Who better to salute John McCain than his best friend? Joe Biden, the former vice president and McCain’s colleague in the Senate for six terms, eulogized McCain during his memorial service at North Phoenix Baptist Church in Arizona on August 30, beautifully summing up the life and legacy of the late senator. Speaking from the heart and holding back tears, Biden paid tribute to his best friend, who passed away on August 25 after suffering through brain cancer for a year. Biden also served as one of McCain’s pallbearers, carrying his casket into the North Phoenix Baptist Church.
“My name is Joe Biden. I’m a Democrat. And I loved John McCain,” Biden started his eulogy as he wiped away tears. “The way I look at it, they way I thought about it — I always thought of John as a brother. We had a lot of family fights. I was a young US senator, I was elected when I was 29…the next youngest person was 14 years older.” That senator was John McCain, and the two instantly grew close. They traveled the world together, “and we would sit on that plane, and while everyone else was asleep, just talk. We’d talk about promise, the promise of America. Because we were both cockeyed optimists.”
“This great friendship transcended any great political differences we had,” he continued. “Above all we understood the same thing: politics is personal, it’s all about trust. I trusted John with my life, and I think he’d trust me with his.” He spoke about the great loss he’s experienced in his life — the death of his first wife and daughter in a car accident, and the recent death of his son, Beau. “After times when life can be so cruel, pain so blinding. It’s hard to see anything. The disease that took John’s life took our friend Teddy [Kennedy‘s] life. And a few years ago it took my beautiful Son Beau’s life. It’s brutal, it’s relentless… we have to remember how they lived, not how they died,” he said.
“I know how difficult it is to bury a child, Mrs. McCain,” he continued, addressing John’s 106-year-old mother, Roberta McCain. He said to John’s family, including wife Cindy McCain and his seven children, “There’s nothing anyone can say or do to ease the pain right now, but I pray that this gives you comfort: that you shared John with us your whole life, the world now aches for John’s death. Character is destiny. John had character. While others will miss his passion and stubborness, you’re going to miss that your hand on your shoulder. And for that, there’s no balm but time. Time in your memories of a life lived well, lived fully. I promise you that a time will come…a smile will come to you before a tear to your eye. I promise you, I know that day will come.”
"My name is Joe Biden. I'm a Democrat. And I love John McCain."
LIVE: Former VP Biden speaks at memorial service for John McCain. https://t.co/DpcHSUJ0Ee
— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 30, 2018
Biden and McCain have been friends for decades, despite their disagreements over politics and allegiances to different parties. Their friendship continued even when Biden became the running mate, and eventual vice president to, McCain’s rival in the 2008 presidential race, Barack Obama. It’s clear from Biden’s speech just how truly important McCain was to him and his life. At the Phoenix memorial service, McCain’s children, son Andrew, 56, and daughter Bridget, 27, read passages from scripture. Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr., who befriended McCain after retiring from the NFL, is also slated to speak at the memorial.
Our thoughts are with Vice President Biden, the McCain family, and the rest of Senator McCain’s loved ones during this difficult time. May he rest in peace.