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AT THIS HOUR

Memorial Service for Senator John McCain in Washington, D.C. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired August 31, 2018 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:00:00] SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: He had America's fighting spirit, our noble idealism, our solemn patriotism, and our slightly irreverent streak all rolled into one. I will miss a dear friend whose smile reminded us that service is a privilege and whose scars reminded us of the great cost that brave souls pay for our freedom.

John felt like family. But, of course, it is Cindy and Roberta and Joe and Doug, Andy, Sidney, Meghan, Jack, Jimmy and Bridgette who could truly call this man their own.

On behalf of the Senate and the entire nation, thank you. Thank you for lending him to us longer than we had a right. Thank you for supporting him while he supported us.

Half a world away wearing our nation's uniform, John McCain stood up for every value that this capitol building represents. Then he brought that same patriotism inside its walls to advocate for our servicemembers, our veterans and our moral leadership in the world. It's only right that today near the end of his long journey, John lies here in this great hall under this mighty dome like other American heroes before him. Here, as a restless wave approaches the shores of eternality, we thank God for giving this country John McCain.

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: On behalf of a grateful nation and on behalf of Congress, I want to begin by giving thanks to the McCain family for your many years of service to our country.

We share your anguish in losing this great man. Rarely does this glorious rotunda fall silent at this hour. On a day like this, John would usually be bounding this way or that way right through here, visitors turning it each other asking if that is who they think it is. But in this quiet hour, we are left to ponder how his life speaks to us. John McCain deserves to be remembered as he wished to be remembered. A patriot who served his country, a man, yes, of the Senate, but also a man of the House. A Navy man, a family man, a man who made an enormous difference in the lives of countless people. A man of conviction. A man of state.

There's a line from his farewell statement that really just grabbed me: "Our identity and sense of worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by serving big causes bigger than ourselves." That's John McCain. How fitting and how true.

What stands out about John McCain is what he stood for, the rich blessings that only freedom can bestow. The sense of purpose that a battle joined can bring. The common humanity that burns in each of our hearts.

Hemingway once wrote, "The world breaks everyone and, afterward, many are strong at the broken places." No one, no one was stronger at the broken places than John McCain. The brokenness was his ballast. He never lost the joy that time can dull or the edge that political life so often sands away. I, myself, from time to time, found myself on the receiving end of John's distinct brand of candor. Happily so. I remember thinking more than once, yes, he really does talk like a sailor.

(LAUGHTER)

[11:05:19] But you see, with John, it was never feigned disagreement. The man didn't feign anything. He just relished the fight. He showed us that, in the arena, the honest back and forth, that's where the cause gets bigger. That's where the triumph is all the sweeter. We get stronger at the broken places. Though the highest office alluded him, he attained what is far more enduring, the abiding affection of his fellow citizens, and an example for future generations.

So I think ahead now. I think ahead to the day when I, like so many, will bring my own children and perhaps their children to that hallowed lawn in Annapolis. I think about that. I think about what I might say to them. This is one of the bravest souls our nation has ever produced. However you choose to do your part, I hope you do it the way he did,

with energy and urgency, playing for keeps, never back on your heels, never letting principle yield to expedience, resisting the false allure of being fleeting and battening down the hatches when things get rough. And always, always having a really good story to tell.

Today, our nation bows in grief. But here, under the work of Remedi (ph), and in the gaze of the greats, where soldiers known and unknown have laid before, we have this beautiful thing, the chance to do for this man what he did for us, to stand up, to stand up and to embrace the cause of his life. No one of us can fulfill this charge. But all of us sure can try. Because all of this, all of this, it's worth fighting for.

God bless John McCain. And God bless the country he so dearly loved.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Leader McConnell, Speaker Ryan, Leader Schumer, Leader Pelosi, distinguished members of Congress, members of the cabinet, members of our armed forces, and honored guests, and most of all, to the McCain family, to Cindy, his children, and Mrs. Roberta McCain, it is deeply humbling to stand before you today at the United States capitol to commemorate the life and service of an American patriot, Senator John McCain. The president asked me to be here, on behalf of a grateful nation, to pay a debt of honor and respect to a man who served our country throughout his life, in uniform and in public office. It's my great honor to be here.

[11:10:00] In the long history of our nation, only 30 Americans have laid in state here in the United States capitol rotunda. Today, as a reflection of the esteem in which his colleagues and our country hold him, Senator John McCain joins those ranks.

The son and the grandson of four-star admirals, John came from a family that prized military service. He entered the United States Naval Academy when he was just 17 years old. His service as a naval aviator took him around the world and eventually to the war in Vietnam. It was there on his 23rd bombing run that John was shot down and captured. Refusing early release for the sake of his comrades, he endured five and a half years of confinement and torture. Then, as now, Americans marveled at the iron will of John McCain. But captivity did not diminish John's sense of calling or his commitment to mission. As he would later say, "I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's."

After he made it home, John traded service in the uniform of the United States for service in Congress. Exchanging the rank of captain for congressman and later Senator. For 35 years, John served in these very halls under this very dome. And he fought for what he believed in.

In my years in Congress and as vice president, we didn't always agree either. And he almost always noticed. But his support for limited government, for tax reform, and support for our armed forces surely left our nation more prosperous and more secure. And he will be missed.

As President Trump said yesterday, we respect his service to the country.

Like many of you gathered here, I also had the privilege of traveling with Senator McCain to visit our troops overseas. Earlier this week, I told Cindy of a time on a trip through Iraq. After another 18-hour day, when I was literally falling asleep in the middle of a dinner with Iraqi officials, after the dinner, John, who was more than 20 years older than me, walked up, put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Mike, we have a few more meetings tonight. But why don't you turn in? You look like you could use some rest." Thanks, John.

Honestly, seeing him down range, I never traveled with a colleague who was better to our enlisted or harder on our generals. John McCain loved the men and women who served in the uniform of the United States. And he was a champion of our armed forces throughout his career.

In every generation, there are those who put country first, who prize service ahead of self, who summon idealism from a cynical age. John McCain was such a man.

Today, he lies in the place where he served to the last, the Congress of the United States. Soon he will go to rest on the grounds where he served first, the United States Naval Academy. The eyes of the American people will be upon him as he goes. So, too, will their prayers for him and especially for his beloved family gathered here today. And we will pray that those who mourn shall be comforted. So we mourn with those who mourn and we grieve with those who grieve.

But we do not grieve like those who have no hope. Because John McCain, like millions of Americans, held firm to that hope from an old hymn that became the title of a book he wrote some 20 years ago, "Faith of Our Fathers." The full stanza of that hymn reads, "Faith of our fathers living still, in spite of dungeon, fire and sword. Oh, how our hearts beat high with joy when e'er we hear that glorious word."

[11:15:43] John McCain held firm to that faith, the faith of his fathers through dungeons, fire and sword. And he held fast to his faith in America through six decades of service.

We gather here today to honor an American patriot, served a cause greater than himself. And we gather here remembering a man who knew how he wanted to be remembered.

And so let me say to all those gathered and his beloved family, on behalf of a grateful nation, we will ever remember that John McCain served his country and John McCain served his country honorably.

May God bless the memory of John McCain. May God comfort his family and friends. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.

[11:21:01] BARRY BLACK, SENATE CHAPLAIN & RETIRED NAVY REAR ADMIRAL: Let us bow our heads for the benediction.

Eternal Lord God, who has made of one blood all the people of the earth, we give thanks for the consequential life of Senator John McCain, a drum major for courage, truth and justice. Accept our gratitude for his commitment to make decisions based upon principles, for his pragmatic leadership during turbulent times, and for his life of exemplary and heroic service. Lord, we are grateful for his efforts to do what was in the country's best interest and for providing inspiration that kept our nation strong. We praise you for permitting Senator McCain to remind us that we are tied to a single garment of destiny, needing one another to fulfill your purposes for our lives. May the life of this American patriot inspire us to see you more clearly, to love you more dearly, and to follow you more nearly each day. Now unto him who is able to keep us without stumbling or slipping and to present us before the presence of his glory with unspeakable delight, we ascribe glory, majesty and might, dominion and power, now and always.

[11:23:24] We pray in the name of Senator McCain's redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.

[11:29:30] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Truly, beautiful memorial service, a ceremony in the rotunda of the U.S. capitol. And now invited guests will have an opportunity to pay their personal respects as they walk up to the casket draped in an American flag. Later, the American public will be allowed to stand in line and on and pay their respects as well.

Dana, I was moved by so much of this, but especially seeing John McCain's 106-year-old mother, Roberta, there. You could see how moved she was. Sitting right next to her, granddaughter, Meghan, only 33 years old. The two shared this enormous bond, this love of John m McCain.

[11:30:13] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It was so human.