The Americans paid their last respects to John McCain on Friday as the national icon lay on the United States Capitol as part of a momentous farewell to the war hero and statesman.
McCain's widow, Cindy, her seven children and 106-year-old mother Roberta McCain joined dozens of members of Congress, state governors, diplomats and other dignitaries to bid farewell to the senator.
President Donald Trump, who had bitterly antagonized McCain, was notably absent from the gloomy ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda, an honor bestowed on only 30 Americans throughout the nation's history.
The last visit to Washington by McCain, who died last Saturday at the age of 81 after a one-year battle with cancer, will last for two days with former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to praise him during a memorial service Saturday in the city National Cathedral
Just before 11:00 a.m. (1500 GMT) on Friday, a military honor guard carried the flag-draped coffin up the steps of the Capitol, advancing step by step, while inside the Rotunda the mourners dressed in black remained silent.
The redhead Roberta McCain, whose presence was not confirmed until the eve of the ceremony, seemed to be composed as she approached her son's coffin in a wheelchair, making the sign of the cross on his chest.
Sitting next to her granddaughter Meghan McCain, she took the girl's hand and seemed to comfort her as she cried.
Final reprimand to Trump
Vice President Mike Pence, who represented Trump at the ceremony, began his tribute with a speech before McCain's family, and particularly his mother.
"It is deeply humiliating to appear before you today at the Capitol of the United States to commemorate the life and service of an American patriot, Senator John McCain," said Pence.
"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 throughout his life, in uniform and in public office."
It was an uncomfortable message to deliver by a president who has carefully refrained from praising McCain, either during his illness or since his death.
Among the guests was former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who traveled in a wheelchair at age 95; the actor Warren Beatty, a friend of McCain; and former Senator Joe Lieberman, who in 2008 McCain was about to name his running mate.
The former aviator spent more than five years in a Vietnamese prison camp, returning home to start a political career that led him to win the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.
He will be buried on Sunday at the Naval Academy of the United States in Annapolis, Maryland.
The funeral services were planned in advance by McCain, who made it clear that the president of the United States was not welcome, in what was seen as a final reprimand to Trump.
His dispute took root during Trump's campaign in 2016, when he questioned the idea that McCain was a war hero, because he had been captured after his Navy fighter plane was shot down over Hanoi in 1967.
The feud became clear this week in the dispute over whether the White House would keep its flags to half the staff in McCain's honor, which Trump finally agreed to do under heavy pressure from politicians, veterans groups and, reportedly, your own collaborators
Meanwhile, McCain gave Trump one final blow in a farewell message to the nation, delivered posthumously on Monday, warning against "confusing our patriotism with tribal rivalries."
The president was unusually quiet at the White House on Friday, did not tweet during the McCain ceremony, and then left for a political event in North Carolina.
While Trump was staying away, Pence was joined by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, National Security Advisor John Bolton and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Thousands of people lined up outside for hours, many holding umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun, waiting for their chance to honor a patriot.
"I wanted to pay my respects to John McCain," Mike Holy, a veteran of the Vietnam War wearing a Hillary Clinton button, told AFP while waiting in a line that snaked down the street.
Holy, 67, is a Democrat, but felt compelled to vote for McCain in 2008, and sided with the senator by not inviting Trump to recall the funeral.
"I think McCain was expressing a legitimate opinion, that he did not want someone who for the most part is all stuffed and without substance," he said.
McCain's remains were taken by military plane to Washington on Thursday from Arizona, which he had represented in Congress since his first election in 1982.