John McCain's Family & Friends Mourn His Passing

Aug 26, 2018 at 5:17 p.m. ET
Senator John McCain
Image: Larry French/Getty Images For WS Productions.

On Saturday, the world lost a true American hero when John S. McCain III lost his battle with brain cancer. McCain, a six-term Arizona senator and two-time presidential contender, was 81 when he died at his Arizona ranch, surrounded by loved ones.

More: John McCain Talks About Death — His Own — in New Memoir

According to McCain’s office, he died at 4:28 p.m. local time. McCain had been open about his health since being diagnosed in July 2017 with a malignant and particularly aggressive form of brain cancer called a glioblastoma. Over the past year, he periodically underwent chemotherapy and radiation. On Friday, his camp announced that he would be stopping treatment altogether.

McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, shared the news of her father’s death via a lengthy and emotional statement on Twitter.

“I was with my father at his end, as he was with me at my beginning. In the thirty-three years we shared together, he raised me, taught me, corrected me, comforted me, encouraged me, and supported me in all things. He loved me, and I loved him. He taught me how to live. His love and his care, ever present, always unfailing, took me from a girl to a woman — and he showed me what it is to be a man,” Meghan wrote. She added, among other sentiments, “All that I am is thanks to him. Now that he is gone, the task of my lifetime is to live up to his example, his expectations, and his love.”

Cindy McCain, the senator’s wife, also took to Twitter to mourn her loss. “My heart is broken. I am so lucky to have lived the adventure of loving this incredible man for 38 years. He passed the way he lived, on his own terms, surrounded by the people he loved, in the place he loved best,” Cindy said.

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A lifelong public servant, John McCain earned a reputation as a “maverick” — a conservative who was willing to cross partisan lines to defend the democratic principles he’d devoted his life to protecting. He served in the U.S. Navy, notably surviving more than five years of torture as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Despite the inhumane treatment he suffered during that time, McCain rejected early release in the name of honor and out of loyalty to his fellow prisoners of war.

On Saturday, former president Barack Obama paid touching tribute to his former political opponent (McCain memorably refused to personally disparage Obama when they ran against each other in 2008).

“John McCain and I were members of different generations, came from completely different backgrounds, and competed at the highest level of politics,” Obama said in a statement. “But we shared, for all our differences, a fidelity to something higher — the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed.”

More: Joe Biden Consoled a Crying Meghan McCain on Live TV

Obama alluded to McCain’s strength of character, saying, “Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did. But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own. At John’s best, he showed us what that means. And for that, we are all in his debt.”

Former vice president and Delaware senator Joe Biden, a close friend of McCain’s whose own son succumbed to brain cancer, also issued a statement. “John McCain will cast a long shadow. His impact on America hasn’t ended. Not even close. It will go on for many years to come,” Biden said in his statement.

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton also remembered her friend and colleague, telling NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, “He leaves a legacy of service and courage. The courage we all came to know because of his time as a P.O.W., but getting up every day and working as hard as he did for the people of Arizona, for the values that he cherished, wasn’t easy.”

Former president George W. Bush, for whom McCain was an outspoken advocate, called his dear friend "a patriot of the highest order." 

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Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau called McCain “an inspiration to millions,” and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison referred to McCain as “a true friend” and “a man of great courage and conviction.”

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The outpouring of public support for the McCain family and admiration for McCain himself also came from Hollywood. Celebs flooded Twitter and Instagram with condolences.

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Asked recently how he would hope to be remembered, McCain said, “That I made a major contribution to the defense of the nation.” Mission accomplished, good sir. Rest easy.

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