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1962 graham statue
Billy Graham and President John F. Kennedy. Public domain.

Statue of Billy Graham to be unveiled in U.S. Capitol

The late Billy Graham will take his place among about 200 great Americans with a statue in the U.S. Capitol. His statue will be unveiled this Thursday during a ceremony that will be attended by musician Michael W. Smith, House Speaker Mike Johnson  and other congressional representatives.

The bronze sculpture, designed by an artist from Graham’s birthplace of Charlotte, N.C., will stand seven feet tall on a pedestal and depict him gesturing toward an open Bible in his hand as a symbol of his life’s work. The pedestal will be engraved with John 3:16 and John 14:6, and Graham will be proclaimed as a “Preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

After the North Carolina General Assembly unanimously voted him the state’s “Favorite Son” in 2013, then-Gov. Pat McCrory signed House Bill 540 in 2015, which set in motion the Graham statue. “There have been many great North Carolinians, but few have impacted the world more than Billy Graham,” the bill said.

Sen. Ted Budd, R-N.C., who played a role in the bipartisan effort to place the statue in the Capitol, praised Graham’s ministry in a statement.

“The legacy of Rev. Billy Graham is based on his simple message of forgiveness based on John 3:16,” he said. “His lifelong commitment to preaching the gospel, his fight for civil rights, his opposition to communism and his spiritual guidance provided hope to hundreds of millions.”

Graham’s son, Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, expressed gratitude for the honor shown toward his father. “This is a great honor, and my father would be humbled and grateful,” he said. “At the same time, he would not want the attention on himself but on God’s son, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

When he died in 2018 at age 99, Graham became the fourth American citizen to lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Over his ministry spanning eight decades, he counseled 12 U.S. presidents and preached in person to nearly 215 million people in 185 countries and territories, more than anyone in history.

In his last message to Americans, released on his 95th birthday in 2013, Graham expressed grief over the spiritual state of the nation, saying, “There have been times when I’ve wept, as I’ve gone from city to city and I’ve seen how far people have wandered from God.”

National Statuary Hall was established in 1864 for states to commemorate their notable citizens, but Congress passed a resolution in 1933 to limit each state to two statues after the hall became overcrowded. One statue per state is allowed in Statuary Hall, with the others statues placed in either the crypt or the Capitol Visitor Center.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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