WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, thousands gathered in the Capitol Rotunda to honor Sen. John McCain.
A private ceremony was held Friday morning, and now it’s the public’s turn as thousands are waiting outside – dressed for any weather – to say goodbye.
For McCain, it’s one final return to Capitol Hill.
For 34 years, Sen. McCain dedicated himself to Congress, first in the House of Representatives and then for three decades in the Senate.
Today, his colleagues are dedicating both wreaths and words in his honor.
“This is one of the bravest souls this country has ever produce,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin). “However you choose to do it – do it like Senator McCain did.”
Hundreds packed into the Capitol Rotunda, including the senator’s wife, his children and his 106-year-old mother.
Some members of the president’s cabinet paid their respects, but President Donald Trump was absent from the memorial at McCain’s request.
"The president asked me to be here on behalf of a grateful nation, to pay a debt of honor and respect to a man who served our country though out his life,” said Vice President Mike Pence.
McCain will lie in state in the Rotunda, an honor that only 30 other people in the country’s history have been given.
The tributes will continue on Saturday with a memorial service at the National Cathedral, where former Presidents Barrack Obama and George W. Bush will eulogize the senator. First, his processional will stop at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where his wife Cindy will lay a wreath.