Graham, wary of politics in life, gets Capitol salute

File photo of Evangelist Billy Graham speaking at the dedication of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, on May 31, 2007. Photo by Robert Padgett/Reuters

WASHINGTON — He felt stung by the politics that helped define his life — and resolved to keep a distance. But in death, the Rev. Billy Graham is getting a rare tribute from the nation’s top political leaders under the Capitol Rotunda.

President Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are expected Wednesday to remember “America’s pastor,” who died a week earlier at age 99. Some 30 family members are accompanying Graham’s casket to Washington, where he befriended presidents of both parties and counseled others over seven decades. Graham’s son, Franklin, tweeted a photo Wednesday of family members loading the casket onto a jet emblazoned with “Samaritan’s Purse,” the name of a Christian relief charity that he chairs.

Graham is lying in honor beneath the iconic dome Wednesday, before a funeral Friday near his home in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Rotunda entrances were draped with black fabric and set up for lawmakers and family members to stand around the casket, ringed by the Rotunda’s paintings of the nation’s founders. Graham’s casket will rest on a black-draped catafalque beneath the soaring ceiling and its painting, the “Apotheosis of Washington.”

“If there is any American whose life and…

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