It stared with the arrival of an elaborate wreath from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday.

The single floral arrangement arrived at the Carl T. Hayden Veterans Affairs Medical Center without any fanfare. 

Soon after, dozens of bouquets and floral arrangements poured into the Phoenix facility. 

The countless donations were the result of one line on Sen. John McCain’s website

“If so inclined, flowers may be sent to your local VA Hospital. Thank you.”

McCain, who died of brain cancer on Aug. 25 at age 81, was a Navy aviator who was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967 and held as a prisoner of war until 1973. Throughout his life, he frequently advocated for veterans. 

The simple request on the bottom of the web page brought nearly a hundred arrangements to the Phoenix facility, said Cindy Dorfner, chief of public affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Dorfner and other officials didn’t know of the six-term Republican senator’s wishes until they were inundated with flowers. 

Some were from notable names, like Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy. Many came from mourners throughout the state.

“In honor and memory of Senator McCain and his service to this great nation,” one person wrote on the card that accompanied an intricate patriotic wreath. 

The numerous arrangements were dispersed throughout rooms of residents in the community living center and rooms of veterans staying overnight for in-patient procedures. Others were placed in common areas and the chapel. 

The McCain family also donated dozens of calla lilies from Thursday’s memorial service at the North Phoenix Baptist Church

“We are honored the McCain family thought of doing this, and we know it brightened the day of many veterans,” Dorfner said. 

McCain’s death resonated with the residents in the community living center, Dorfner said. Many of them also had served in the Vietnam War and were the same age as McCain.

They quietly held their own memorial service in remembrance of McCain during the week, which was filled with larger ceremonies in Arizona and Washington, D.C. 


John Graves, an Army veteran, belts out the National Anthem in an emotional moment on Aug. 29, 2018, as tribute to John McCain.
Laura Gómez, The Republic |


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