Heard on the Hill

McCain and 37 Others Remembered at Annual Memorial Service

Former members ‘broke down barriers and challenged the status quo’

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi remembers her friend, Rep. Louise Slaughter, at a ceremony to honor former members of Congress who died over the past year. (Alex Gangitano/CQ Roll Call)

Just a few days after Sen. John McCain lay in state in the room next door, the Arizona senator and the 37 other former members of Congress who died over the last year were honored at a ceremony in Statuary Hall on Wednesday.

Arizona’s other senator, Jeff Flake, was added to the list of participants following the death of his close colleague.

Flake solemnly walked to the podium and said those who knew McCain would recognize the reading: “Eternal Father,” which was written by William Whiting as a Navy hymn.

The 38 members represented 25 states and served for a combined 372 years, said former Texas Rep. Martin Frost, the current president of the Association of Former Members of Congress.

Among them they served 137 years in the military in addition to their time in Congress, and all of them “broke down barriers and challenged the status quo,” Frost said.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi remembered her friend, Rep. Louise Slaughter, who died in office earlier this year.

“I’ll miss her forever,” she said, before reciting a passage from Plutarch.

Former North Dakota Rep. Byron Dorgan noted the loss of McCain.

“In recent days, we have lost another member of Congress. A hero. A patriot,” he said. He then read an excerpt from McCain’s “Why Courage Matters.”

Former congresswoman Susan Molinari, daughter of former Rep. Guy Molinari, who died in July, read “When Great Trees Fall” by Maya Angelou. Rep. Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania read “Because You Have Lived” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and former Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle read an excerpt from a 1961 President John F. Kennedy speech.

After each member’s name was read aloud, a bell tolled and the family was asked to stand. No McCain family members were present.

Watch: 38 Former Members Who Died This Past Year Honored at Capitol

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