While the president of the United States may not have been physically present at Sen. John McCain’s funeral this past Saturday at Washington National Cathedral, he loomed large.
He also played a role in the respectful transportation of the late senator’s body, one that has gotten very little attention from most of the media — and that’s sad.
President Donald Trump approved the use of the aircraft typically reserved for the vice president of the United States to fly Sen. John McCain’s body to the nation’s capital.
“The late Arizona senator’s casket was loaded onto one of the jets known as Air Force Two — which is often designated for the VP or [the] first lady’s travel,” as TMZ reported.
The plane, of course, is referred to as Air Force Two when the vice president is aboard. It is this aircraft that was used as well to send McCain’s family home after services earlier last week in Phoenix, Arizona.
The plane is the military version of the Boeing 757; some of the details were shared in The Daily Wire this weekend.
As President Trump said in a statement posted earlier last week: “At the request of the McCain family, I have also authorized military transportation of Sen. McCain’s remains from Arizona to Washington, D.C., military pallbearers and band support, and a horse and caisson transport during the service at the United States Naval Academy.”
Trump’s respect toward the Arizona senator and this extraordinary action seems to many to be in contrast to his previous statements about the longtime lawmaker. The two men, of course, were often at odds.
“He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured,” Trump famously declared in the summer of 2015 about McCain’s military service.
Meghan McCain, one of the seven children the senator left behind, took shots at President Trump during the very moving eulogy she delivered on Saturday at Washington National Cathedral — even though the president gave orders to show the McCain family extraordinary respect.
Readers and posters on social media have already noted Trump’s acts of kindness — which again have gotten almost no attention: “Trump authorized Air Force Two to transport McCain’s body to the Capitol with respect and honor and Mike Pence’s tribute speech was classy and dignified. Meanwhile, the week-long political funeral thrown by the D.C. Establishment for one of their own dissolved into an attack on Trump because he is president. Sad,” wrote one person.
Another person wrote: “Don’t forget this: Trump gives McCain family permission to use Air Force Two. Then they bash him. Even though President Trump was banned from attending Sen. John McCain’s funeral, the president did the right thing and honored a request from the grieving McCain family.”
Meghan McCain declared that “the America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great.”
Nevertheless, at the funeral, Meghan McCain declared that “the America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great.”
She is still facing outrage from conservatives and others for that comment and others she made.
She also said at one point in her eulogy, “John Sidney McCain III was many things. He was a sailor, he was an aviator, he was a husband, he was a warrior, he was a prisoner, he was a hero, he was a congressman, he was a senator, he was nominee for president of the United States. These are all of the titles and roles of a life that’s been well-lived. They’re not the greatest of his titles nor the most important of his roles. He was a great man,” she said.
She added, “We gather to mourn the passing of American greatness, the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice, those that live lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served.”
Trump supporters and others have been speaking out in defense of the president’s response to McCain’s death.
Conservative commentator and activist Candace Owens, among many others, tweeted out her support for the president, saying, “This new trend of using funerals and eulogies to deliver political messages is really quite disgusting.”
She also retweeted Trump’s tweet of “Make American Great Again!” over the weekend.
MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 1, 2018
But Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, another Arizonan and a former McCain colleague, had a different message to share on September 1.
He actually tweeted out a picture of former Presidents Bush and Obama from the funeral on Saturday with the caption: “Decency Wins.”
Decency Wins pic.twitter.com/7DkX1vNG4i
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) September 1, 2018
And then on September 2, Sen. Flake tweeted this:
I watched them lay my friend to rest today. I will miss him. pic.twitter.com/sclX9j3ya8
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) September 2, 2018
The body of Sen. John McCain was buried on Sunday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
“A horse-drawn caisson carrying the senator’s casket led a procession of mourners from the academy’s chapel to its cemetery following a private service,” the Chicago Tribune noted.