Congressional Ceremony Preceding the Lying in Honor of the Reverend Billy Graham

Remarks of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Rotunda, U.S. Capitol

“Welcome, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, members of the Graham family, and all our guests -- on behalf of the Senate. The Speaker and I are honored you’re with us. The man we recognize today may well have shared the Gospel with more people, face-to-face, than anyone else in history.

“His clear voice thundered through packed tents, stadiums, auditoriums, parks, and plazas the world over. His warmth and graciousness lit up living rooms and touched hundreds of millions of hearts. And this Scotch-Irish son of dairy farmers became a trusted friend and counselor to American presidents and powerful leaders around the globe.

“At first blush, the life of the Reverend Billy Graham sounds like a personal success story par excellence. A determined young man finds a strong faith at age 16. He starts paddling out in a canoe to practice his preaching on swamp birds and alligators. And eventually, through his own strength and personal greatness, he founds a world-changing ministry, leads historic revivals, and eventually lies here in honor in the United States Capitol while a grateful nation pays respects.

“A manmade success story for the ages. But the most remarkable thing about Billy Graham… is that this isn’t his story. Billy knew better than anyone that fame and an impressive Rolodex weren’t the real standards of success. His aim was simpler: Sharing the Good News with as many souls as he possibly could. And when there were triumphs, Billy insisted they were not man-made in the slightest. ‘The secret of my work,’ he explained, ‘is God. I would be nothing without him.’

“That is what made Billy Graham ‘America’s pastor.’ That is how he inspired countless life-changing conversions. Not his great talents, so much as his deep humility. His unwavering fidelity to faith and family. His plainspoken preaching of essential truths, without ego or embellishment. Billy Graham lifted up our nation, not because he occupied the spotlight so masterfully – but because he knew he wasn’t the one who belonged in it.

“He was just a happy instrument in the hands of his Creator. And so we trust he was right that his true reward is something far surpassing all his achievements here on Earth: A warm welcome for this ‘good and faithful servant’ into his eternal home. The Senate – and the nation – are so very grateful for his service.”

Related Issues: History, Tributes