Remarks by Vice President Pence at Ceremony Preceding the Lying in State
of the Honorable Senator John McCain
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
For Immediate Release August 31, 2018
REMARKS BY VICE PRESIDENT PENCE
AT CEREMONY PRECEDING THE LYING IN STATE
OF THE HONORABLE SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN
United States Capitol Rotunda
11:09 A.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: 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
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. And it’s my great honor to be here.
In the long history of our nation, only 30 Americans have lain in state 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
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.”
And 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
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’ve got a few more meetings
tonight” — (laughter) — “but why don’t you turn in. You look like you
could use some rest.” (Laughter.) Thanks, John.
Honestly, seeing him downrange, 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 serve 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, and 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 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;*
*O how our hearts beat high with joy,*
*Whene’er we hear that, glorious word.”*
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 who 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.
END 11:17 A.M. EDT