The Rev. Billy Graham will lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol next week, an honor accorded to only 33 Americans – 11 of whom were presidents.
Graham will be the first private citizen so honored since Rosa Parks died in 2005.
House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Thursday that Graham’s body will lie in the Capitol rotunda from Feb. 28 to March 1 so the public can pay their respects. Graham died Wednesday morning at his home in Montreat at the age of 99.
“As soaring a figure as he was, Rev. Graham connected with people on an elemental level,” Ryan said Wednesday in a statement. “His reach was rooted in decency, humility, and love. He set a tone of ecumenical inclusion, advocated civil rights, and refused to accept the segregation of those attending his crusades.”
Before going to Washington, Graham’s body will lie in repose in Charlotte Monday and Tuesday at the Graham Family Homeplace at the Billy Graham Library. The public can pay its respects both days, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Graham’s funeral service is scheduled for Friday, March 2.
The last person to lie in state at the Capitol was Hawaii’s Daniel Inouye, a U.S. senator and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient in 2012.
Henry Clay was the first American to lie in state at the Capitol in 1852. Abraham Lincoln was the next, in 1865.
The term lying “in honor” dates from 1998, when two Capitol police officers were killed in the line of duty. Graham will be only the fourth private citizen to lie in honor.
“It is an honor because it is not something that is bestowed on many people,” said Kate Scott of the Senate historian’s office. “Generally it’s an honor reserved for elected officials or high profile (citizens). I think that tells you something about Billy Graham’s significance in our national history.”
LaVendrick Smith: @LaVendrickS