• Thousands of mourners pay final respects to Rev. Billy Graham

    By: Mark Barber

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A four-day period for the public to pay respects to the late Rev. Billy Graham at his boyhood home in Charlotte entered day two on Tuesday.

    Graham's body will be taken to Washington on Wednesday to lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol. He is only the fourth private person to have that honor since Congress allowed it in 1998, joining Capitol Police officer John Gibson and Officer Jacob Chestnut, killed in the line of duty in 1998, and civil rights hero Rosa Parks in 2005.

    [IMAGES: Thousands pay their respects to the Rev. Billy Graham]

    The body of Rev. Billy Graham, in a casket made by prison inmates, will lie in repose from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday at the Graham Family Homeplace next to the Billy Graham Library.

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    The public will have an opportunity to honor Graham and view his casket during that time, a day after more than 5,600 mourners filed past it.

    People using wheelchairs and walkers, young children, people dressed in suits and ties and some in T-shirts arrived at the library when the gates opened.

     

     

    Channel 9 heard dozens of moving stories from people whose lives have been changed forever by the powerful message Graham preached.

    Cecily Turner, of Queens, New York, flew to Charlotte on Sunday to make sure she thanked the man who she said saved her mother's soul.

    The 72-year-old grandmother of four says Graham's 1957 crusade at New York's Madison Square Garden means her soul is saved, as well as the souls of her five children.

    "His legacy and his example was passed on to my mother at that crusade, then it came down to me, our daughter and my four other children and my great-grandchildren," Turner said. "That's an amazing thing."

    Rev. Graham's grandson, Roy Graham, spent much of the morning inside the house, thanking visitors for coming to pay their respects, and shared fond memories of his grandfather.

    “Taking walks with him on his property, that's the other thing I'll always remember,” Roy Graham said. “Always wanted to go for a walk. Had his dogs with us all the time. That’s the thing I'll probably remember the most with him.”

    Some people drove through the night or jumped on a plane to be at the library Monday to say goodbye to the man who changed their lives.

    "I came out of a biker lifestyle,” said Dale Brooks, from Monroe. “When I watched Billy Graham, March 10, 1982, I gave my life to Christ, and now I've been a pastor for 31 years. He's my hero."

    Brooks, like so many other visitors, can point to the exact date and time when he said the reverend first taught him about God.

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    Rev. Graham's influence worldwide was also evident, reflected in the diverse crowds that visited the library Monday and Tuesday. Some visitors from Burma told Channel 9 they were forced to flee their country years ago after believing the powerful message Graham was preaching.

    "When we heard of his passing, we were very saddened and we decided to come down here," Thawngling Mgulhulun said.

     

     

    Chengali Brooks, of the Democratic Republic of Congo, said Billy Graham is still a household name in the African country, which is 7,000 miles from Charlotte.

    "If you were to be dropped in the middle of the jungle, for example in my country, and you were to ask the name of two people anywhere in the world, one would be Michael Jackson and the other would be Billy Graham," Brooks said.

    Guests are asked to park and take a shuttle from two off-site locations. Parking and the shuttle are free.

    Buses will shuttle guests to and from the Operation Christmas Child Processing Center, located at 7100 Forest Point Blvd., and Charlotte Business Valet, Lot 2, located at 5613 Wilkinson Blvd.

    The Graham Family Homeplace is where Rev. Graham lived as a teenager in Charlotte. The house was built in 1927 by Graham's father, William Franklin Graham Sr., on the family's dairy farm on Park Road, a few miles south of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association headquarters.

    It was moved to its current location, next to the Billy Graham Library, in 2006. The home is original, including bricks, windows, hardwood floors and many items inside that date back to Graham's childhood.

    Graham died last Wednesday at the age of 99 at his home in Montreat.

    His body was taken to the Graham Family Homeplace via a 130-mile motorcade from Asheville.

    The funeral will be held on Friday in a tent in the main parking lot of Graham's library in tribute to the 1949 Los Angeles tent revivals that propelled him to international fame, family spokesman Mark DeMoss said. About 2,000 people are expected at the private, invitation-only funeral.

    Former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura visited Charlotte on Monday because they had a scheduling conflict Friday.

    Former President Bill Clinton also had a scheduling conflict, but visited Charlotte Tuesday.

    Former President Jimmy Carter also announced that he would not be able to attend the funeral.

    President Donald Trump is scheduled to attend the funeral but former President Barack Obama will not be attending.

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