Late US senator John McCain will receive his final public sendoff on Saturday in a nationally televised ceremony featuring eulogies from two ex-presidents.
Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama will deliver remarks honoring their friend and former White House challenger, at a memorial service in Washington’s National Cathedral that McCain planned himself in recent months as he battled brain cancer.
That the men who vanquished McCain in their presidential battles were asked to speak is testament to the former war prisoner’s commitment to looking beyond party and signalling that Americans, regardless of political affiliation, are rowing together in the same boat.
Amid today’s inflammatory political environment the message could serve as a soothing balm for a nation bruised by two years of divisive discourse.
And the absence of Trump, whose bitter feud with McCain has wrangled US politics during that time, will serve as a final rebuke of the president, highlighting the clash between a Republican elder statesman and the current president from his own party.
McCain’s last public event, before he is laid to rest Sunday in a private ceremony at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, comes a day after he was accorded the rare recognition of lying in state in the US Capitol.