Veterans, naval officers, Republicans, Democrats, college students, history buffs — they all stood in the same line, the same rain, then the same sweltering heat, to pay respect to Sen. John McCain.
The Arizona Republican lay in state in the Capitol on Friday, the public waiting its turn to walk through the rotunda at 1 p.m. Some people dressed in suits came straight from work. Others drove for hours to be there. Vietnamese and Polish voices mixed among the English speakers.
By 8 a.m., already a handful of people waited in line. By 12:30 p.m., hundreds had arrived.
“Certainly, Senator McCain went through a lot more hardships than just a little bit of rain. I’m very glad I came downtown for this,” Jeffery Eck of Poolesville, Maryland said.
Veterans, Campaign Staffers, Liberals and Trump Fans All Braved the Weather to Honor McCain
“I always felt that Senator McCain was maybe just one of the few politicians who always had the country, the best interest of the country, at heart,” Eck said.
A man from Vietnam who lives in Virginia held an American flag and wore a red hat. “Make America Great Again.” He stood patiently for his chance to enter.
Verbena Browley of Bowie, Maryland, had two reasons for coming to the Capitol.
“I like historical events and as far as he’s concerned, if you don’t stand for something, you fall for anything and I like the way he stood up,” she said.
Jim Burke flew down from Amherst, N.H., to honor “an American that deserves a tribute.”
Burke wore a McCain hat. He worked on the 2000 and 2008 presidential campaign in New Hampshire and said got to meet the senator on more than one occasion.
A 9/11 first responder Jaime Hazan and his support dog drove down from Jersey City, New Jersey.
“I think that looking around outside here today and seeing the diverse crowd and how dedicated people are to coming from all over the country to see him, it’s a real tribute to the kind of man that he was,” Hazan said.
Hazan wasn’t thrilled about the man in the Trump hat in the front of the line.
“That man is like the remnant of an infection that you get and you’re like on your last day of your antibiotic and there’s still a little something going on there, that’s kind of what this feels like,” Hazan said.
Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee of Michigan checked out the line after the service inside ended. Several dozen current and former House members attended.
“Just sort of the quiet, calm honor,” Kildee said. “Seeing him lie there in state, in a place that’s really reserved for the most important Americans is pretty moving.”
A Navy veteran, Louis Deardorff of Rockville Maryland said he had always been a McCain fan — “one of the true American heroes,” he said.
Two George Washington University juniors finished class then headed to the Capitol.
“I consider myself liberal but I have a huge amount of respect for him,” Graham Rosen, an international affairs major, said.
“I respect the man and his principals more than anything else and I just wanted to come and pay my respects,” said John Miller, a political science and history major.
Martin Klawber of Bethesda, Maryland, said he’s not a conservative, but he stood in line anyway.
“One word: integrity,” Klawber said. “What he did for the country and the kind of demeanor across the aisle, that’s a lost thing.”
His neighbor in line chimed in.
“The senator was the kind of individual that we just don’t have anymore,” Ron Nesbitt said. “Maybe John Lewis in the Congress, maybe, that’s really it.”
For George Faber of Baltimore, waiting for McCain even evoked harmony.
“I feel for … everyone else across the country who believes in getting along with people,” he said.