Meghan McCain owes her strength to her father, John McCain. And it was on display on Saturday, at the six-term senator’s Washington, D.C. funeral.
The 33-year-old View co-host took the pulpit at the Washington National Cathedral, where she gave an emotional and pointed eulogy — remembering Sen. McCain not just for the impact he had on the country, but also the impact he had on his family.
Among her comments was one pointed at President Donald Trump, who was reportedly asked by the McCain family not to attend the funeral services prior to the Arizona senator’s death (though his daughter, Ivanka, and her husband Jared Kushner were there).
“The America of John McCain is generous and welcoming and bold,” Meghan said. “She is resourceful and confident and secure. She meets her responsibilities, She speaks quietly because she is strong. America does not boast because she has no need to. The America of John McCain has no need to be great again because America was always great.”
There was also a reference to Trump’s previous criticism of McCain.
“We live in an era where we knock down old American heroes for all their imperfections. When no leader wants to admit to fault or failure,” Meghan said, then talking to her father. “You were an exception, and you gave us an ideal to strive for. Look, I know you can see this gathering here in this cathedral. The nation is here to remember you.”
But mostly, Meghan stayed out of politics. Instead, she focused on the personal relationship she had with her father — making it clear her father was not defined by his time as a prisoner of war, nor for his work in the senate or his work in the Republican party.
“John McCain was defined by love,” he said. “I know who he was. I know what defined him. I got to see it every single day of my blessed life.”
Breaking into tears, she recalled memories of her father carrying her to bed and caring for her skinned knee. “The best of John McCain, the greatest of his titles and the most important of his roles, was as a father,” she said.
One memory in particular was truly impactful for Meghan. It occurred after she fell off a horse as a teenager and broke her collar bone. After a visit to the hospital, her father insisted she get back on that horse, telling her, “Nothing is going to break you.”
“For the rest of my life, whenever I fall, I get back up,” she said. “That is not because I am uniquely virtuous or that I am strong or resilient. It’s because my father, John McCain, was.”
Those words came back to Meghan when asked her father what he wanted from his eulogy. She recalled him telling her, “Show them how tough you are.”
She ended her eulogy on a particularly touching note.
“I am feeling loss I have never wanted to feel. My father is gone,” she 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.”
Meghan continued: “My father is gone. My father is gone and my sorrow is immense but I know his life and I know it was great because it was good.”
Sen. McCain died Aug. 25 at the age of 81 after a battle with glioblastoma.
Saturday’s funeral marks the end of a five-day, cross-country funeral procession that culminated in memorial services at the U.S. Capitol on Friday morning. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama are also expected to give eulogies Saturday, at Sen. McCain’s request. Also in attendance are U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman.
The late senator and war hero will be buried in the cemetery at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, after a private memorial service.