Inside, former military members in shorts and T-shirts stopped and saluted. Others placed their hand over their heart or bowed, including Vietnamese-born residents who travelled from Southern California.
Ray Riordan, an 87-year-old Navy veteran who fought in the Korean War, came from Payson, Arizona.
“I grew up where a handshake was a contract and your word was your bond,” Riordan said. “He represented the last of that as far as I’m concerned.”
By the time government offices closed for the day, as many as 6,000 people had filed by, and that number grew to about 7,500 Wednesday night, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesperson Bart Graves said.
Late Wednesday night, the McCain family issued a statement saying that about 15,000 people came to pay their respects to the late senator at the Capitol.
After Thursday’s church service, a motorcade will take McCain’s casket to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport for a final salute from members of the Arizona Air and Army National Guard.
From there, a C-32 military aircraft will take McCain to the East Coast for another public viewing at the U.S. Capitol on Friday.
There will be a service at the Washington National Cathedral on Saturday, followed by burial at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.