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Patriotism, policy and personality: McCain honored in Capitol memorial service

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -

Whether it was because of his patriotism, his policies, or just the man himself, an estimated thousands of supporters and well-wishers, paying tribute to late Arizona Senator John McCain. Dozens set up in line hours before the doors to the U.S. Capitol Rotunda opened Friday afternoon.

 “He’s a true American hero,” said Kris Wiebold, of West Virginia.

 “We need to work together, and I believe that Sen. McCain did exactly that,” said Verna Miller, of Maryland, who appreciated McCain’s push for bipartisanship in Washington.

Wiebold was the first person in line during of public visitors, paying respect to McCain’s service with the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, and his time as a prisoner of war.

 “I remember as a teen watching him get off the plane,” Wiebold said of McCain’s return to the United States after his release from the POW camp. “John McCain has been a figure in my life as long as I can remember.”

Not far behind Wiebold was Christina Ladd, who worked on McCain’s 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns. Her daughter, Liberty, was just seven-years-old when McCain clinched

Like Liberty, now 16, her mother shares with fond memories of the man they knew as “the maverick.”

 “He would take the time to learn your story, to take the time to remember your name, your first name, and I think people were surprised by that,” Christina said.

 “I respect the way that he stood his ground on issues that he believed that were in the best interest to the American people,” Liberty said.

Inside the Capitol Friday, McCain became just the 31stAmerican and only the 13thU.S. Senator to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda, a place that bridges the U.S. House and U.S. Senate chambers. It’s what many see as a fitting for a man who bridged the most polarized politicians while on the Senate floor.

To honor his push for bipartisanship during the Capitol memorial service, a bipartisan wreath laying ceremony by Republican and Democratic senators.

One of McCain’s closest friends, former Pennsylvania governor and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, who will be one of fifteen pallbearers at Sunday’s funeral. McCain and Ridge were so close both personally and politically, Ridge was believed to be on McCain’s short list for vice president in 2008.

 “I can look back on those 30-plus years of public service and be grateful to have built a great friendship with an extraordinary man,” Ridge said.

McCain’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday at the Washington National Cathedral where he will be eulogized by two of his former political adversaries, former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He will be laid to rest Sunday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

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