Someone this week compared the farewell of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain to another such long goodbye that occurred 50 years ago, when the nation bid farewell to the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
I found the comparison an apt one, and one that I believe Sen. McCain would approve of.
On June 5, 1968, Sirhan Sirhan stepped out of a crowd in a Los Angeles hotel kitchen and shot RFK, who died the next day. Bobby Kennedy’s death shocked, stunned and saddened the nation.
There was a moving funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City and then the slow and emotional train ride from NYC to Washington, where the tracks were lined by millions of mourners waving goodbye to the slain political icon.
They would bury Bobby Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery in a simple grave next to that of his brother, President John F. Kennedy.
Fifty years later, another political titan is getting the deserved long goodbye. John McCain was saluted in Phoenix by friends and loved ones, including his longtime friend and political foe, former Vice President Joe Biden.
His remains then were flown aboard a government jet to Washington, where they will lie in state under the U.S. Capitol Dome in the Rotunda, an honor given only to 31 prior public officials.
There will be another service, with eulogies given by former Presidents Barack H. Obama and George W. Bush, two one-time presidential campaign rivals, but also men Sen. McCain grew to respect.
Then the senator’s remains will be taken to Annapolis, Md., where they will rest for eternity near where McCain’s long, distinguished and heroic public service career began … as a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy.
I like the comparison in the way the nation has saluted these men. I would like to believe Bobby Kennedy and John McCain would as well.
Indeed, I am certain the men’s spirits will find each other in heaven and they will share stories of battles won and lost and of the good they both sought to bring to the nation that bade them long and heartfelt farewells.