WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump eulogized the world-renown evangelical minister Rev. Billy Graham at a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
“Starting at a small bible school in Florida, he soon led a nationwide revival,” Trump said at a speech inside the Rotunda not far from Graham’s casket. “From a large tent in Los Angeles, to 100,000 people in a single day at Yankee Stadium, to more than 2 million people at Madison Square Garden over sixteen weeks in 1957.”
Trump said he and his parents attended the Yankee Stadium event. The president said his father, Fred, “was a big fan” of the reverend.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) also spoke.
Nearly all members of Congress were present as was much of Graham’s family.
Graham, a Southern Baptist, died last Wednesday at age 99 at his Montreat, Calif., home. He served as a spiritual adviser to more than a dozen U.S. presidents. Graham spent much of his life traveling the world promoting the evangelical message.
Graham’s casket will remain in the Rotunda until Thursday morning. The public may file by Graham’s closed casket from 1 to 8 p.m. EST. Graham is only the fourth private citizen to lay in honor at the Capitol. The others were Rosa Parks in 2005 and two Capitol police officers who died in the line of duty in 1998.
A private funeral service will be held in front of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., on Friday at noon EST.
He will be buried in a simple pine casket next to his wife, Ruth, who died in 2007. Inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary who make caskets for indigent prisoners built the casket.