Former US vice president Joe Biden has broken down in tears while paying a moving tribute to the late John McCain at his memorial service on Thursday.
The 75-year-old’s eulogy in Phoenix came a day after McCain’s heartbroken daughter broke down as she bid farewell to her father. Biden used his speech to share personal stories of his time with McCain in the Senate and how much the late politician loved America.
While Biden has given many eulogies throughout his life, he said McCain’s was particularly difficult.
“My name is Joe Biden. I’m a Democrat. And I loved John McCain,” he said, wiping tears from his eyes. “I always thought of John as a brother. We had a hell of a lot of family fights.”
He explained how he’d met McCain in the ‘70s when he was serving as a liaison between the Navy and the Senate. The pair went on to work together for more than two decades and developed what Biden described as a “great friendship”, despite their sometimes different political views.
“Because above all, we understood the same thing: All politics is personal,” he said. “It’s all about trust. I trusted John with my life.”
During his heartfelt eulogy, Biden also spoke about his late son, Beau. Beau passed away in 2015 of glioblastoma, the same brain cancer that claimed McCain’s life in the end.
“The disease that took John’s life – that took our friend Ted Kennedy’s life, that took my son Beau’s life – is brutal, relentless, unforgiving,” Biden explained. “It takes so much from those we love, and from the families who love them, that in order to survive we have to remember how they lived, not how they died.
“The image I carry with me of Beau is strong, vibrant: the best man his brother Hunter and I ever knew. I’m sure Vicky has her image of Teddy, maybe looking so alive on that beautiful sailboat of his,” Biden said.
He encouraged those who loved McCain to remember his smile, laugh and happy moments and to hold on to that image of him.
“Find your image of John, remember it,” he told McCain’s family. “His smile, his laugh, a moment on the ranch, at a dinner, on a vacation, when you would turn and see him just staring at you, or when you saw the sheer joy that crossed his face the moment he knew he was about to take the stage or go to the floor of the Senate – and start a fight. God, he loved it.”
McCain’s death came just a day after his family released a heartbreaking statement announcing he would be ceasing treatment for his aggressive brain cancer. The former presidential nominee, and once a prisoner of war, initially announced news of his cancer in July last year. The tumour was discovered through tissue analysis after the senator had a blood clot removed from his eye.
Donald Trump was not present at the service – with McCain insisting when he was alive that he didn’t want the US president at his funeral, which will take place on Sunday in the US.