Former president of the United States Barack Obama gave a heartfelt eulogy at Senator John McCain’s funeral yesterday morning.
“Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did,” Obama said in a statement upon the news of McCain’s passing on August 25th.
“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 president George W. Bush also delivered a eulogy at the funeral, which was held at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Saturday morning at 10 a.m.
“We never doubted we were on the same team,” Obama said in his speech.
“When John called me with the request earlier this year, I’ll admit sadness and also a certain surprise,” Obama said. “John and I could not have been more different. We’re of different generations. I came from a broken home and never knew my father. John was the scion of one of America’s most distinguished military families. I have a reputation for keeping cool—John, not so much. We were standard-bearers of different American political traditions, and throughout my presidency, John never hesitated to tell me when he thought I was screwing up—which by his calculation was about once a day. But for all our differences, for all of the times we sparred, I never tried to hide, and I think John came to understand, the long-standing admiration that I had for him.”
Obama mentioned that McCain was “willing to buck his own party at times” and work across the aisle on things like campaign-finance reform and immigration reform.
“What better way to honor John McCain’s life of service than, as best we can, follow his example. To prove that the willingness to get in the arena and fight for this country is not reserved for the few, it is open to all of us, and in fact it is demanded of all of us as citizens of this great republic,” said Obama.
“Some things bigger than party or ambition or money or fame or power,” Obama said in close. “Some things are worth risking everything for: principles that are eternal, truths that are abiding. At his best, John showed us what that means. For that, we are all deeply in his debt.”
According to CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, Barack Obama and Bush received phone calls in April asking if they’d consider giving eulogies at McCain’s funeral when the time came. Both men immediately agreed.
McCain fought for unity in his last days, and wanted it reflected at his funeral. He felt Obama could deliver that message of unity best. Obama closed the ceremony with his remarks.
McCain called us all to action in his goodbye statement to the American people:
We are 325 million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country we will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do.
We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to.