© 2021 WKSU
Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Memorial And Remembrances Take Shape For Sen. John McCain


Remembrances for Senator John McCain are being held throughout this week, both in his home state of Arizona and here in D.C. The senator and former Republican presidential candidate died on Saturday after suffering for over a year with brain cancer. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith joins us now with a look ahead at what is planned.

Tam, John McCain is going to be honored in an extraordinary way. He's going to lie in state both at the Arizona and U.S. capitols. Right?

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: That's right. And in Arizona, in 40 years, only two other people have had this honor. There will be memorial services in Arizona and in Washington, D.C. He'll lie in state on Friday at the U.S. Capitol. And then Saturday, there will be a national memorial service - is how they're describing it - at the Washington National Cathedral. Then on Sunday, he'll be buried in a small private service at the U.S. Naval Academy.

MARTIN: A longtime colleague, friend, sometimes adversary of John McCain's - Senator Chuck Schumer, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, has proposed a different kind of honor for John McCain. He wants to rename a Senate office building after him. Here he is speaking to NPR yesterday.


CHUCK SCHUMER: He was such a towering figure and stood for so much the right things so needed at this time when our politics are so nasty and so fractious. I want future generations to remember. I'd like when little children visit the Senate and they say - who was John McCain? - because the building was named after him, have their parents and grandparents explain it to them.

MARTIN: Is this likely to happen?

KEITH: Well, Senator Schumer says that he has gotten positive responses - very positive responses from both sides of the aisle. His office told me that they want to move on this resolution quickly. We haven't heard from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office about timing or logistics or exactly how this would work. But just a note about the Russell office building - it was named in 1972 after Senator Richard Russell. He was known as a senator's senator. But he used his mastery of rules and procedures in the Senate to fight against civil rights legislation, to oppose bills that banned lynching and to really work against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. So...

MARTIN: So a lot people would like to see the name of that building changed, then...


MARTIN: ...From his name.

KEITH: Yes. So it's not just that it was the building that Senator McCain had his office in.

MARTIN: There are reports that two former presidents have been asked to eulogize Senator McCain at his memorial service.

KEITH: Yeah. The reports are that both George W. Bush and President Obama will offer eulogies. You know, what's amazing about that is that these are the two men who beat Senator McCain in his two efforts to become president of the United States. Bush beat McCain in 2000 in the primary, in the Republican primary. And then Barack Obama obviously won the presidency in 2008. And yet, the word is that they will be speaking at McCain's funeral.

MARTIN: They all held a lot of respect for him. Someone who will not be there - reportedly, at this point anyway - President Donald Trump not expected, at least at this point, to attend.

KEITH: Right. So President Trump put out a tweet immediately after the news of McCain's passing and didn't say anything nice about McCain. He offered sympathy and respect to the senator's family.

MARTIN: So it is - we begin to start to ask questions, though, about what happens to McCain's seat. What do we know at this point?

KEITH: So a spokesman for Arizona Governor Doug Ducey says that he will not name a replacement until after Senator McCain is buried this coming weekend.

MARTIN: NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith for us this morning.

Thanks so much, Tam.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.