See John McCain’s memorial services in photos

U.S. Sen. John McCain passed away on Aug. 25 following a battle with glioblastoma, a cancerous brain tumor. He was 81.

McCain served as a naval pilot and was taken as a prisoner of war in Vietnam in October 1967. He was released in 1973 and was awarded the Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross, among many other honors.


The war hero was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982 and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986. His first bid for the presidency came in 2000, when he lost the Republican nomination to George W. Bush. He became the Republican nominee in 2008 but lost the general election to Barack Obama. At the time of his death, he had served the country for 60 years.

Here’s a look a look at some of the most powerful images from the services held to honor his life.

A Grim Diagnosis

In July 2017, McCain was diagnosed with glioblastoma. In the face of a poor prognosis, he remained calm and determined.

“Some say 3 percent, some say 14 percent. You know it’s—it’s a very poor prognosis,” he told CBS last year. “So I just said, ‘I understand. Now we’re going to do what we can, get the best doctors we can find and do the best we can, and at the same time celebrate with gratitude a life well lived.’”

john mccain photo
Getty Images | Jennifer Stewart

 Stopping Treatment

A year after diagnosis, McCain announced that he would no longer pursue treatment for his disease.

“Last summer, Senator John McCain shared with Americans the news our family already knew: he had been diagnosed with an aggressive glioblastoma, and the prognosis was serious. In the year since, John has surpassed expectations for his survival. But the progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict. With his usual strength of will, he has now chosen to discontinue medical treatment,” the McCain family said in a statement.

john mccain photo
Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

His Family Mourns

McCain died on Aug. 25, and several of his family members, including his wife, Cindy, and his daughter, Meghan, took to social media to pay tribute to his legacy.

Meghan McCain Speaks About Her Father

At McCain’s memorial service on Sept. 1 at the Washington National Cathedral, his daughter, Meghan McCain, spoke about her father’s political and personal legacy.

“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, nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who lived lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served,” she said in her remarks. “He was a great fire who burned bright. In the past few days my family and I have heard from so many of those Americans who stood in the warmth and light of his fire.”

meghan mccain photo
Getty Images | Mark Wilson

Barack Obama Calls McCain “An Extraordinary Man”

McCain’s one-time rival in his bid for the presidency, former President Barack Obama, also delivered a eulogy at the memorial held in Washington D.C.

“We come to celebrate an extraordinary man, a warrior, a statesman, a patriot, who embodied so much that is best in America,” Obama said of the Republican senator.

 barack obama john mccain photo
Getty Images | Mark Wilson

George W. Bush Speaks About McCain’s Love of Country

Another former political rival, former President George W. Bush, also spoke at the Sept. 1 service.

“He loved freedom with a passion of a man who knew its absence. He respected the dignity inherent in every life, a dignity that does not stop at borders and cannot be erased by dictators,” Bush said. “Perhaps above all, John detested the abuse of power. He could not abide bigots and swaggering despots.”

The Washington Post/Contributor/Getty

Henry Kissinger Laments A World Without McCain

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger also eulogized McCain, and praised his fearlessness in the face of adversity and commitment to serve his country.

“The world will be lonelier without John McCain, his faith in America and his instinctive sense of moral duty,” Kissinger said near the end of his remarks.

henry kissinger john mccain funeral photo
Getty Images | Mark Wilson

Joe Lieberman Lauds McCain’s Sacrifices In The Name Of Service To His Country

McCain’s close friend and former colleague in the Senate, Joe Lieberman, also delivered remarks.

“There’s a special satisfaction that comes from serving a cause greater than yourself,” the former senator recalled McCain saying throughout the years. “I heard John say those words hundreds of times, particularly to young people, and you all heard them a lot as well. But for him we know they were not just words in a speech, they were the creed that he lived by.”

Before his death, McCain admitted that he regretted not having chosen Lieberman (an Independent) instead of Sarah Palin as his running mate in the 2008 election.

joe lieberman john mccain funeral photo
Getty Images | Mark Wilson

Pallbearers Arrive

Several of McCain’s friends and colleagues served as pallbearers: former U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, actor and political activist Warren Beatty, former Mayor of New York and Bloomberg CEO Michael Bloomberg, former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, former Sen. Gary Hart, former Sen. Russ Feingold, former Sen. Phil Gramm, former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, former McCain chief of staff Mark Stalter, fundraiser Carla Eudy, businessman Stephen Dart, FedEx Chairman and President Fred Smith and Russian politician Vladimir Kara-Murza.

john mccain pallbearers photo
Getty Images | Drew Angerer

Cindy McCain Mourns Her Late Husband

The first of the many services honoring John McCain took place on Aug. 29, which would have been his 82nd birthday, at the Arizona State Capitol. Before leaving the ceremony, his wife, Cindy, laid her cheek on her husband’s casket.

cindy mccain casket photo
Getty Images | Pool

The Public Pays Their Respects

Following the private service in Phoenix, thousands of members of the public came to the Arizona State Capitol to pay their respects to McCain. By the time government offices closed for the day, more than 7,500 people had passed his casket.

public viewing john mccain photo
Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald Said It Was ‘An Honor’ To Know McCain

A number of people honored McCain at an additional service at North Phoenix Baptist Church on Aug. 30. Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was among those who paid tribute to the late senator at this service.

“He was the epitome of toughness; and I do everything I can to avoid contact,” Fitzgerald told the crowd. “I have flowing locks; and, well, he didn’t. How does this unlikely pair become friends? I’ve asked myself the same question. You know what the answer is? That’s just who he is.”

larry fitzgerald john mccain photo
Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

Members of Congress Present Wreaths

House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer all presented wreaths as McCain lied in state in the United States Capitol on Aug. 31. In his remarks, Ryan said that “what stands out about John McCain is what he stood for.”

chuck schumer john mccain funeral photo
Getty Images | Pool

A Candlelight Vigil

On Aug. 31, a candlelight vigil was held for McCain at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The event was organized by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, and visitors placed red, white and blue candles to honor McCain’s legacy.

john mccain candlelight vigil photo
Getty Images | Tasos Katopodis

Renee Fleming Performs ‘Danny Boy’

During the memorial at the Washington National Cathedral on Sept. 1, opera singer Renee Fleming performed an emotional rendition of “Danny Boy,” which McCain previously requested be sung by her at his funeral.

“I’m so incredibly touched that he asked for this and that he asked for me to sing it,” Fleming told CNN. “I’m very moved by that.”

Saul Loeb/Getty

Famous Friends

Other celebrities from the entertainment world in attendance at the memorial included comedian Jay Leno and actress Annette Bening, wife of Warren Beatty, who served as pallbearer. Despite the fact that he was frequently the target of Leno’s jokes during the comedian’s tenure as host of “The Tonight Show,” McCain had a lot of respect for him.

“I always greatly enjoyed the honor of joining Jay in Burbank, despite a recent study that found he made 426 jokes at my expense over the years!” McCain said as a part of a statement regarding Leno’s retirement from the show in 2014.

jay leno john mccain photo
Getty Images | Tasos Katopodis

George W. Bush Slips Michelle Obama Some Candy

Former First Lady Michelle Obama accompanied her husband to the service. She was seated in between her husband and George W. Bush. At one point, Bush was seen taking what looked like a piece of candy from his wife, Laura, and passing it to Obama. The former First Lady mouthed “thank you” in response.

People on Twitter loved this exchange, with CNN politics reporter Brenna Williams writing: “I’d like to think that moments like this between W. Bush and Michelle Obama are what McCain was hoping for.”

michelle obama john mccain funeral photo
Getty Images | Mark Wilson

A Mother Mourns Her Son

John McCain’s mother, Roberta McCain, is 106 years old. She was the last member of the family to touch his casket at the conclusion of the ceremony on Aug. 31. She was seen wiping away tears as her granddaughter, Meghan, stood by her during the service.

roberta mccain photo
Getty Images | Pool

Eldest Son Says Goodbye

McCain had seven children. His eldest son, Doug McCain, gave a final farewell to his father with a series of seven knocks on his casket. The pattern is known as the “Shave And A Haircut” riff, and it’s the ending to a number of popular songs, such as the theme of “The Tonight Show” during the Johnny Carson era. John McCain used the riff to communicate with other prisoners during his time detained in Vietnam.

doug mccain father photo
Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla

The Clintons Honor McCain

Despite the fact that they belonged to opposing political parties, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shared a deep respect for McCain.

“During those long, long flights, we had a lot of time to talk,” Hillary Clinton told CNN of her time traveling the world with McCain during her tenure as Secretary of State. “We talked about the unfairness that sometimes infects our politics. If you were his friend, he would stand up for you, he would defend you. He didn’t like the personal attacks that went along with politics that became increasingly common.”

hillary clinton john mccain photo
Getty Images | Mark Wilson

Honor Guards Carry Casket Into National Cathedral

John McCain lived his life in service to his country. His flag-draped casket was carried by Honor Guards into the National Cathedral. Many members of the military and veterans were among the thousands who paid their respects to him during the week of services honoring his life.

honor guards casket john mccain photo
Getty Images | Tasos Katopodis

Midshipmen Salute McCain

McCain’s casket was transported by horse-drawn caisson to the United States Naval Academy Cemetery for his burial service on Sept. 2. He was laid to rest there in a private ceremony. McCain served in the Navy from 1958 to 1981.

naval academy cemetery john mccain photo
Getty Images | U.S. Navy

Lindsey Graham Honors Friend and Colleague

Sen. Lindsey Graham is a long-time close friend of McCain and read a passage from the Bible at the Washington D.C. service on Sept. 1. He later eulogized him on the Senate floor.

“He taught me that honor and imperfection are always in competition,” Graham said in his tribute. “I do not cry for a perfect man. I cry for a man who had honor and always was willing to admit to his imperfection.”

lindsey graham john mccain photo
Getty Images | Drew Angerer

Sons Comfort Their Mother

McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, was escorted by their sons, Jack and Jimmy, to the Arizona State Rotunda, where her late husband’s body lied in state on August 29. Jack is a Naval Academy graduate and returned from overseas deployment for his father’s funeral. Jimmy is a Naval helicopter pilot and instructor.

cindy mccain jack mccain photo
Getty Images | Ralph Freso

Bridget McCain Reads Scripture Passage

McCain’s youngest daughter, Bridget, read from chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes of the Bible at the service at North Central Baptist Church on Aug. 30. The McCains adopted Bridget from an orphanage in Bangladesh.

bridget mccain photo
Getty Images | Pool

Tommy Espinoza Eulogizes His Friend

John McCain’s son, Andrew, also read from the Bible at the service. He read from Chapter 4 in 2 Timothy. Tommy Espinoza, president and CEO of the Raza Development Fund, eulogized McCain and incorporated the same verse.

tommy espinoza john mccain photo
Getty Images | Pool

Charlie Rose Exits Service

Journalist Charlie Rose attended the funeral service for McCain at The Washington National Cathedral on Sept. 1. McCain was a frequent guest on Rose’s former eponymous news talk show on PBS over the years.

john mccain funeral photo
Getty Images | Drew Angerer

Girl Scout Remembers McCain

A Girl Scout held a photo of the late McCain as his body lied in state at the Arizona State Capitol Museum rotunda on Aug. 29. The girl was one of thousands of civilians who came to honor the senator.

john mccain burial photo
Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

Sidney McCain Mourns Her Father

John McCain’s daughter, Sidney (left), read from the Bible at his funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral. Here, her brother James can be seen walking his mother, Cindy, out of the cathedral following the service.

john mccain funeral photo
Getty Images | Drew Angerer

Military Flyover

McCain was honored with a “missing man” flyover at his private burial service at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. McCain was buried here next to his longtime friend Chuck Larson, who died in 2014.

john mccain burial photo
Getty Images | U.S. Navy