WASHINGTON (TNS) — In September 2017, Sen. John McCain was asked how he would be like to be remembered.
He said that he wanted to be remembered as someone who served his country. "I hope we could add, honorably," he told CNN at the time.
And that is precisely how he was remembered by friends and former foes Saturday night after news broke that McCain had died at the age of 81 after battling brain cancer.
Following the news, members of both parties praised the longtime Arizona Republican senator, a Vietnam War combat veteran and POW, and his party's 2008 presidential nominee, as a true patriot.
President Donald Trump issued a brief statement on Twitter, saying "My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!"
Other lawmakers and former presidents issued statements praising McCain for his service. All praised his lifetime of service to the United States, including the GOP leaders in Congress.
"In an era filled with cynicism about national unity and public service, John McCain's life shone as a bright example," said Senate Majority Leader McConnell, R-Ky. "He showed us that boundless patriotism and self-sacrifice are not outdated concepts or cliches, but the building blocks of an extraordinary American life.
Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., said in a statement that McCain was "a giant of our time."
A flood of statements poured in from senators. McCain, who was first elected to the Senate in 1986, left a lasting impression on the institution.
South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of McCain's closest friends in the Senate, tweeted, "America and Freedom have lost one of her greatest champions ... And I've lost one of my dearest friends and mentors."
Graham, McCain and Connecticut Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman were known as the "three amigos" during their time together in the Senate. And they traveled the world together.
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., remembered his own trips abroad with the late Armed Services Committee chairman in a tweet Saturday night.
"I've been in multiple war zones with this man, and I never ceased to be amazed & moved at young servicemen/women delaying their promotion ceremonies until John McCain arrived to preside over their formal oath-takings," Sasse tweeted.
Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware also recalled traveling to a dozen countries with McCain, including to the hotel in Hanoi where McCain was tortured as a prisoner of war. Coons tweeted that those travels "taught me about America's roles and responsibilities in the world."
Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement that he had recently spoken with McCain.
"John and I both ended our final call a few weeks ago by telling each other, 'I love you,' and that was how we felt about one another," said the Nevada Democrat. "There will never be another John McCain."
Bipartisan praise McCain was his party's standard bearer in 2008 but he was also known for working across the aisle. One of his final actions in the Senate included breaking with his party to cast a "no" vote on the Republican effort to repeal much of Obamacare.
Democrats — even those who had faced off against him — joined in remembering McCain's service.
Former President Barack Obama, who defeated McCain in 2008, said in a statement that he and McCain "saw our political battles, even, as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those high ideals at home, and to advance them around the world."
"We saw this country as a place where anything is possible — and citizenship as our patriotic obligation to ensure it forever remains that way," Obama said.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. lost his son Beau to the same form of brain cancer that afflicted McCain.
"America will miss John McCain. The world will miss John McCain. And I will miss him dearly," Biden said in a statement.