He was stung by the politics that shaped his life – and decided to keep his distance. But in death, Rev. Billy Graham receives a rare tribute from the nation's leading political leaders under the Capitol Rotunda.
President Donald Trump, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will remember on Wednesday "America's Pastor," who died a week earlier at the age of 99. Some 30 family members will accompany Graham's casket to Washington, where he became friends with presidents of both parties and advised others for over seven decades.
Graham lies on Wednesday and Thursday under the iconic Dome, in front of a funeral Friday near his home in Charlotte, North Carolina. "If there is an American whose life and work of life is worth honoring in the US Capitol, it's Billy Graham," Ryan said.
Despite meeting every president since Harry Truman, Graham became suspicious of Watergate politics. He was closest to Richard Nixon, but later he said he felt needed by him.
Served at the President
Yet Graham served other President until his health began  Former President Bill Clinton recalled seeing one of the Graham Crusades as a child, a profound experience that made his life more and more amazing. Graham advised him as Governor of Arkansas and later as President of the White House itself.
"In this small room, he was the same person I saw on this football field at the age of 11," Clinton said Tuesday after visiting the coffin
Former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura also visited Graham's home on Tuesday.
In Washington, Ryan said there was no doubt that Graham would receive the honor of a public viewing in the rotunda. He told reporters that he, Trump, McConnell, and MP Patrick McHenry, representing the Graham family district, agreed almost immediately after the hearing of Graham's death that this would happen.
Graham shares the honor with 11 Presidents and other respected Americans with Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky in 1852 and most recently Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii in 2012, the Capitol's house and architect
Graham is only the fourth Private person honors since 1998 The others are two US Capitol police officers who fell on duty in 1998 and civil rights hero Rosa Parks in 2005.
Trump met Graham at the pastor's 95th birthday party in 2013, but is closer to Franklin Graham Jr.