John McCain, a war hero and towering figure in US politics, known for reaching across the aisle in an increasingly divided nation, died Saturday following a battle with brain cancer.
He was 81.
The senator’s passing marked the end of a 35-year political career that brought the independent-minded Republican within reach of the White House as his party’s presidential nominee.
“It’s been quite a ride,” McCain, who was tortured during five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, wrote in a memoir published earlier this year.
“I’ve known great passions, seen amazing wonders, fought in a war and helped make peace. I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times.” McCain, who was being treated at his home in Arizona, was surrounded by his wife Cindy and his family during his final hours.
“He was a great fire who burned bright, and we lived in his light and warmth,” said Meghan McCain, one of the late senator’s seven children — three of them from a previous marriage. In Washington, flags on Capitol Hill and the White House were lowered to half mast in his honor. Near the driveway to his ranch in Sedona, Arizona, a sign read “Sen McCain, thank you for your service.”
A police escort accompanied the hearse that carried his body, as a fiery sunset cast its last light over the countryside McCain loved so dearly. Local residents brought flowers to honor the late politician.
Friends and colleagues traveled to Arizona to bid McCain farewell in the months since his cancer diagnosis in July 2017. US President Donald Trump, who once mocked McCain’s war record, said he sent his “deepest sympathies and respect.”
A rare Republican critic of Trump, McCain accused the president of “naivete,” “egotism” and of sympathizing with autocrats. He cast a decisive vote last year that killed Republican attempts to repeal Barack Obama’s health care reforms, something Trump never forgave.