Posted: February 28, 2018
The Rev. Billy Graham will lie in honor Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol, one of the nation's highest distinctions. The honor comes after thousands visited his casket over two days at the Billy Graham Library in west Charlotte, North Carolina.
President Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are expected Wednesday to remember "America's pastor," who died a week earlier at age 99.
It’s estimated well over 10,000 people have already come to the Billy Graham Library to remember the reverend.— Mark Barber (@MBarberWSOC9) February 28, 2018
Today, his body will be flown to Washington D.C. to lie in honor in the capitol rotunda from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. @wsoctv pic.twitter.com/R0feyxmi1O
Some 30 family members will accompany Graham's casket to Washington, where he befriended presidents of both parties and counseled others over seven decades.
WSOCTV was at the Billy Graham Library Wednesday morning as the hearse carrying Graham's body headed to the airport.
Graham is lying in honor beneath the iconic dome Wednesday and Thursday, before a funeral Friday near his home in Charlotte.
"If there is any American whose life and life's work deserves to be honored by laying in honor in the U.S. Capitol, it's Billy Graham," Ryan said.
The public will be invited into the Capitol Rotunda from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Though he met every president since Harry Truman and counseled most, Graham grew wary of politics after Watergate. He was closest to Richard Nixon but later said he felt used by him.
Nonetheless, Graham ministered to other presidents until his health began to fail about 10 years ago.
This morning I’m on my way to Washington, D.C., with my family as we escort my father’s body to lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) February 28, 2018
Former President Bill Clinton recalled seeing one of Graham's crusades as a child, a profound experience that became more amazing over his life. Graham counseled him as Arkansas governor, and later as president in the White House itself.
"In that little room, he was the same person I saw when I was 11 on that football field," Clinton said Tuesday after viewing the casket at Graham's home.
Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, also visited Graham's home on Monday.
In Washington, Ryan said there had been no doubt that Graham would receive the honor of a public viewing in the Rotunda. He told reporters that almost immediately upon hearing of Graham's death he, Trump, McConnell and Rep. Patrick McHenry, who represents the Graham family's district, agreed it would happen.
Graham shares the honor with 11 presidents and other distinguished Americans, starting with Sen. Henry Clay of Kentucky in 1852 and, most recently, Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii in 2012, according to the House and the Architect of the Capitol.
Graham is only the fourth private person to lie in honor since 1998. The others are two U.S. Capitol Police officers who died in the line of duty in 1998 and civil rights hero Rosa Parks in 2005.
Graham died last Wednesday at the age of 99 at his home in Montreat.
His body was taken to the Graham Family Homeplace via a 130-mile motorcade from Asheville.
The funeral will be held on Friday in a tent in the main parking lot of Graham's library in tribute to the 1949 Los Angeles tent revivals that propelled him to international fame, family spokesman Mark DeMoss said. About 2,000 people are expected at the private, invitation-only funeral.
Former President Jimmy Carter announced that he would not be able to attend the funeral.
Former President Bill Clinton paid his final respects to the Rev. Billy Graham on Tuesday during the lie in repose, arriving at the Billy Graham Library and visiting with the Graham family.
The former president arrived just after 11 a.m. After spending roughly 45 minutes inside the Graham childhood home with the Rev. Franklin Graham and walking the grounds of the library, Clinton addressed the media, reflecting on “America’s Pastor.”
"I'm glad to be back in this magnificent spot for the first time since I was here for the dedication. And I'm just one of millions, maybe hundreds of millions of people, who in their own way will find some way to say thank you and goodbye to Billy Graham," Clinton said.
Graham counseled Clinton and was even criticized by some conservative evangelicals for praying at Clinton’s inauguration because the former president is a supporter of abortion rights.
Graham was also criticized for publicly forgiving Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal and praising Hillary Clinton for forgiving her husband.
The former president went on to tell a story about how excited he was when, at 11 years old, his Sunday school teacher took him to War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Arkansas to see Graham’s crusade.
Clinton said many people were pressuring Graham to preach to whites only, but the reverend refused.
"He said that all people deserved to hear God's word and that if he couldn't preach to everyone, he wouldn't preach at all," Clinton said.
“I have read many things that contemporary people have said, some laudatory, some not so laudatory,” Clinton said. “I read a story today saying if you’re a preacher you have to be careful about getting too close to those politicians. I agree with that -- but don’t forget, those of us that are Christians believe in a god of second chances, and politicians need those more than anybody else. So you got to cut him a little slack for trying to give a willing ear and an open heart without regard to his political preferences.”
Clinton ended his remarks by saying, “I think he was a profoundly good man who conveyed a simple belief that we can claim kinship with God by asking, and that while we all believe that it's faith plus nothing, he wasn't faith plus nothing. He lived. he showed his faith by his works and by his life.”
“For me, every time I think about him, I'll be 11 again, having no idea how my life would turn out, grateful that in that moment, when it would be easier not to do it, he actually lived his faith,” Clinton said. “Thank you. I’m glad to be here.”
Former President George W. Bush and his wife, former first lady Laura Bush, paid their respects on Monday.
“If there is such a thing as a humble shepherd of the Lord, Billy Graham is that person,” Bush said.
It was announced that former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara Bush, would not be able to travel to Charlotte for the funeral due to health issues.
Former President Jimmy Carter will also not be attending the funeral.
President Donald Trump is scheduled to attend the funeral on Friday, but former President Barack Obama will not be attending.
Congress will host a special session Tuesday night to share its tributes and memories of Graham. His body will be flown to Washington Wednesday to lie in honor at the Capitol rotunda.
A group from North Carolina will have access to a special viewing line, and anyone who lives in Rep. Robert Pittenger's district can contact his office to reserve a space.
Former President Barack Obama is not planning to attend memorial services for the late evangelist Rev. Billy Graham this week.
Obama's office disclosed the former president's plans Monday.
In 2010, Obama visited Graham at his home in Montreat, North Carolina.
Former President George W. Bush paid his respects to Graham, known as the pastor to presidents, Monday afternoon at his library in North Carolina. Former President Bill Clinton will visit Tuesday to honor Graham's memory.
President Donald Trump is expected to attend Graham's funeral Friday in North Carolina after the preacher lies in honor at the U.S. Capitol this week.
Obama tweeted last week after Graham's death that he was "a humble servant who prayed for so many" and who gave hope to generations.
Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, will be coming to Charlotte on Monday to pay their respects to the Rev. Billy Graham.
A spokesperson for the Bush family said the two would not be able to make Billy Graham’s funeral on Friday because they were unable to break a longstanding scheduling commitment.
The Bush family will visit with the Graham family and pay their respects to the evangelical leader at the Graham Family Homeplace.
It was announced Thursday that George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara Bush, would not be able to travel to Charlotte for Graham’s funeral.
Graham had a close relationship with the Bush family. George H.W. Bush said that the pastor's presence on the eve of the Persian Gulf War helped him avoid doubt, "even for a second ... (about) the moral clarity of our mission that January night."
Years later his son, George W. Bush, recalled in an interview with Focus on the Family that he'd been drunk the first time he met Graham at the family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine. The two went for a walk that launched Bush's rejection of alcohol and embrace of Christianity.
Before his death, Rev. Billy Graham chose one of his favorite Scripture verses from the Bible to be placed on his grave marker.
Graham selected John 14:6 and the following inscription to be on his marker:
NOVEMBER 7, 1918 – FEBRUARY 21, 2018
PREACHER OF THE GOSPEL OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
John 14:6 reads, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'”
The verse was central in Graham’s preaching ministry, and he often referred to it throughout his life.
Graham will be buried next to his late wife, Ruth Bell Graham, who died June 14, 2007.
The couple’s caskets were designed and built by inmates at the nation’s largest maximum security prison, Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana.
While touring the correctional facility after preaching there in 2005, Graham’s son, Franklin, saw caskets being built. Inmates at Angola make caskets for other inmates who cannot afford to buy one. Franklin was moved by this and requested that inmates make caskets for his mother and father.
The caskets are made of plywood and lined with a mattress pad. A wooden cross is nailed to the top of the casket. The Graham family requested no upgrades to the plywood casket, only a few modifications to allow the casket to be transported easily.
The Rev. Billy Graham, the Christian evangelist known as “America’s pastor,” died Wednesday after battling various health ailments.
He was 99.
Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham, posted a tribute to him on Facebook following the news of his father’s death.
“Where is Heaven?” Franklin Graham recalled his father being asked, to which he then replied, “Heaven is where Jesus is, and I am going to Him soon!”
“He will be missed by our family, his colleagues, faithful ministry partners, and, yes, many around the world,” Franklin Graham wrote. “But what joy he has to be welcomed by God the Father, and be reunited with my mother in the presence of Jesus who speaks peace to eternal souls.”
Franklin Graham’s mother, Ruth Graham, died in 2007.
Read Franklin Graham’s Facebook post below:
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