Before his death Saturday, Sen. John McCain had a special request for two familiar faces to give eulogies at his funeral: former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.
The Arizona Republican, who died at 81 after a battle with brain cancer, wanted the two to speak when he is laid to rest after becoming the 13th former senator to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda, the New York Times reports. His funeral will take place after at the Washington National Cathedral.
Obama, against whom McCain ran for president in 2008, issued a statement Saturday remembering the maverick senator as a courageous man who always kept his country’s best interests at heart.
“Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did,” Obama wrote. “But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own. At John’s best, he showed us what that means. And for that, we are all in his debt.”
Bush, meanwhile, who beat out McCain to win the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, also shared a statement praising the late Navy veteran as “a patriot of the highest order.”
“Some lives are so vivid, it is difficult to imagine them ended. Some voices are so vibrant, it is hard to think of them stilled,” Bush wrote. “John McCain was a man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order. He was a public servant in the finest traditions of our country. And to me, he was a friend whom I’ll deeply miss.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden, a longtime friend who once referred to McCain as his brother “somehow raised by different fathers,” will speak at a separate service in Arizona, CBS News reports.
“John McCain’s life is proof that some truths are timeless. Character. Courage. Integrity. Honor,” Biden wrote in a statement. “A life lived embodying those truths casts a long, long shadow. John McCain will cast a long shadow. His impact on America hasn’t ended. Not even close.”
The Times also reports that Vice President Mike Pence is expected to attend the funeral, but not President Trump, who infamously once declared that McCain was not a war hero because he was captured.
McCain’s body was escorted to a Phoenix mortuary Saturday from his home in Cornville, Ariz. by an SUV motorcade, law enforcement vehicles and a hearse, reports the Arizona Republic.
The group reportedly passed dozens of onlookers during the 100-mile journey, many of whom offered tributes to McCain, including a sign that read, “Sen. McCain thank you for your service” and a chant of “I love you John.”