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Painters, window washers, janitors and groundskeepers went to work Sunday at the Arizona Capitol, touching up the building in preparation for U.S. Sen. John McCain’s memorial event.

McCain will lie in state under the Capitol’s copper-domed rotunda on Wednesday — a rare honor reserved for the most distinguished statesmen and stateswomen. 

Crews began cleaning the building’s exterior around 8:30 a.m. They used a cherry-picker lift to power wash its tufa-stoned columns and granite arched windows, so they glisten in the sun.

Inside, laborers painted walls, polished floors and dusted portraits of past state leaders that hang in the building.

The Capitol building once housed the state Legislature and now holds a museum and cafe.

Gov. Doug Ducey said Sunday morning that McCain will lie in state at the Capitol on Wednesday, which would have been his 82nd birthday. Ducey called the tribute “a rare and distinct occurrence for a truly special man.”

“John McCain is someone that was synonymous with our state,” Ducey told The Arizona Republic on Sunday. “And being able to not only have him lie in state but on his birthday — that is both a recognition of his service and sacrifice for his country, but also something I believe should be a celebration of an American life well lived.”

A private ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, followed by public visitation from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m at 1700 W. Washington St.

Thousands of people are expected to attend. The ceremony will be live streamed on McCain’s old campaign website:

McCain died Saturday at his family’s home near Sedona after a 13-month battle with brain cancer. He was 81.

On Sunday, mourners trickled through the Capitol grounds. Some carried bouquets of flowers that they placed at the foot of a flagpole. Others took pictures in front of the U.S. and Arizona flags flying at half-staff.

Among them was Laila Abbakar, a refugee from the genocide-torn Darfur region of Sudan. She said McCain always fought for her community, despite any politics.

“Yesterday, I feel like I lost someone like my dad,” Abbakar said, bursting into tears as she sat on a bench in the shade of the Capitol. “Who will take his place to help us as a refugee?

“I hope he’s resting in peace.”

Republic reporter Maria Polletta contributed to this article.




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