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By Ethan Sacks

In a moving moment that underscored just how great the loss of John McCain has been to his family, the late senator's wife, Cindy, leaned over his casket and kissed it during a memorial service Wednesday at the Arizona State Capitol.

After the tender personal moment, John McCain's children filed past the casket to touch it as it laid in state in the building's rotunda — a rare honor. Cameras showed daughter Meghan McCain breaking down in tears as she stood by the coffin.

Image:
Meghan McCain cries at the casket of her father during the memorial service.Jae C. Hong / AP

John McCain died Saturday of brain cancer at the age of 81. He leaves behind a legacy as a naval aviator who survived a five-year span as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and returned to become a longtime Republican congressman and senator from Arizona and a two-time contender for the presidency.

On Wednesday, signs of that military legacy were evident at the service. Uniformed Arizona National Guard members carried the casket into the rotunda.

Before the service, veterans and active military members lined up outside to salute the hearse as it made its solemn journey to the Capitol.

McCain is the third person to lie in state at the Capitol rotunda in the past four decades, according to the Associated Press. The others were Olympian Jesse Owens (1980) and Arizona state Sen. Marilyn Jarrett (2006).

Following a memorial service at North Phoenix Baptist Church on Thursday, McCain's body will be flown to Washington for a viewing Friday at the U.S. Capitol. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama will deliver eulogies during a private memorial service at Washington National Cathedral on Saturday, and McCain will be buried at the U.S. Naval Academy the next day.