The late senator’s wife, 64, appeared emotional and wept throughout opera singer Renée Fleming’s performance of “Danny Boy,” which occurred towards the end of the Washington, D.C. service on Saturday.
At one point, she even leaned her head against son Jack McCain’s shoulder.
Sen. McCain and Cindy were married for 38 years.
The deeply poignant song references a dying father addressing his son who has gone to war. In the song, the father knows that his son will return to find his father dead and buried. The father also remarks about how, even in death, he will hear his son treading atop the grave.
“If you’ll not fail to tell me that you love me / I’ll simply sleep in peace until you come to me,” reads one of the song’s most poignant lyrics.
While planning his funeral in July, months before he died of brain cancer last week, John specifically asked that the beloved Irish ballad be sung during services, a longtime family friend and associate previously told PEOPLE.
“It was absolutely one of his favorite songs,” said Carla Eudy, a fundraiser who has worked with and been friends with the McCain family for decades and also served as a pallbearer at his national memorial service. “He wanted it sung at his funeral.”
“I can hardly talk about it let alone listen to it,” she added.
“I saw him last July, and we have been working on what the services would be,” she continued. “He wanted to make sure that the final time that was going to honor his passing would have only things he wanted.”
Those things included another song, “Faith of Our Fathers,” which is also the title of the memoir McCain wrote with coauthor Mark Salter.
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While delivering an emotional eulogy for her father, Meghan remembered the impact Sen. McCain had on his family.
“I am feeling loss I have never wanted to feel. My father is gone,” the 33-year-old View co-host said. “This love my father had for my mother was the most fierce and lasting of them all. …. He was endlessly present for us. And though we did not always understand it, he was always teaching. He didn’t expect us to be like him. His ambitions for us was to be better than him. As a girl I did not fully appreciate what I fully appreciate now: how he suffered, and how he wore it with this stoic silence that was once the mark of an American man.”
“Dad, I love you. I always have,” she said. “All that I am, all that I hope, all that I dream is grounded in what you taught me. You loved me and you showed me what love must be. Your greatness is woven into my life. It is woven into my mother’s life. It is woven into my sister’s life. It is woven into my brother’s lives. It is woven into the life and liberty of the country you sacrificed so much to defend.”