WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A year after his death, steps are underway to honor Rev. Billy Graham with a statue in the U.S. Capitol Building.
- A panel of North Carolina leaders is currently accepting applications
- The goal is to have the Graham statue complete and on its way to Washington by September 2020
- Graham was just the fourth person to lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol rotunda
A panel of North Carolina leaders is currently accepting applications from potential artists, with a deadline of April 1. The goal is to have the Graham statue complete and on its way to Washington by September 2020, according to the application.
Any statue would have to be approved by a panel of congressional lawmakers.
The sculpture would be added to the National Statuary Hall Collection, which is on display in a large hall just off the House floor and in other prime locations around the Capitol Building.
Being added to the collection is a unique and rare honor. Each state is only allowed to contribute two statues. The current ranks include George Washington, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Will Rogers, Helen Keller, and Thomas Edison, to name a few.
“Think of the great history of North Carolina, Virginia. To be able to have that kind of impact, I think that’s a very special honor,” said Rep. Mark Walker, R-6th District, who is among those supporting the effort to give Graham a statue.
Washington, D.C. is not an unfamiliar place for Graham. The giant of the Christian faith counseled and met with presidents going back to Harry Truman. He also touched the lives of many the world over through his crusades and television appearances.
“He reminded us that faith transcends political parties, and I think the way that he lead with loving compassion continues to be and will continue to be an example for all of us,” said Walker, who is a former preacher.
After his death at age 99, Graham was just the fourth person to lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol rotunda. His new statue would likely be located just be steps away from where his casket rested.
“When people see it, I think there will be a pause and reflection to focus on really what matters most in this life,” Walker said.
Pending congressional approval, Graham will replace a statue of Charles Brantley Aycock, who served as North Carolina’s governor around the turn of the century. Aycock has come under scrutiny for his white supremacist beliefs. That statue has been part of the collection since 1932.
North Carolina’s other statue in the Capitol Building honors Zebulon Vance, who served as governor during the Civil War and later as a U.S. Senator. His statue was added to the collection in 1916.