Billy Graham will lie in honor in the US Capitol Rotunda, flags to be lowered in honor of ‘America’s Pastor’

Composite stock image | Photo of Rev. Billy Graham from public domain, St. George News

MONTREAT, N.C. (AP) — The Rev. Billy Graham’s body will lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda this week, the first time a private citizen has been accorded such recognition since civil rights hero Rosa Parks in 2005.

In this Oct 26, 1994, file photo, Evangelist Billy Graham begins his sermon in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome. Graham, who transformed American religious life through his preaching and activism, becoming a counselor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, has died. Spokesman Mark DeMoss says Graham, who long suffered from cancer, pneumonia and other ailments, died at his home in North Carolina on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. He was 99. | AP file photo by John Bazemore, St. George News

The two-day viewing in the District of Columbia on Feb. 28 and March 1 will be part of nine days of mourning for postwar America’s most famous evangelist, who died Wednesday at his home in North Carolina’s mountains at age 99.

A viewing will also be held at Graham’s Charlotte library on Monday and Tuesday before his body is taken to the nation’s capital for the Wednesday-Thursday viewing.

“America’s Pastor” will then be laid to rest March 2 at the foot of a cross-shaped walkway at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, buried in a simple prison-made plywood coffin next to his wife, Ruth, who died in 2007.

His tombstone will read “Preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

President Donald Trump has issued a directive to lower flags to half-staff on March 2 for the interment of Billy Graham. In coordination with this proclamation, Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert has requested all flags at state facilities and public grounds be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Friday. Individuals and businesses are encouraged to fly the flag at half-staff for the same length of time.

Rose Salazar of Cornelius, N.C. waits for the motorcade carrying the body of the late Rev. Billy Graham to proceed through uptown Charlotte, N.C. on the way to the Billy Graham Library on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. | Photo by David T. Foster III/The Charlotte Observer via AP, St. George News

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday announced the plans to honor Graham at the Capitol, a rite usually accorded presidents and other statesmen.

The North Carolina-born farm boy reached hundreds of millions of listeners around the world with his rallies — or what he called “crusades” — and his pioneering use of television.

More than anyone else, Graham built evangelicalism into a force that rivaled liberal Protestantism and Roman Catholicism in the U.S., and he became a confidant of presidents and other leaders.

His coffin was built by inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana, who typically construct caskets for fellow prisoners who cannot afford one.

Pallbearers carry the body of Rev. Billy Graham into a hearse before leaving the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, in Asheville, N.C. Graham’s body would be brought to his hometown of Charlotte on Saturday as part of a procession expected to draw crowds of well-wishers. | AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek, Pool, St. George News

Graham’s son the Rev. Franklin Graham toured the prison in 2005 and said he was so moved by the simple boxes lined with a mattress pad with a wooden cross nailed to the top that he asked for ones for his mother and father.

The funeral at Billy Graham’s Charlotte headquarters will be held in a tent in the main parking lot of the library in tribute to the tent revivals in Los Angeles in 1949 that propelled him to international fame, family spokesman Mark DeMoss said.

About 2,000 people are expected at the private, invitation-only funeral, and invitations are being sent to President Donald Trump and the five living ex-presidents, DeMoss said.

Around Montreat, where Graham lived, he was a humble presence known to slip quietly into a local church for Sunday services.

In this Dec. 12, 1961, file photo, Evangelist Billy Graham, left, talks with President John F. Kennedy during a call at the the White House in Washington. | AP file photo, St. George News

Shelby Crump of Starr, South Carolina, was visiting the town when she heard the news of the evangelist’s death.

“A lot of people were saved through his preaching,” she said. “I’m saddened. Not many like him left.”

See photo gallery below.

Lying in honor, lying in state

The Senate Historical Office explains that there are no hard and fast rules on this, but “lying in state” ceremonies are usually reserved for deceased presidents and other elected officials. “Lying in honor” has become the phrase used in recent years to describe ceremonies for those who didn’t serve in elected office – four including Billy Graham, two former U.S. Capitol Police officers who died in the line of duty in 1998 and Parks in 200g. “Lying in state” on the other hand is usually reserved for deceased presidents and other elected officials with the latter often accompanied by military honors.

Written by JONATHAN DREW and JEFFREY COLLINS, reporting from Columbia, South Carolina, and by KEVIN FREKING reporting on lying in honor, Associated Press. St. George News contributed content specific to honors given in Utah.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.


Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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