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Obama, Bush pay tribute to John McCain at cathedral service

Saul Loeb, AFP | A military honor guard carries the casket of US Senator John McCain into the Washington National Cathedral on September 1, 2018

Former US presidents, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, led mourners on Saturday in a service for the late senator John McCain at Washington’s National Cathedral.

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The final public ceremony honouring McCain began Saturday at the National Cathedral following a solemn procession past the Vietnam War Memorial in a tribute to the Vietnam War hero who went on to become one of the most respected lawmakers in the US Congress.

It marked the last public event before the former Arizona senator will be laid to rest at a private family funeral Sunday at his alma mater, the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

Watch FRANCE 24's special coverage of McCain memorial service

A number of world leaders and former heads of state attended the ceremony, including Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. One of the pallbearers selected by McCain before his death was Vladimir Kara-Murza, a sharp critic of the Kremlin.

McCain died of brain cancer on August 25 aged 81.

While McCain asked Obama and Bush, a Democrat and a Republican, to deliver eulogies at his service, in a final symbol of his goal for bipartisanship, US President Donald Trump was conspicuously absent.

The Guardian's Sabrina Siddiqui reports from Washington

McCain's family had made clear that Trump was not welcome at memorial services in Arizona and Washington or at Sunday's private burial service.

In an emotional eulogy that appeared to reference the rancour and partisan bickering in Washington DC today, the late senator’s daughter, Meghan McCain, mourned the passing of what she called “American greatness”.

A look back at McCain's career

Fighting back tears, McCain’s daughter listed her father’s many accomplishments on and off the battlefield before noting, “These are all the titles and the roles of a life that has been well-lived, but they are not the greatest of his titles, nor the most important of his roles. He was a great man. We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness, the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who live lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served. He was a great fire who burned bright.”

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

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