The nation is bidding a very public and formal farewell to the Rev. Billy Graham, whose remains are lying in honor at the U.S. Capitol.
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence, Supreme Court Associate Justices Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito Jr. and a slew of Congressional leaders were among the dignitaries paying respects during a ceremony this week, and a military honor guard is in place.
But the casket on display, like Graham himself, has very humble origins. It was built by prisoners.
As reported by AJC writer Shelia Poole, Graham’s casket and the one in which Ruth Graham was buried after her death in 2007 were designed and built by inmates at the maximum-security Louisiana State Penitentiary. In 2005, while touring the prison, Graham’s son, Rev. Franklin Graham, saw inmates building caskets for other inmates who could not afford to buy one. He was so moved he asked that they make caskets for his parents.
Billy Graham died last week at 99. His 12 grandsons will serve as pallbearers at his funeral on Friday. After the private service Graham’s remains will be interred next to his wife’s grave site in his native Charlotte, N.C. at the foot of the cross-shaped brick walkway in the Prayer Garden, on the northeast side of the Billy Graham Library.