The flag atop the U.S. Capitol building is flying at half-mast today, in honor of Senator John McCain, of Arizona. McCain passed away on Saturday, August 25, after a yearlong battle with brain cancer. He was 81.
Leaders from both political parties joined in honoring the senator’s legacy. President Donald Trump offered his “deepest sympathies and respect” to the McCain family.
McCain was the son and grandson of U.S. Navy admirals. He followed in their footsteps, becoming a Navy pilot. In 1967, during the Vietnam War, McCain’s plane was shot down over the city of Hanoi. He was captured and held as a prisoner of war. He was offered an early release, but he refused unless the American soldiers captured before him were also released. He was held prisoner for almost five years.
After his release in 1973, McCain pursued political office. Arizona voters elected him to the House of Representatives in 1982, and then to the Senate in 1986. As senator, he was a champion for issues concerning national security and veterans. He served in Congress for 35 years.
McCain vied for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination but was defeated by George W. Bush. Eight years later, he won the party’s presidential nomination but lost the election to the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama.
In 2015, McCain became chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. When asked how he wanted to be remembered, McCain said: “That I made a major contribution to the defense of the nation.”
McCain will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, D.C., on Friday, and a funeral will take place September 1. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama are expected to speak. McCain will be buried in the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery, in Annapolis, Maryland.