Sen. John McCain‘s children and members of the public mourned his death, together, at the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix on Wednesday evening.
After attending a private ceremony for family and friends in the afternoon, three of McCain’s seven children — Sidney, Jack and Jimmy — returned to the rotunda to hug and share stories with those waiting in line at the public viewing. According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, some 12,000-15,000 waited in line to say goodbye in the sweltering heat, CBS News reported.
Emotional footage from a local NBC station showed mourners thanking the children for their father’s service and Sidney, 51, telling one woman waiting in line, “It’s so incredible that all of you are here.” Another man could be heard telling Sidney, “It’s the least that we can do for a great man like that.”
Meanwhile Jack, 32, made the rounds offering hugs and handshakes, including one to a little boy holding an American flag.
The family and friends of John McCain paid their respects to the late six-term senator and decorated veteran earlier Wednesday, during a private memorial service at the state capitol.
Meghan McCain, the senator’s daughter, and Cindy McCain, his wife of 38 years, were both at the service and wept over his casket. At one point, Cindy tenderly placed her cheek against the flag draped over her husband’s coffin.
Just one day later, McCain died at the age of 81.
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McCain will lie in state at the state capitol through Thursday. There will then be a public procession to carry his casket to the North Phoenix Baptist Church for a 10 a.m. local time service. Senator McCain’s family and friends, along with state, local and tribal officials, and business and civic leaders from across Arizona were invited to attend.
There will then be a public viewing in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda Friday afternoon before the casket is transported to Maryland for a private service at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis on Sunday.
Following her father’s death, Meghan, 33, shared a touching tribute on social media.
“In the thirty-three years we shared together, he raised me, taught me, corrected me, comforted me, encouraged me, and supported me in all things,” she wrote. “He taught me how to live. His love and his care, ever present, always unfailing, took me from a girl to a woman — and he showed me what it is to be a man.”
“All that I am is thanks to him,” she continued in her tribute. “Now that he is gone, the task of my lifetime is to live up to his example, his expectations, and his love. My father’s passing comes with sorrow and grief for me, for my mother, for my brothers, and for my sisters. He was a great fire who burned bright, and we lived in his light and warmth for so very long. We know that his flame lives on, in each of us. The days and years to come will not be the same without my dad — but they will be good days, filled with life and love, because of the example he lived for us.”
Cindy also mourned the loss on social media. “My heart is broken,” tweeted Cindy, 64, minutes after her family announced the late senator’s death.
“I am so lucky to have lived the adventure of loving this incredible man for 38 years,” she continued. “He passed the way he lived, on his own terms, surrounded by the people he loved, in the place he loved best.”