Sen. John McCain to lie in state. Here’s what that means

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Sen. John McCain

WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain, whose more than three-decade career in the Senate irreversibly impacted the tenor of Washington, will lie in state in the US Capitol this week, an honor given to few statesmen.

McCain, who served in Congress and the military as a Navy pilot and is remembered as a war hero after surviving more than five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, will lie in state and will also have memorial services at the National Cathedral and in Annapolis, Maryland, a Republican with knowledge of the plans told CNN.

Lying in state, according to the Architect of the Capitol, is an honor reserved for “government officials and military officers” and involves laying the casket of the deceased in the Rotunda of the US Capitol, where the public can come and offer final respects.

“These occasions are either authorized by a congressional resolution or approved by the congressional leadership, when permission is granted by survivors,” the Architect of the Capitol instructs on its website.

Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye, of Hawaii, was the last lawmaker who received the distinction, in 2012. Prominent private citizens can also be laid in the Rotunda, but they are lain in honor, not in state, as was the case with minister Billy Graham earlier this year.

Others who have lain in state include former Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Dwight Eisenhower and Herbert Hoover.

Rosa Parks, one of the most well-recognized figures of the civil rights movement, is the only woman to have lain in either honor or state.

According to the Architect of the Capitol, “since 1865, most services have used the catafalque,” or support for the coffin, that was “constructed for the coffin of Abraham Lincoln.”

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