Arizonans say goodbye to the late US Senator John McCain

Military pallbearers walk with the casket carrying the late Sen. John McCain after a memorial service at a local church

"He dedicated his life to serving his country," said former Arizona Senator Jon Kyl during a ceremony at the capitol rotunda in Phoenix attended by McCain's wife, Cindy, and their children.

"When he saw challenges to his institutions or values, he fought to protect them," Kyl said.

The remains of McCain were driven to the state capitol in a black hearse escorted by four policemen on motorcycles. An honor guard made up of veterans, soldiers and members of the police and firefighters greeted the coffin covered by the flag.

McCain's daughter, Meghan, wept openly as her father's coffin was placed on the Arizona state seal, where it will be on display for the public until Thursday.

Cindy McCain placed her cheek on the coffin and patted it delicately after the intimate ceremony.

The two-time Republican presidential candidate, naval aviator and prisoner of war in Vietnam died on Saturday after a one-year battle with brain cancer.

He would have turned 82 on Wednesday.

After a memorial service at Phoenix North Baptist Church on Thursday, McCain's remains will be flown in a military plane to Washington.

They will be screened for a public hearing on Friday at the rotunda of the United States Capitol, an honor reserved for people like John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and civil rights champion Rosa Parks.

The two men who defeated McCain in his White House campaigns, Republican George W. Bush in 2000 and Democrat Barack Obama in 2008, will be praising a service on Saturday at the National Cathedral in Washington.

Former coffin bearers Joe Biden, former Senator Russ Feingold, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and actor Warren Beatty will be among the bearers of the coffin.

McCain will be buried on Sunday at the US Naval Academy. UU In Annapolis, Maryland, at a private funeral.

After being under pressure from veterans groups, President Donald Trump, who had an antagonistic relationship with McCain, ordered that the flags be lowered to half the staff until his burial.

Trump is not expected to attend any of the services, but Vice President Mike Pence will speak at a ceremony at the US Capitol on Friday.