CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Admirers took photos on their phones, fire trucks parked on freeway overpasses and police officers saluted as a motorcade carrying the body of the Rev. Billy Graham crossed the evangelist’s beloved home state of North Carolina for four hours from his mountain chapel to namesake library in the state’s largest city.
Residents in some of Graham’s most cherished places paid tribute Saturday to “America’s Pastor,” starting at the training center operated by his evangelistic association in Asheville. The motorcade rolled through Black Mountain, where he shopped and caught trains, and Montreat, where he lived.
Well-wishers lined sidewalks and medians as the motorcade reached Charlotte. Pallbearers, followed by family, carried the coffin into the Billy Graham Library, which will serve as a backdrop for the funeral.
Franklin Graham said he was fulfilling a promise to his father to bring the body to Charlotte. He said he was overwhelmed by “the outpouring of love.”
Graham, who died Wednesday at his home in North Carolina’s mountains at age 99, reached hundreds of millions of listeners around the world with his rallies and his pioneering use of television.
A viewing will be held at the library in Charlotte on Monday and Tuesday. Graham also will lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday and Thursday, the first time a private citizen has been accorded such recognition since civil rights hero Rosa Parks in 2005.
The procession was part of more than a week of mourning that culminates with his funeral and burial Friday in Charlotte.
The White House announced Sunday that President Donald Trump plans to attend the funeral.