John McCain remembered as loving father, joke-telling friend at national service

Sen. John McCain was recalled as a loving father, joke-telling friend and great statesman in tributes by family, former members of Congress and other prominent American officials at a memorial service at Washington’s National Cathedral.

The late senator’s longtime friend, former Sen. Joe Lieberman, elicited laughs from the audience of dignitaries and family at the service Saturday with anecdotes about McCain’s sense of humor.

“He loved to laugh and he loved to make other people laugh,” Lieberman said. “If he heard a good joke, he’d tell it over and over and over again.”

McCain’s daughter, Meghan, said her father had been more than a war hero, senator and presidential nominee. He was also a devoted father who would carry her to bed as a little girl, kiss her skinned knee, and sometimes take her out of school to attend public town hall events.

“I know who he was, I know what defined him, I got to see it every single day of my blessed life. John McCain was not defined by prison, by the Navy, by the Senate, by the Republican Party or any one of the deeds in his absolutely extraordinary life. He was defined by love,” Meghan McCain said.

She said her father taught her to be strong and resilient and that he told her to “show them how tough you are” in her eulogy.

“John McCain was defined by love.”

Former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush will also be among the speakers honoring the late senator at the service.

McCain’s remains were moved to the National Cathedral for the service on Saturday morning after he lay in state at the Capitol Rotunda. Mccain’s wife, mother, children, and grandchildren attended the ceremony Saturday. Other notable attendees included President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, and congressional leaders were all in attendance.

While a military honor guard carried McCain’s casket into the cathedral for the service it was escorted by honorary pallbearers, friends of McCain including former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The procession carrying his casket made a stop at the Vietnam War Memorial, where wife Cindy McCain laid a wreath honoring servicemen and women who died during the war. Defense Secretary James Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general accompanied the McCain family to the war memorial.

The national memorial service for McCain at the cathedral is set to begin around 10 a.m. In addition to a tribute from the late Arizona senator and war hero’s daughter, Meghan, several other family members are expected to give readings during the service.

Obama, George W. Bush and other dignitaries are expected to speak, including Sens. Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte, former Sen. Joe Lieberman and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Funeral services for former presidents have been held at the National Cathedral since 1901, according to its website. Most recently, a service for former President Gerald Ford was held there in 2007. The cathedral has also hosted funeral and memorial services for dignitaries such as astronaut Neil Armstrong and former South African President Nelson Mandela.

ABC News will broadcast coverage of the services starting at 9 a.m. ET on Saturday on the ABC network and ABC News Live on Roku. There will be full coverage of the memorial service on

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