Billy Graham

Billy Graham to lie in honor at the US Capitol Rotunda

Billy Graham, who died February 21, will lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Graham is the first religious leader to be offered this distinction.

His body will arrive at the Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 28, at 10:30 a.m. and a private service will be held.

The public has a chance to bid farewell to the evangelist who preached to nearly 215 million people in 400 crusades, simulcasts and evangelistic rallies in more than 185 countries and territories.

Graham will be the fourth private citizen to “lie in honor,” rather than “lie in state,” in recognition of his contributions to the nation.

Capitol Rotunda
A Capitol Police Honor Guard salutes the coffins of Officer Jacob Chestnut and Detective John Gibson in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. Chestnut and Gibson received the tribute of lying in honor after they were shot and killed during the 1998 United States Capitol shooting incident. Photo by United States House of Representatives Photography Office | Wikimedia

Only presidents, military commanders and members of Congress are granted the honor to lie in state. For those who lie in state, the casket is guarded at each of its corners by servicemen from each of the four branches of the United States Armed Forces.

In 1998, Congress created a similar privilege for private citizens to lie in honor. For those who lie in honor, an honor guard is provided by the United States Capitol Police.

The first leader to lie in the Capitol Rotunda was former Speaker of the House of Representatives Henry Clay, when he died in 1852. Some 30 individuals, including 11 presidents, have been extended this honor.

Three private citizens have lain in honor at the Capitol, including:

  • Rosa Parks, civil rights activist (2005)
  • United States Capitol Police Officer Jacob Chestnut, killed in the line of duty (1998)
  • United States Capitol Police Detective John Gibson, killed in the line of duty (1998)

— CNJ staff

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