Tomorrow, the late Rev. Billy Graham will lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Members of the public and the U.S. government will be able to pay their respects. Rev. Graham, who passed away last week at 99 years of age, dedicated his life to proclaiming the gospel—traveling to 185 countries to preach in-person to over 200 million people. He also served as an advisor to 12 consecutive U.S. presidents and was a fierce advocate for civil rights and ecumenical inclusion.
Lying in state or lying in honor at the U.S. Capitol is a way for Congress, and the country, to pay tribute to distinguished Americans who have passed. While lying in state is traditionally reserved for military officers or elected public officials, private citizens may lie in honor. In total, 26 individuals have lain in state, in addition to three instances where Congress honored the unknown soldiers of World War I, World War II and the Korean War, and of the Vietnam Era. Previously, only three individuals in our country’s history have lain in honor: U.S. Capitol Police officers Jacob Joseph Chestnut and John Michael Gibson, who were killed in the line of duty in 1998, and civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks in 2005. Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii was the last person lain in state following his passing in 2012.
Rev. Graham’s casket will rest on a catafalque constructed by the Architect of the Capitol. The catafalque is constructed out of wood and draped in a black cloth. For more information on the preparation that goes into an event of this nature, visit: http://www.aoc.gov/blog/supporting-final-goodbyes-grateful-nation
The Capitol service, which will include remarks and the laying of wreaths by the president and congressional leadership, will begin tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. ET. Starting at 1:00 p.m., the Rotunda will be open to the public. Requested by congressional leadership and authorized by congressional resolution, Rev. Graham’s remains will arrive at the Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 28. The Capitol service and public viewing will be streamed on speaker.gov/live.