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Americans prepared Friday to honor the late national icon John McCain, whose remains were to lay in state in the US Capitol as part of a momentous sendoff for the warrior-turned-politician.

McCain's body, which had lain in state at the U.S. Capitol, arrived at the Washington National Cathedral after his procession first stopped at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where his wife, Cindy McCain, laid a wreath to honor those who died in the war.

McCain's family made clear Trump was not welcome at memorial services in Arizona and Washington or at Sunday's private burial service at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

Washington's bitterly divided leaders came together on Friday to praise the late Senator John McCain as an embodiment of America's fighting spirit, idealism and sense of humour, but there was one notable absentee: President Donald Trump.

Visitor looks the names on the wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC, May 28, 2017.

Fitzgerald also discussed his need to visit Vietnam to see what McCain endured, telling the roughly 3,500 people in attendance, "I wanted to see the places where the will of John McCain was tested and forged", Fitzgerald said, according to ESPN.

Senator John McCain was remembered in Phoenix on Thursday as a "true American hero" and a political "maverick", whose salty humor and scrappy nature endeared him to generations of Arizonans and Americans.

His tense relationship with McCain continued even after the senator's death, when it took several hours for Trump to issue a proclamation lowering flags at federal buildings to half-staff until McCain's interment.

"I always thought of John as a brother", Biden added. "We go back a long way".

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After the service, McCain's widow, Cindy, and Sen.

Ordinary citizens will be among those who pay their respects to the Arizona Republican, as will his longtime congressional colleagues.

On Saturday, a motorcade will take McCain's casket past the capital's stately monuments en route to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where Cindy McCain will place a wreath at the black, v-shaped granite wall inscribed with the names of more than 58,000 USA soldiers killed in combat. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger will give tributes.

Later, he told them in the eulogy, "You are a living legacy and proof of John McCain's success".

Larson spent 28 years in the Air Force, including stints with the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, and said he has "kept an ear" on McCain, voting for him for president in 2008.

Three former North Atlantic Treaty Organisation secretaries general have called for the alliance's new $1.4 billion Brussels-based headquarters to be named McCain.

Asked by Bloomberg whether McCain would have made a better president than Barack Obama, who McCain lost to in 2008, the president wouldn't say. Amid personal memories, there were references to current political divisions - and to the presidency of Trump, which deeply troubled the senator.

The public began filing into the Capitol to pay their respects to McCain around 1 p.m.

But Pence, Chief of Staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis were among a number of Team Trump officials were also in attendance, with Pence delivering one of the first speeches.