NC Delegation leads Graham departure

The body of Rev. Billy Graham returned to the Billy Graham Library on Thursday after lying in honor a full day at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

The body of Rev. Billy Graham returned to the Billy Graham Library on Thursday after lying in honor a full day at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

“It’s humbling to be able to represent such a wonderful incredible man,” Rep. Patrick McHenry said.

Politicians paused from the normal gridlock to pass a joint resolution that made the honor for America’s pastor possible, making him the fourth private citizen to lie in honor at the Capitol Rotunda.

“The reason why the legislation was able to pass so readily and so quickly was because of the qualities of Billy Graham,” McHenry said.

Those are qualities McHenry came to know several years back.

“To be able to sit down with Billy Graham in his home in Montreat was, I think, the highlight of my time as a member of Congress,” he said.

For Sen. Thom Tillis, memories of Graham are a little different. He said he has more of a personal relationship with other Graham family members but remembers Graham from his childhood.

“I remember vividly watching him and his ministry with my father in the living room with the old console TV sitting down on the floor. So, that’s the thing that’s remarkable about Billy Graham. People who have never seen him, never met him feel like they have a personal relationship with him, and he’s helped a lot of people have a personal relationship with God,” Tillis said.

While thousands lined up Wednesday to pay their respects and walk through the rotunda, there were a few dozen who showed up as his casket descended the Capitol steps.

“Never been to the rotunda, so I was hoping to get in there. Unfortunately, I guess the schedules were mixed up so I didn’t make that, but I’ll get it later on. But it’s just a pleasure to be here to pay my respects to a great man,” said Tom Melonic, of Buffalo, NY.

He watched as the North Carolina delegation of lawmakers, led by Sen. Richard Burr, greeted the Graham family and presented a flag.

“Billy Graham has fulfilled his promise. He has fulfilled his mission, and now I can only hear heaven saying well done thy good and faithful servant. It is time to come home,” said Shawn Smith, of Boulder City, Nevada.

During the procession, the group that gathered began singing “Amazing Grace” before leaving.

It was a special moment on display for the world of congregants Graham touched.

“I think it’s also a special moment for us as Americans, where we can have a little more unity of thought around a messenger and a message that is much more long lasting than the day-to-day politics that really inhabits most of our society today,” McHenry said.

Graham’s funeral is scheduled for noon Friday at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte.

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