The body of the late Rev. Billy Graham will lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol, congressional leaders announced Thursday, with the evangelist becoming the first religious leader to be honored by the nation in that way.
Graham, who died Wednesday at age 99, will lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda on Feb. 28 and March 1, according to the offices of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The two leaders will lead a memorial service once Graham’s casket arrives.
Congress has held such solemn ceremonies 31 times in American history, beginning with Kentucky Sen. Henry Clay in 1852 and most recently with the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) in 2012. The remains of unknown soldiers from World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War have earned the honor, as did 10 U.S. presidents — from Abraham Lincoln to Gerald R. Ford. Pierre Charles L’Enfant, the planner of the District of Columbia; civil rights activist Rosa Parks; and former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover are among the notable names who have also lain in honor.
Congressional honors for Graham will come during a week of events to mark his death. He will lie in repose next Monday and Tuesday at the Graham Family Homeplace at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte. From there, his body will be brought to Washington.
An invitation-only funeral is scheduled for noon on March 2 in Charlotte. The Graham family has invited President Trump, Vice President Pence and all living former presidents — Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — to attend. It was unclear whether any of the former presidents have accepted the invitation.
Correction: An earlier version incorrectly reported the number of times such ceremonies have been held in the Capitol Rotunda.