Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

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

“Here lies America’s pastor,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, gesturing to Graham’s casket under the eye of the dome, surrounded by family, friends, lawmakers and a ring of paintings of the nation’s founders. “He ministered to all walks, from some of the greats whose statues line this hall —Eisenhower, King, Ford, and Reagan — to the everyday citizens lining up today to pay their respects.”

President Donald Trump said his father was an admirer of Graham’s and that the “legendary” American figure deserved to be recognized in the place “where the memory of the American people is enshrined.”

Added Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: “The man we recognize today shared the Gospel with more people, face-to-face, than anyone else in history.”

As the leaders stood by the casket, Trump reached out to touch the bare wood and Ryan bowed his head.

Graham 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 before a funeral Friday near his home in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Rotunda entrances were draped with black fabric, and Graham’s casket rested on a black-draped catafalque beneath the soaring ceiling and its painting, the “Apotheosis of Washington.” (AP)

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<p>The casket of Rev. Billy Graham is carried down the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Thursday, March 1, 2018. (Photo: Susan Walsh/AP) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

The casket of Rev. Billy Graham is carried down the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Thursday, March 1, 2018. (Photo: Susan Walsh/AP)

<p>The casket of Rev. Billy Graham is carried out of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Thursday, March 1, 2018. (Photo: Susan Walsh/AP) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

The casket of Rev. Billy Graham is carried out of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Thursday, March 1, 2018. (Photo: Susan Walsh/AP)

<p>Visitors pay their respects as the casket of Reverend Billy Graham lies in honor at the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AP) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

Visitors pay their respects as the casket of Reverend Billy Graham lies in honor at the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AP)

<p>The casket of the late evangelist Billy Graham is seen as he lies in honor at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

The casket of the late evangelist Billy Graham is seen as he lies in honor at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

<p>The late evangelist Billy Graham lies in honor in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Leah Millis/Reuters) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

The late evangelist Billy Graham lies in honor in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Leah Millis/Reuters)

<p>Mourners line up to visit the late evangelist Billy Graham as he lies in honor at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

Mourners line up to visit the late evangelist Billy Graham as he lies in honor at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

<p>Members of the public pay their respects to the late U.S. evangelist Billy Graham as he lies in honor in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Leah Millis/Reuters) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

Members of the public pay their respects to the late U.S. evangelist Billy Graham as he lies in honor in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Leah Millis/Reuters)

<p>The casket of the late Reverend Billy Graham, center, lies in honor during a service at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

The casket of the late Reverend Billy Graham, center, lies in honor during a service at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

<p>President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk away after touching a wreath placed by the casket during ceremonies in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda as the remains of the late Rev. Billy Graham lie in honor in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk away after touching a wreath placed by the casket during ceremonies in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda as the remains of the late Rev. Billy Graham lie in honor in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

<p>Rev. Billy Graham’s children, from left, Franklin Graham, Gigi Graham, Ruth Graham and Anne Graham Lotz, attend a ceremony to honor their father as his body lies in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018 in Washington. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Pool via AP) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

Rev. Billy Graham’s children, from left, Franklin Graham, Gigi Graham, Ruth Graham and Anne Graham Lotz, attend a ceremony to honor their father as his body lies in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018 in Washington. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Pool via AP)

<p>Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell looks over the casket during ceremonies in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda as the remains of the late Rev. Billy Graham lie in honor in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell looks over the casket during ceremonies in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda as the remains of the late Rev. Billy Graham lie in honor in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

<p>President Donald Trump touches the casket containing the late Rev. Billy Graham as it lies in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Pool/Reuters) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

President Donald Trump touches the casket containing the late Rev. Billy Graham as it lies in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Pool/Reuters)

<p>The casket of evangelist Billy Graham arrives at the US Capitol Rotunda on Feb. 28, 2018 in Washington. (Photo: Mandel NganAFP/Getty Images) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

The casket of evangelist Billy Graham arrives at the US Capitol Rotunda on Feb. 28, 2018 in Washington. (Photo: Mandel NganAFP/Getty Images)

<p>President Donald Trump (R)reaches for Vice President Mike Pence as US First Lady Melania Trump looks on, during the memorial service for Reverend Billy Graham in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 28, 2018 in Washington. (Photo: Mandel NganAFP/Getty Images) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

President Donald Trump (R)reaches for Vice President Mike Pence as US First Lady Melania Trump looks on, during the memorial service for Reverend Billy Graham in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 28, 2018 in Washington. (Photo: Mandel NganAFP/Getty Images)

<p>The casket of evangelist Billy Graham arrives at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Feb. 28, 2018 in Washington. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

The casket of evangelist Billy Graham arrives at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Feb. 28, 2018 in Washington. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

<p>The body of Rev. Billy Graham, who died last week at age 99, is carried into the Capitol Rotunda where he will lie in honor as President Donald Trump, officials and dignitaries pay tribute to America’s most famous evangelist, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

The body of Rev. Billy Graham, who died last week at age 99, is carried into the Capitol Rotunda where he will lie in honor as President Donald Trump, officials and dignitaries pay tribute to America’s most famous evangelist, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

<p>Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Left, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) attend the memorial service for Reverend Billy Graham in the Rotunda of the US Capitol on Feb. 28, 2018 in Washington. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Left, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) attend the memorial service for Reverend Billy Graham in the Rotunda of the US Capitol on Feb. 28, 2018 in Washington. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

<p>A Military Honor Guard carries the casket of Reverend Billy Graham as it arrives at the US Capitol in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018, prior to a lying in honor ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda. (Photo: Saul Loeb/Pool via AP) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

A Military Honor Guard carries the casket of Reverend Billy Graham as it arrives at the US Capitol in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018, prior to a lying in honor ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda. (Photo: Saul Loeb/Pool via AP)

<p>First lady Melania Trump shakes hands with the Rev Bill Graham’s son Franklin Graham as President Donald Trump looks on during ceremonies in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda as the remains of the late Rev. Billy Graham lie in honor in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

First lady Melania Trump shakes hands with the Rev Bill Graham’s son Franklin Graham as President Donald Trump looks on during ceremonies in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda as the remains of the late Rev. Billy Graham lie in honor in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

<p>The family of Rev. Billy Graham watches as the casket of Rev. Billy Graham is carried up the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, where it will lie in honor in the Rotunda. (Photo: Susan Walsh, Pool/AP) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

The family of Rev. Billy Graham watches as the casket of Rev. Billy Graham is carried up the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, where it will lie in honor in the Rotunda. (Photo: Susan Walsh, Pool/AP)

<p>The casket of Rev. Billy Graham is carried up the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, where it will lie in honor in the Rotunda. I (Photo: Susan Walsh, Pool/AP) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

The casket of Rev. Billy Graham is carried up the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, where it will lie in honor in the Rotunda. I (Photo: Susan Walsh, Pool/AP)

<p>A joint U.S. Military honor guard carries a casket containing the remains of evangelist Rev. Billy Graham at the U.S. Capitol, on Feb. 28, 2018 in Washington. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

A joint U.S. Military honor guard carries a casket containing the remains of evangelist Rev. Billy Graham at the U.S. Capitol, on Feb. 28, 2018 in Washington. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

<p>A joint U.S. Military honor guard carries a casket containing the remains of evangelist Rev. Billy Graham at the U.S. Capitol, on Feb. 28, 2018 in Washington. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

A joint U.S. Military honor guard carries a casket containing the remains of evangelist Rev. Billy Graham at the U.S. Capitol, on Feb. 28, 2018 in Washington. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

<p>Attorney General Jeff Sessions, center, talks to Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., and others, as they wait for the ceremony to begin honoring Reverend Billy Graham in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol building, Wednesday, Feb. 28, in Washington. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, center, talks to Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., and others, as they wait for the ceremony to begin honoring Reverend Billy Graham in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol building, Wednesday, Feb. 28, in Washington. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP)

<p>Crews prepare for the late Rev. Billy Graham to be honored Wednesday in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018 in Washington. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

Crews prepare for the late Rev. Billy Graham to be honored Wednesday in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018 in Washington. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP)

<p>House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., foreground, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., center and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., right and waits for the ceremony to begin honoring Reverend Billy Graham in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol building, Wednesday, Feb. 28, in Washington. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., foreground, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., center and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., right and waits for the ceremony to begin honoring Reverend Billy Graham in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol building, Wednesday, Feb. 28, in Washington. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP)

<p>A Capitol Police K-9 unit works security as a line forms for the public viewing of the late Rev. Billy Graham at the Capitol, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, in Washington. (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

A Capitol Police K-9 unit works security as a line forms for the public viewing of the late Rev. Billy Graham at the Capitol, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, in Washington. (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

<p>Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, center, conducts a walkthrough before a service for the late Reverend Billy Graham at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, center, conducts a walkthrough before a service for the late Reverend Billy Graham at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

<p>Crews prepare for the late Rev. Billy Graham to be honored Wednesday in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018 in Washington. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP) </p>
Bill Graham gets Capitol salute

Crews prepare for the late Rev. Billy Graham to be honored Wednesday in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018 in Washington. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP)

<p>Members of the U.S. Secret Service stand watch as President Donald Trump attends a ceremony to honor the late evangelist Rev. Billy Graham at the U.S. Capitol, on February 28, 2018 in Washington. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images) </p>
Billy Graham gets Capitol salute

Members of the U.S. Secret Service stand watch as President Donald Trump attends a ceremony to honor the late evangelist Rev. Billy Graham at the U.S. Capitol, on February 28, 2018 in Washington. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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