Charlotte, North Carolina: “As a mark of respect for the memory of Reverend Billy Graham, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, that on the day of his interment, the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff.” All flags should return to full staff at sunset on Friday, March 2. – President Donald Trump
America’s 1st and 2nd citizens – Trumps and Pences – are among thousands of faithful and dignitaries attending the funeral service, today, Friday for Reverend Billy Graham, under a large tent constructed in front of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.
This is after the world-renowned evangelist, who died last week at the age of 99, spent two days as the fourth private citizen to lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in D.C.
Following Friday’s service, Graham will be buried at the foot of the cross-shaped brick walkway in the library’s Prayer Garden, next to his wife.
More than 2,000 guests are expected to attend, including President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump. Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence are also expected at the funeral.
The tent is a reminder of Graham’s beginnings decades ago under “The Canvas Cathedral” — a white canvas tent the pastor used to spread the gospel during a 1949 crusade in downtown Los Angeles. More than 350,000 people heard Graham preach for eight weeks.
“It was Mr. Graham’s explicit intent that his funeral service reflect and reinforce the Gospel message he preached for more than 60 years,” Mark DeMoss, a spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said.
The library said Graham’s grave marker will cite John 14:6, which the evangelist selected personally.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me,'” The association said in a tweet.
Graham’s sister and each of his five children will speak at the funeral Friday. Franklin Graham, his oldest son, will deliver the eulogy.
Often called “America’s pastor,” Graham was widely revered and his death on Feb. 21 drew an outpouring of grief. During his lifetime, he appeared on the Gallup Poll’s annual list of most admired men a record 61 times and prayed with every U.S. president from Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama.
Wednesday and Thursday, Graham’s casket lay in honor beneath the U.S. Capitol Rotunda — a top distinction given to only three private citizens before Graham.
“We honor Billy Graham as only three private citizens before him have been honored,” Trump said Wednesday. “We say a prayer for our country: that all across this land, the Lord will raise up men and women like Billy Graham to spread a message of love and hope to every precious child of God.”
EARLIER: Billy Graham Lies In Honor At U.S. Capitol Rotunda – Washington D.C. USA: President Donald Trump and lawmakers gathered on Wednesday to pay their respects to the late Reverend Billy Graham at the U.S. Capitol. “Billy Graham carried his message around the world. But his heart — as Franklin will tell you — was always in America,” Trump said.
“Today, in the center of this great Chamber lies Billy Graham – an Ambassador for Christ who reminded the world of the power of prayer and the gift of God’s grace.” – President Trump
“Today we honor Billy Graham as only three private citizens before him have been honored. We say a prayer for our country: that all across this land, the Lord will raise up men and women like Billy Graham to spread a message of love and hope to every precious child of God.” – President Trump
Graham died last week at the age of 99. His funeral is Friday in North Carolina.
As Graham’s casket lay in honor in the building’s rotunda, Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave brief speeches to commemorate the evangelist.
The honor is extremely rare. It usually goes to presidents and members of Congress: In those cases, it’s technically called lying in state.
Graham is now the fourth non-governmental person – private citizen – in U.S. History that Congress has honored by displaying his coffin in the Rotunda. The others are civil rights leader Rosa Parks and two Capital Security Officers, Jacob J. Chestnut and John M. Gibson, killed in the line of duty.