Hundreds stood in long lines to pay their respects to who they saw as a “true American hero” outside the Capitol Friday afternoon. Veterans and families with small children were among the diverse crowd who stood for hours in the sweltering heat waiting to pay their respects to decorated war hero, John McCain.
Once inside the Rotunda, small groups gathered around his flag-draped casket to say their final goodbyes. Flowers, sealed envelopes and other offerings were not allowed; but Everett Wills, a retired Gunnery Sergeant, brought something small yet special that built a common thread between both military veterans.
“I have a Montford Point Marine 75th anniversary coin. The Montford Point Marines are the first African Americans to join the Marine Corps between 1942 and 1949. The Marine Corp was the last branch to integrate and it was forced to integrate by Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” said Willis
The public deemed the six-time Arizona senator a hero who–like former president Barack Obama said had the “courage to put the greater good above our own.” D.C. resident Antoinette Robinson had similar sentiments as she waited in line with her family.
“I love John McCain because he is an American hero. When he was given the chance to be released as a POW, he chose not to. He made sure that all the men were released before him. He was a true true service person and served this country for over 60 years of his life. He should be honored and rewarded for that,” said Robinson.
George Nejmeh, a D.C. resident whose grandparents fled from Syria, praised McCain for his character which spoke to his integrity and strong moral principles.
“He was a man of all people. He had no prejudices. He loved everybody and that’s what we need in the world today. Tell me where you can find a lot of people like that? What people are willing to do that today? Not many. Not many. We need men like him.”
Mourners admired McCain for his bravery, patriotism and dedication to Americans.
Public and private memorial services celebrating the life and legacy of John McCain took place across the nation where he lied in state in both Washington D.C. and Phoenix ending with his burial at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland on Sunday.
He died last Saturday of brain cancer at age 81.