Christian evangelist minister Billy Graham died earlier this week at 99 after several decades as “America’s Pastor.” Now, the man who provided spiritual counsel to every president from Harry Truman to Barack Obama will lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol, a rare honor for a civilian and the first such time for a religious leader.
The offices of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the decision and said that the two congressional leaders would hold a memorial service as well. Ryan added that this special placement was determined, in part, “[s]o members of the public can pay their respects.”
Graham’s service will be the 32nd such ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda. The most recent came in 2012 for former Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI). Presidents Lincoln and Ford, J. Edgar Hoover, Rosa Parks, and Pierre Charles L’Enfant, the engineer who designed Washington D.C., are a few of the notable people to have been similarly honored. During both World War II and the Korean War, the remains of unknown soldiers also received the honor.
Graham’s funeral will be held next week in Charlotte. President Trump, Vice President Pence, and all of the living ex-presidents have been invited to attend.