Joe Biden's Role In John McCain's Memorial Services Speaks To Their Strong Friendship

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By Renae Reints

After the recent death of Arizona's Republican senator, many were saddened by the loss of such a courageous and outspoken lawmaker. The Vietnam war hero is being honored by friends, family, and colleagues this week. Among them is a very close personal friend: Former Vice President Joe Biden is honoring John McCain at funeral services throughout this week.

At Thursday's service in Phoenix, Arizona, located at the North Phoenix Baptist Church, Biden delivered a tearful eulogy.

"My name's Joe Biden. I'm a Democrat, and I loved John McCain," he began, according to NPR. His speech went on to honor McCain's character, recount how they were practically brothers, and denounce the cancer that took both McCain's and Biden's son's life.

According to McCain's funeral details, Biden will also be a pallbearer at Saturday's service at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. Biden and McCain have been professional colleagues and friends for years; last year, when the National Constitution Center awarded its Liberty Medal to McCain "for his lifetime of sacrifice and service," Biden bestowed the medal on the Arizona senator and Vietnam war hero.

When McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer, Biden was right there for him. Biden's son, Beau, died of brain cancer at age 46 in 2015, People reports. While Beau battled the disease for a few years, McCain's cancer took his life just over a year after the tumor was discovered.

Thus the illness was all too familiar to Biden, who started the Biden Cancer Initiative with his wife after their son's death, aiming to aid cancer research.

In a touching moment on The View last December, Biden comforted McCain's daughter, Meghan, when she began to cry over her father's diagnosis. Biden recounted how McCain helped to take care of Beau, and reminded Meghan of her father's strength.

"Beau talked about your dad's courage," Biden said. Holding Meghan's hand, he spoke about scientific breakthroughs that can give hope to those with cancer diagnoses, and commented on the strong bond he shared with Meghan's father. "Her dad is one of my best friends," Biden told the audience. "We're like two brothers who were somehow raised by different fathers."

Despite being on opposite tickets in the 2008 presidential election — McCain as Republican presidential nominee and Biden as the Democratic Vice President nominee — the two never let their political views get in the way of their friendship. Biden visited his friend earlier this year, as McCain battled cancer. McCain's wife, Cindy, tweeted on April 30 of this year, "Enjoyed a wonderful visit from @JoeBiden yesterday. Such good family friends. Enjoyed catching up!"

After McCain's death last Saturday, Biden shared a touching tribute to his longtime friend on Twitter.

"As a POW, John endured the worst of what human beings can do to one another. In politics, he fell short of his greatest ambition. At the end of his life he faced a cruel and relentless disease. And yet through it all he never lost sight of what he believed most: Country First," wrote Biden, referencing McCain's 2008 campaign slogan. "America will miss John McCain. The world will miss John McCain. And I will miss him dearly."