WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst and his son, Ursuline Academy (Cincinnati) Principal Thomas Barhorst, attended the public visitation for the late Senator John McCain. McCain’s body lay in state in the United States Capitol Rotunda on Friday. The father son duo drove to Baltimore Friday morning and then took the train to Union Station, arriving about 1 p.m., about the same time the public viewing began.
When they arrived, they found long lines had already formed. One line formed in front of the Supreme Court building, and another in front of the Library of Congress.
In fact, people began lining up early Friday morning outside the Capitol’s visitor center entrance despite the high temperatures forecasters had predicted for the afternoon hours. By the time the public viewing began, the sun was beating down on the several thousand people who stood in the two lines waiting to be admitted.
Once inside the Visitors Center, mourners were processed through security and directed upstairs into the dome. The lines were steady, with hundreds remaining in line after 7:30 p.m. The public viewing was scheduled to end at 8 p.m.
“Despite the oppressive heat and the long lines, we both agreed that we were glad we had made the trip,” Mike Barhorst said. “Young and old, service members in dress uniform, quite a few Vietnamese -some in traditional dress, young couples with small children, older folks in wheelchairs – those waiting represented a true cross section of America.”
“As we walked across the grounds, we found Ohio gubernatorial candidate and former United States Senator Mike DeWine and his wife Fran sitting on a bench under a shade tree,” Barhorst said. “I introduced them to Tom and then we continued on our way. After we paid our respects and were on our way back to the train station, I ran into Sidney native Katie Rossman. She is attending college in the District and along with her roommates, was on her way to pay her respects.
“On Wednesday, Tom decided he wanted to go, and I decided to go as well. I worked late Wednesday evening finishing the text for the printed program for the Civil War Living History Weekend and on Thursday, City Clerk Kari Egbert rescheduled Friday’s appointments,” Barhorst saaid. “By working late again Thursday and by talking through editorial changes in the printed program by phone with Mary Beth Monnier of Creative Marketing Strategies as we made our way to Baltimore, the print deadlines were met and I was able to relax and enjoy the experience.”
“I enjoyed talking with the many individuals we passed as we stood in line, first outside and then mercifully, again inside where it was air conditioned,” Barhorst said. “From the young Army captain originally from San Antonio and assigned to the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg to the elderly couple from Harrisburg leaning on canes to the young couple with three small children from Orlando, the themes they expressed were similar. I kept hearing words like service, honor, country and patriot.”
“As a former history teacher,” Barhorst said, “attending the visitation was especially meaningful. Knowing that this was just the 31st time that someone had lain in state in the Capitol, knowing that the Senator’s casket was placed on the same catafalque that had first held the remains of Abraham Lincoln, knowing that the remains of ten other presidents had also been placed on the same bier, those were all reasons to attend.”
“Then there was the man himself – a man whose middle name was ‘Sidney’ – an individual who amid the acrimony and discord of Washington, managed to maintain a commitment to integrity, courage and collegiality with nearly every one of his colleagues regardless of political differences. I didn’t always agree with him, but I did admire him,” Barhorst said.