Thousands lined the streets Saturday as the body of Billy Graham made the four-hour trip from Asheville to Charlotte, North Carolina, in a motorcade.
People paid their respects in personal ways, often with hands held to hearts, as the motorcade made its way along the Interstate. As cars, semis and other vehicles on the busy interstate pulled to the side to let the procession pass, police officers exited their vehicles and saluted as fire trucks blew their sirens, the Associated Press reported.
Arriving at its destination, family and friends followed behind the casket as it was wheeled up a walkway and into the cross-shaped entrance of the Billy Graham Library for a short, private ceremony.
The journey was the first in a week-long series of memorials honoring the 99-year-old evangelist who died earlier last week.
“He has never really reveled in all of the celebrity. It’s come with the territory,” Joe Tyson, a family friend from Black Mountain told the AP. “But they’ve managed to live a very normal life for such famous people. And I think he’d be very proud that his neighbors turned out and quietly celebrated his reward and his passage into heaven.”
Graham’s body will lie in repose at the library on Monday, Feb. 26 and Tuesday, Feb. 27 before traveling to the nation’s capitol.
He will lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda Feb. 28 to March 1. It will be the first time since the death of Rosa Parks, and only the fourth civilian to honored that way in the Capitol rotunda. The Capitol Rotunda will open to the public from approximately 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday. The lying in honor period will end at 10 a.m. on Thursday. Enter through the Capitol Visitor Center. Photographs in the Rotunda are strictly prohibited.
Graham’s body will return to Charlotte for the funeral and burial on March 2 Mr. Graham will be buried beside his wife, Ruth, at the foot of the cross-shaped brick walkway in the Prayer Garden, on the northeast side of the Billy Graham Library.
–By Dwight Widaman