U.S. leaders praise Rev. Billy Graham at U.S. Capitol ceremony

IMAGE: CNS photo/pool, Susan Walsh via Reuters

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) — President Donald Trump and congressional
leaders paid tribute to the Rev. Billy Graham Feb. 28 in a brief ceremony before
the public could pay respects to the evangelist while he lies in honor at the U.S.
Capitol Rotunda.

we give thanks for this extraordinary life. And it’s very fitting that we do so
right here in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol, where the memory of the
American people is enshrined. Here in this room we remember America is a nation
sustained by prayer,” said Trump.

Graham, who died at age 99 Feb. 21 at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, was
known as “America’s pastor” and was a spiritual adviser to 13 U.S.
presidents, from Harry S. Truman to Trump.

He is
the fourth person to lie in honor at the Capitol. The last person to have this
honor was civil rights icon Rosa Parks in 2005. U.S. Capitol Police officers
Jacob Joseph and John Michael Gibson, who were killed in the line of duty in
1998, also received the honor.

of Congress and Cabinet members attended the private ceremony along with
Rev. Graham’s family. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and House Speaker
Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, received the casket when it arrived at the Capitol.

Trump told
the assembled group that he heard Rev. Graham address a crowd at Yankee Stadium
because his father, Fred Trump, “who was a big fan,” wanted the
family to attend.

Ryan, who is Catholic, said Rev. Graham’s message to presidents, leaders and
ordinary people alike “never diminished” and said the well-known
preacher was “made great not by who he was, but by who he served, with all
of his heart and all of his soul, and all of his mind.”

our country was on its knees he reminded us, he convinced us, that is exactly
when we find our grace and our strength,” he added.

said Rev. Graham was more than a personal success story noting that the evangelist’s
life was always focused on preaching the gospel.

And this
preaching is how he was best known and will likely be remembered. The stadium
events where he preached around the world were called Billy Graham crusades. At
these venues, including a 16-week run at New York’s Madison Square Garden in
1957, he spoke to the crowds about Jesus and invited people to accept Jesus as
their Lord and Savior.

He also
reached at least 210 million people through his personal appearances and
through his radio and television ministries.

Graham’s body will lie in honor Feb. 28 and March 1 before it will be returned
to North Carolina for his private funeral March 2 at the Billy Graham Library
in Charlotte.

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Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.

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