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McCain to lie in state at Capitol; mourners pay respects

U.S. Sen John McCain will lie in state at both the Arizona and U.S. capitols this week, with services both in Phoenix and Washington, D.C., before being buried at the U.S. Naval Academy on Sunday.

As Arizonans continued to mourn Sunday, Gov. Doug Ducey announced that Sen. John McCain will lie in state at the state Capitol on Wednesday – McCain’s birthday.

Ducey called it a “rare and distinct occurrence for a truly special man” in a tweet posted Sunday.

The six-term Arizona senator died Saturday, little more than a year after doctors diagnosed him with brain cancer. He was 81.

A private, formal ceremony is planned for 10 a.m. Wednesday at the state Capitol rotunda, honoring McCain’s “life and service to the State of Arizona and the nation,” according to johnmccain.com. The public can pay respects from 2-8 p.m. A live stream will be available here.

The practice to “lie in state” is an opportunity for the public to pay their respects, especially when a private funeral is planned. The person’s remains are usually on display in a coffin for viewing.

At the Arizona Capitol, this usually means the person will lie on the mosaic state seal, which is generally roped off, according to Secretary of State Michele Reagan. However, Reagan said in a message that these details for McCain had not been finalized early Sunday afternoon.

In the past four decades, only two people have lain in state in the Arizona Capitol rotunda, officials said: Arizona State Senator Marilyn Jarrett in 2006 and Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens, a Tucson resident, in 1980.

Flags have been ordered to fly at half-staff until McCain is laid to rest Sunday by Gov. Doug Ducey. Governors of other states have also ordered flags at half-staff, including New York and Iowa. The flag atop the White House was flown at half-staff Saturday and Sunday, but returned to full height Monday morning. The U.S. Flag Code specifies that the death of a member of Congress be marked by a half-staff flag on the day of death and the following day, but presidents and governors have frequently ordered flags be lowered for longer periods. President Donald Trump did not issue a proclamation on McCain's death.

McCain's state memorial service is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Thursday at the North Phoenix Baptist Church. Members of the public can apply for a ticket to the funeral service through McCain’s website. Just prior to the service, there will be a motorcade from the Capitol to the church, along West Van Buren Street to North Central Avenue.

McCain's body will be flown to Washington, D.C., on Thursday afternoon, after the service here. He will depart Arizona for the last time from the 161st Air Refueling Wing, a unit of the Arizona Air National Guard, at Goldwater Air National Guard Base, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, and will be flown to Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.

McCain also will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol rotunda. He will be the 13th U.S. senator to receive the honor, which is reserved for the country’s “most eminent citizens,” according to the Architect of the Capitol.

A ceremony in the Capitol will take place at 11 a.m. on Friday, when McCain’s family, congressional colleagues, staff and the public will honor his life and service. Watched over by a Guard of Honor, his casket will be placed in the center of the rotunda, which will be open to the public to pay their respects for the remainder of the day.

On Saturday, a private memorial service will take place at Washington National Cathedral. National and international leaders have been invited to attend, according to McCain’s website. A live stream will be available here.

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama are expected to speak at McCain’s service in Washington, D.C. McCain had requested the two deliver eulogies at his funeral.

Numerous media outlets reported that McCain did not want President Donald Trump to attend his services, instead offering an invitation to Vice President Mike Pence.

He will be buried Sunday in a private ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland.

Mourners have not waited to pay their respects to the senator, placing flowers, candles and flags near his office in Phoenix, the funeral home where his body was taken and the state Capitol after his death was announced Saturday.

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TucsonSentinel.com’s Dylan Smith contributed to this story.


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Anya Magnuson/Cronkite News

POW MIA KIA Honor Guard Commander David Carrasco on Sunday stands outside the A.L. Moore-Grimshaw Mortuaries Bethany Chapel in Phoenix, where Sen. John McCain’s body was moved to Saturday night.