The nation honors Sen. John McCain

By Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha and Brian Ries, CNN

Updated 11:50 a.m. ET, September 4, 2018
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11:32 a.m. ET, September 1, 2018

Lieberman says McCain floated idea of asking him to be his running mate in 2008

Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Democrat-turned-Independent, said that in 2008 John McCain "had a far out idea of asking a Democrat to be his running mate"///:/// him.

Lieberman said: "When he first talked to me about it, I said, 'You know, John, I'm really honored, but I don't see how you can do it. Even though I won my last election as an independent, I'm still a registered Democrat.'" McCain's was "direct and really ennobling," Lieberman said.

"That's the point, Joe," McCain told him. "You're a Democrat, I'm a Republican. We could give our country the bipartisan leadership it needs for a change."

Ultimately, McCain chose Sarah Palin, and the rest is history.

The prospect of a Lieberman VP pick raised concerns among conservatives, CNN reported at the time.

Lieberman, an independent senator who was the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee, had been a vocal supporter of the war in Iraq, but he backed abortion rights.

Conservative activists feared at the time that if McCain picked him, it could drive away social conservatives who were already uneasy about his nomination.

11:14 a.m. ET, September 1, 2018

Joe Lieberman: McCain's death has reminded us of the values that make us a great nation

Sen. Joe Lieberman, John McCain's longtime friend who was nearly a former running mate, said speaking today was one of the greatest honors of his life.

He spoke of hearing McCain tell people that there was a "special satisfaction that comes from serving a cause greater than yourself," and that it was a creed he lived by.

"The greater cause to which he devoted his life was America, not so much the country defined by its borders, but the America of our founding values, freedom, human rights, opportunity, democracy, and equal justice under law," Lieberman said.

"In John's life, he nobly served and advanced these American values, and remarkably his death seems to have reminded the American people that these values are what make us a great nation," he added. "Not the tribal partisanship, personal attack politics that have recently characterized our life."

The week of memorials celebrating McCain's life, Lieberman said, has lifted the country "above all that."

10:43 a.m. ET, September 1, 2018

Meghan McCain: "The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great"

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:

10:39 a.m. ET, September 1, 2018

Meghan McCain: Today we mourn the passing of American greatness — "the real thing"

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."


10:21 a.m. ET, September 1, 2018

Meghan McCain begins a tearful tribute for her father: "My father is gone"

"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."

10:18 a.m. ET, September 1, 2018

The procession has begun. The family has walked in. And the service is about to begin.

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
10:06 a.m. ET, September 1, 2018

Former presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton are in the front pew

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.

9:50 a.m. ET, September 1, 2018

McCain and his family have arrived at National Cathedral

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.

9:32 a.m. ET, September 1, 2018

Here's a list of who's attending today's service

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