and former US leaders, current and foreign leaders, and at least seven POWs:
Current and Former U.S. Leaders:
- President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
- Vice President Al Gore
- Vice President Richard Cheney
- Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
- Secretary of State John Kerry
- Senators Bob Dole and Elizabeth Dole
- Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Anthony Kennedy
- Representative Gabby Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
- Speaker of the House Paul Ryan
- Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer
- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
- Governor Mitt Romney
- Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats
- Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao
- Attorney General Jeff Sessions
- Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie
- Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy Walter E Carter, Jr.
- Secretary of Commerce Don Evans
- Several Current and Former Members of Congress
Current and Former Foreign Leaders:
- President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko
- Mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko
- Former Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk
- Former Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine and Former Diplomatic Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ukraine Danylo Lubkivsky
- Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg
- Former Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen
- President of Panama Juan Carlos Varela
- Former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili
- Minority Leader of the Parliament of Georgia (UNM) David Bakradze
- Vice Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia (Dream Party) Tamar Chugoshvili
- HE Sheikh Thani Bin Hamad Al Thani
- Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Adel al-Jubeir
- Director for International Affairs for the Office of the President of the Republic of Poland Witold Dzielski
- Former President of Estonia Toomas Ilves
- Defense Minister of Estonia Juri Luik
- Foreign Minister of Estonia Sven Mikser
- Former Canadian Minister of Defense and Member of Parliament Peter MacKay
- Canadian Parliamentary Representative to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrew Leslie
- Defense Minister of Canada Harjut Singh Sajjan
- Foreign Minister of Lithuania Linas Linkevicius
- Foreign Minister of Latvia Edgars Rinkevics
- Former President of Colombia Jose Santos
- President of the Bundestag (German Parliament) Wolfgang Schaeuble
- Speaker of Taiwan Parliament Su Jia-chyuan
- Former Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United States Devinda Subasinghe
- Commander Everett Alvarez Jr. (USN-ret)
- General Charles (Chuck) Boyd
- Colonel Michael (Mike) Brazelton
- Captain Gerald (Jerry) Coffee
- Captain Michael (Mike) Cronin
- Colonel John Fer
- Rear Admiral Robert (Bob) Shumaker
Cindy McCain laid a wreath at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial this morning in honor of her late husband, Sen. John McCain. McCain, and other members of the McCain family, are making their way to the National Cathedral for the funeral service now.
Friends, family and former presidents will gather at Washington National Cathedral this morning to honor the life of the late Sen. John McCain.
The ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m. ET, will feature tributes from Republican former President George W. Bush, who prevailed over McCain in the race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, and Democratic former President Barack Obama, who ran against McCain in the 2008 presidential election and won.
The remarks from former Democratic and Republican presidents who were once rivals to McCain will send an unmistakable message of unity and bipartisanship at a time when Washington is deeply divided.
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Meghan McCain, one of the late senator's daughters, are also on the list of those slated to speak at Saturday's memorial service.
Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden, who delivered an emotional eulogy for McCain at a memorial service in Arizona on Thursday, will serve as a pallbearer on Saturday.
Actor Warren Beatty, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and former chief of staff to McCain Mark Salter will also serve as pallbearers, among others.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close friend of McCain's, and McCain's children Jimmy and Sidney McCain will take part in the ceremony as well.